Avengers: Endgame arrives with expectations which could never be met. The culmination of more than 10 years and 22 films (including itself) from Marvel Studios, fans have so many hopes and wishes for the ensemble film tying up each of the narrative threads that it would be nearly impossible to send audiences home completely satisfied. The directors, writers, cast, and mastermind of it all Kevin Feige did their best with it though -- and manage to not only meet those expectations but also exceed them.
On the heels of losing to Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War, the remaining heroes (plus their new friend Captain Marvel, played by Brie Larson) make an effort to come together one more time to undo the infamous Snap. The plan seems simple: gather the Infinity Stones and undo what Thanos did. However, the film is far from being this simple, of course. This is why it ends up clocking in at just over three hours.
The film gets off to a slow, slightly convoluted start. The first third of the film is dedicated to updating audiences on the status of each hero and the plan they will be burdened with carrying out. It jumps around and introduces massive new concepts to the Marvel Cinematic Universe which, in a shorter amount of time, would have been tremendously confusing. Writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, however, did their duty in keeping the audience informed on each narrative thread as they splinter into different directions.
Humor pops in throughout the film, but the first hour offers up one of Marvel's biggest gags involving Thor, this time staying true to his Thor: Ragnarok tone, and it goes on a little longer than it had to. However, the humor is quickly overshadowed by an outstanding emotional backbone. Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's 21 films before Avengers: Endgame will absolutely have a much larger payoff on the emotional front than someone who just popped in or started with Avengers: Infinity War. A base knowledge of the MCU's history (and some surprising previous films) enhance the viewing experience here, making it an emotional roller coaster loaded with both devastating beats and triumphant moments of heroism.
The stakes have never been higher. Where Avengers: Infinity War showed the heroes making a stand against Thanos, Endgame backs them into a corner with only one chance to get out. The heroes have their own conflicts, some of which stem from events prior to Endgame like the strained relationship between Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.). New dynamics come into play in surprising ways, like character pairings or rivalries which hadn't existed in previous films.
The suspicion of stakes being meaningless as the goal is to undo those of Avengers: Infinity War's outcome is misguided. Avengers: Endgame manages to put real stakes into place with real, shocking consequences. The performances of the likes of Downey Jr., Evans, Jeremy Renner, Chris Hemsworth, Paul Rudd, Mark Ruffalo, Karen Gillan, and Scarlett Johansson, specifically, are a highlight. Each of these eight actors had to portray a range of emotions throughout the film, never missing a beat on any a single one of them.
Avengers: Endgame is also loaded with fan service to top off its incredibly well-written narrative, but going into any detail in the narrative or why it works well is difficult without spoiling anything, so we won't touch on it here. It's as though the Russo Brothers and Marvel Studios were reading what fans wanted to see, made a checklist, and filled as many of those boxes as possible.
The final movie in Marvel's Infinity Saga is a masterpiece. It's an absolute spectacle which needs to be watched on the biggest screen possible. It's a love letter to fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In fact, I'd argue that Avengers: Endgame is the film event of our lifetime and lives up to every bit of global hype it has garnered. It is setting a new standard and raising the bar for event films and likely will not be matched in this generation of filmmaking.
Laughs. Tears. Applause. Avengers: Endgame gets all of it.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Avengers: Endgame is set to officially release in theaters on Friday, April 26th, though most theaters will be showing it Thursday night.
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