I NEARLY didn’t bother writing a review for this one, as I guarantee large chunks will sound just like the other mostly glowing Marvel Cinematic Universe reviews I’ve written over the years.
Being that this is the cap-off to the most successful superhero franchise EVER…and just a damn well crafted flick, I HAD to scribble something about it…
I walked into Endgame (my 3rd friggin attempt, sold out the previous two times) knowing that I was ultimately going to walk out happy with what I had seen, not just as a stand-alone but also as the final amalgamation of the entire MCU, as we know it (I know, I know…TECHNICALLY, Spiderman: Far From Home is going to be the last in this phase, but c’mon…!). And I was right. Since the Russo Brothers entered the picture with Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), they have consistently proven their worth with the entries that come in under their assured direction. It also helps that Marvel Studios found their stride early on and have stuck with it, resulting in a mostly satisfying over-arcing storyline that nicely balances the journeys and personalities of a number of different and dynamic characters. They had a plan…and it shows. And pays! As of the time of this writing, Endgame has smashed through James Cameron’s 1997 box office explosion Titanic, no easy feat. But they did it! The trick was the execution and the lead-up to it.
Avengers: Endgame opens in the tragic aftermath of The Snap of Thanos (Josh Brolin) from the end of Avengers: Infinity War (2018), to which this movie is obviously a direct sequel. *SPOILER for Infinity War* – 5 years later, all of our remaining heroes are dealing with the extermination of 50% of all life in the universe in their own ways and the world is now eerily underpopulated and in a gradual state of disrepair (though I did like the hints that Nature was now in recovery due to how many of us got snapped). A chance incident brings ‘Scott Lang’ / ‘Ant-Man’ (Paul Rudd) back from where he was lost in the Quantum Realm at the time of The Snap, armed with knowledge that could undo what ‘Thanos’ had done. The Avengers assemble and a multi-faceted plan is hatched, one that involves a complicated, but clever time-travel plot. This all leads to the ultimate showdown (in some ways I didn’t see coming) and the culmination of the current MCU, along with closure for many of our main characters.
For a film that bravely comes in at around the 3 hour mark, The Russo Brothers again did an admirable job keeping the story moving and interesting, further expanding on what came before while also offering us some new and interesting elements to many of the characters and situations we’ve come to know and love. They also capably hark back to their comedic roots with many genuinely amusing moments scattered throughout the largely dour narrative (what they do with ‘Thor’ is hilarious, ‘Hulk’ is pretty good too), just as they did with Infinity War. There’s also a surprising amount of heart behind the goings-ons, with many characters getting a chance to connect, and reconnect, emotionally. And of course, there’s the action. This is not a wall-to-wall action extravaganza (except when it is), but when it kicks in, it kicks ass! The Russo’s again show that they also wield a savvy understanding of staging, shooting and editing action scenes and I love how they cleverly incorporate the use of props and situations to further those scenes. The way they balance the coverage between multiple characters is inspired and is exactly how I would try to handle things, should I be lucky enough to direct something like that (in my dreams!). It all flows nicely and often little exciting surprises pop up to keep things fresh as scenes play out.
By now, most of the actors portraying our heroes can slip into the characters like an old jacket and the established dynamic among the group continues unabated. It’s great seeing characters that actual seem to get along with or understand one another, and the ones that don’t, at least show a degree of respect for the talents of others (‘Stark’ and ‘Dr. Strange’ come to mind). Every member of the cast brings their A-game in for this big win and it was great. It was also great to see certain characters (*cough*…’Hawkeye’…*cough*) get a lot more meat to work with in the story than in previous outings. It was also highly impressive to see just how many actors from the other films turn up here, even if just for a shot or a cameo appearance. They pulled in damn near everyone! But no matter how small the role, they all felt relevant somehow. Very cool stuff.
If I had to gripe, I have two, but they’re pretty minor. First off, as one can usually expect with a 3 hour run-time, there are some moments in the first and second Acts that, while expositionally necessary, did drop some of the pace to a crawl. It only happened a couple times, where I found myself drifting away from what was happening onscreen but then something kick-ass would occur, and I was right back into it. The other issue is some of the conveniences that pop up in the narrative, like how ‘Ant-Man’ returns. There was the odd hint of laziness here and there, but certainly not enough for me to condemn it. Not a deal breaker at all, but worthy of a quiet mention.
There are so many things worthy of mention that go down in Avengers: Endgame, but instead of going all long-winded on you, Dear Reader, I’ll just say…
In a nutshell, Marvel has done it. They successfully pulled off what they mostly intended to do and as a result, us geeky nerds now have a rich and exciting multi-flick franchise to always go back to; a franchise that will most likely, and rightfully, be viewed as the golden standard for cinematic shared universes for decades to come and will always stand on it’s own, regardless of what Marvel does next. In overall quality, Endgame picks up from Infinity War (both films being shot back-to-back probably helped!) and runs with it, all the way to touchdown, and it’s great!
The cast is fun and interesting, the story continues organically, there are unexpected surprises and some character arcs caught me off guard, in the best way possible (that also applies to the deceased). The action scenes are excellent (loved ‘Hawkeye’s Japanese mob take-down…terrifically staged scene!) and the whole production holds up the high grade that was previously established. I saw it in 3D and, like the others, there are key moments when the added dimension pays off. This movie deserves to be seen on The Big Screen, for the sheer spectacle of it, and given how it’s destroying the Box Office right now, it seems the movie-going public has gotten that message loud n clear. I really liked Avengers: Endgame, both on its own and as the culmination of the MCU, and I’m looking forward to checking it out again when it hits its Home Release date.
Obviously I’m recommending this one and I think even casual fans with limited interest in superhero / action movies will be satisfied…but I’m legitimately happy for the dedicated Marvel fans, in that the studio did NOT drop the ball on this franchise, right up until the end. Good job Marvel!
Now let’s see how you proceed from here.