After the devastating events of Avengers: Infinity War (2018), the universe is in ruins. With the help of remaining allies, the Avengers assemble once more in order to undo Thanos' actions and restore order to the universe. (from IMDb)
Expectation is different for everyone. How do you conclude a 21-movie run in one epic finale? Director brothers Anthony and Joe Russo had their work cut out for themselves when they agreed to make the final two Avengers films in a 2-part epic finale. While they gave us two of the strongest Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War, they proved to be up to the task with last summer's exciting, fun and utterly devastating Avengers: Infinity War. So how exactly do you follow up a movie that ends with half of humanity being wiped from existence with the snap of the fingers?
Avengers: Endgame has been shrouded in secrecy since the beginning, and even the film's advertising campaign has been cryptic if not downright misleading. And this is good--really good! It's actually nice to go into a movie for a change with it being a complete surprise (meanwhile, Warner Bros. can't seem to show enough of Godzilla: King of the Monsters to us ahead of its release). To follow suit, I'll do my best to talk about Endgame *without* giving away major plot points, but I will freely talk about Avengers: Infinity War as if the reader has seen it already -- as well as all of the films up until this point in the MCU.
Infinity War was such a beautifully odd duck. It's a very serious, very weighty film that also happens to have some very funny moments as well as some really great and fun action scenes (The whole fight on Titan against Thanos still makes me a bit giddy after several viewings. It's just so fun. And c'mon -- Thanos pulls down and throws a MOON at Iron Man!). The ending was a much talked about jaw-dropper in which Thanos--the film's big bad (and really the looming evil over much of the 18 films before it)--gets all six "Infinity Stones" and literally wipes out half of the universe. The UNIVERSE--not just Earth! Half of ALL beings is gone. That's how the movie ends. Granted, Marvel only scared and dismayed a portion of their fanbase, because news of sequels involving characters that were erased included Spider-Man (who has a new movie out this summer), and other characters--like Black Panther--had just smashed the box office, and we're supposed to believe he's gone for good already? C'mon. So we all knew Avengers 4 would at least have to bring back SOME of the erased people somehow. Titled after what Doctor Strange states is "We're in the endgame now" (after he gives up the Time Stone to save Tony Stark/Iron Man's life), Avengers: Endgame takes place after half of the universe was wiped out, and it serves as a finale for the Marvel films we've been watching since Iron Man debuted in 2008.
Three hours is an appropriate and generous run time to give this run of films its swan song (The series will continue, just not in the same direction and with all of the same characters. This run of movies revolves heavily around Thanos). Do some of the deaths from Infinity War stick? Oh, yes. I won't say who, though. And do we lose any more in Endgame. Yes, sadly, we do. It does bring serious weight to the storyline, to the actions of the characters, and to the severity of the situations presented. The diehard fans are very, very invested at this point, 11 years in, and the MCU isn't going to wrap up this series of films without making us feel the gravity of this wrap-up. But, thankfully, the Russo brothers know how to inject some really serious emotional themes and moments into this story. They definitely tackle what it's like for the world to exist without half of its inhabitants, and we see how all of it affects--and changes some of--our heroes. Unfortunately, the way things are handled isn't all gravy (I was not a fan at all of what happens with Thor's changes, for example), and you probably shouldn't spend too much time trying to work out the logic of some of the science in the film, but what everyone accomplished here is something truly amazing. Ideas and moments started in films a decade ago are touched on and carried through here. It's truly remarkable. Characters pop up you'd never think would, and fan service is delivered in ways you never even realized you wanted but are so thankful is delivered. I grin from ear to ear just recalling some of those moments. I am a little afraid that repeat viewings of Endgame might reveal some of its flaws more glaringly to me, but the first viewing, at the very least, was such a ride, it's hard to deny that experience. I did, however, rewatch all but one of the 21 films preceding Endgame in a couple of the weeks prior to seeing this finale (in case you're wondering, I skipped the 2008 The Incredible Hulk since Ruffalo wasn't even playing the character then, even though the story is officially canon for this cinematic universe). Revisiting all of the films---catching little threads that run through so many of them and watching seeds planted in one film grow and blossom in later ones--just showed me how beautifully designed this franchise is. And it made my Endgame experience that much more fruitful and intense (Oh, I was pretty keyed up for a couple days before seeing this last installment). I also found myself liking installments I previously only thought were okay (or even disappointing--like Avengers: Age of Ultron) so much more during this most recent run.
I did catch the movie on IMAX and I highly recommend it if you can see it in this premium format. The screen is beautifully gigantic and literally shows more picture than you'll get on a standard screen size.
The content for Endgame is similar to what you saw in Avengers: Infinity War or anything the Russos have directed in the MCU thus far. However, there's slightly more uses of the "S" word, and definitely some more gruesome moments (including an alien character's head being sliced off shockingly in a quick shot, and a miscellaneous man's throat being cut with some bloody results). There's quite a bit of action, as well as some very emotional sequences, especially when some characters are inevitably killed off. There isn't anything sexual in the film, but a very subtle (and unnecessary) moment during a group therapy session near the start of the film has a miscellaneous male character talking about trying to move on with his life after losing his partner and, following a date he just went on, deciding to see "him" again. (Oddly enough, this character is even a cameo by one of the film's directors.) It felt really out of place for this film and even the MCU, even though it's handled in a passing and fleeting way here.
Before seeing the film, I'd heard that Avengers: Endgame "exceeded expectations." I'm happy to say that it actually really does. There's so much done here that harvests little seeds planted in films through the years, gives major fan service to the diehards, and gives us a highly entertaining, highly emotional epic superhero film. The acting here is solid all-around, too, which helps sell so many scenes that would be nothing without great actors driving them. While I don't think I'd consider it my favorite of the MCU--and if Infinity War was more like Empire Strikes Back, then Endgame definitely works as its Return of the Jedi, so to speak--it's definitely high up on the scale of solid Marvel entries. If you're loving the MCU, make sure you get caught up with the series and then experience an incredible event film in Avengers: Endgame on the big screen. (And let me save you the time by letting you know now that there is NO additional scene after the credits.)- John DiBiase (reviewed: 4/28/19)
Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.
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