Avengers: Endgame culminates the MCU with a swan song that celebrates its rich history and provides a heartfelt conclusion 22 films in the making.
Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo and featuring an all star cast of Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Brie Larson, Bradley Cooper, and Josh Brolin, Avengers: Endgame closes the Infinity Saga for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With callbacks to past films, incredible fan service moments and a bittersweet conclusion, the film hits almost all the bars needed to satisfy fans of the franchise and moviegoers in general.
The Russo brothers, who have had a strong presence in the franchise since Captain America: The Winter Soldier, return to helm finale of the saga that began with 2008’s Iron Man. With an incredible amount of pressure to give fans everything they want, the Russo’s made sure to hit all the main fan service points. Despite a few hiccups along the way, they do an incredible job wrapping up the arcs of multiple Avengers while leaving the door open for the future.
Avengers: Endgame picks up directly after Avengers: Infinity War. With the heroes having lost and their universe ripped in half by Thanos, the Avengers are scattered, in mourning and angry. The first act of the film shows the Avengers in their different stages of grief. Led by Captain America, who is rooted with a feeling of guilt and anger, leads the team and the world in working towards a new future post Thanos’ Snap.
Avengers: Endgame quickly brings all the major heroes together to get the ball rolling on the actual story. Within the first few minutes, the Avengers are reunited. While the plot of the film is rooted in fan service and goofier then expected following Infinity War, the film still manages to have a strong amount of heart throughout. As the first act of the film comes to an end, the tone of the film quickly shifts from somber, intimate and mournful to an injection of hope. The remaining Avengers all either have a sense of desperation to make things right or a complete apathy for the world after what transpired. Once the film kicks off into its second gear, it becomes a nostalgia trip around the universe.
If the first act of the film is rooted in a sense of sadness and mourning, the second act of the film is a celebration. Spanning multiple galaxies, worlds, timelines and iconic moments, Avengers: Endgame looks back at the universe fans have come to love over the last decade as the Avengers try to right their ultimate failure. This act was probably the least polished of the three, as it is filled with so many moments of fan service that the film’s plot itself almost feels like a secondary thread. Regardless, fans of the franchise will be thrilled to relive all of their favorite moments and even add more context to them. In many ways, Endgame actually elevated past films from the franchise in unique ways.
Thanos continues to show why he is one of the best comic book villains we’ve ever seen. In Avengers: Endgame, he is just as dangerous and his impact in the prior movie continues to loom over this film. While not quite the same motivations as Infinity War, Thanos presents just as much of a threat to the Avengers when the final battle starts. The Infinity Saga is tied together by Thanos and the Infinity Stones and his character was handled in a satisfying way. The closest comparison to Thanos in this film was Voldemort in Deathly Hallows Part 2 and there seemed to be some parallels with how both characters were handled.
As expected for a finale of 22 films, multiple actors bring their absolute A-game for the film. Chris Evans and Robert Downey JR bring some of their best performances yet as Captain America and Iron Man. The two have been the faces of the franchise for over a decade and each of them had a story arc that was bittersweet and emotional. Surprise standouts of the film were Jeremy Renner and Paul Rudd, each brought an elevated sense of emotion and heart to the story and kept it grounded even when the stakes were universal. Scarlett Johansson also brought her best performance to date as Black Widow.
My gripes with the film are limited but can’t be ignored. Where the Russo Brothers did many characters right in Infinity War, Endgame presented a strange dilemma for two of the original Avengers. Without going into details, the way Thor and the Hulk were used for the majority of the film was jarring and did not fit the reality Infinity War presented them. Opting for a more Thor Ragnarok style return for the pair, the handling of these characters for the first two acts of Avengers: Endgame were some of my least favorite parts.
Without touching on spoilers, the third act of Avengers: Endgame is by far the best of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The final battle against Thanos will give fans everything they want. Moments of completely thrilling action, bittersweet character arcs closing and one of the most satisfying culmination moments in blockbuster history, Avengers: Endgame gives the ultimate experience that honors an 11 year, 22 film legacy. While it is still processing in my mind, right now, I can’t name any other superhero film moment that achieves the level of comic book bliss like the final battle of Avengers: Endgame.
Overall, Avengers: Endgame is one of the best comic book films we’ve seen in terms of pure comic book craziness. The film does an excellent job establishing the impact of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film is the ultimate swan song for the actors and fans who have put in a decade of investment into this film franchise. What the Marvel Cinematic Universe has achieved in the span of 22 films is nothing short of spectacular. Love or hate the franchise, there is no denying its impact on audiences and film culture. Withholding a few minor creative choices, Avengers: Endgame is really close to a perfect ending for a 22 film franchise. While not perfect like Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, it is the epitome of what a superhero moment of this magnitude should look and feel like. Avengers: Endgame is a thrilling, satisfying and bittersweet conclusion to a 22 film saga that celebrates its heroes, ties together plot ends and honors a fantastic film franchise.