It’s weird to think that The Marvel Cinematic Universe has essentially been around for all of my adult life. Iron Man (2008) kicked-off this filmic universe of interconnected comic book movies when I was trying to survive college. Eleven years and 21 Marvel movies later, I find myself embracing age 30. When it comes down to it, I’ve invested a ton of time in The MCU; but that’s no surprise for a comic book guy like myself or any like-minded readers of this site. What is surprising though is that Marvel Studios has trained everyone to show up for all these movies for over a decade. The average American goes to the movies three times a year; and every one of them showed up last weekend the culmination of The MCU, Avengers: Endgame. Hence, the movie’s opening weekend of over a billion dollars!
Regrettably, I was a little late to the party. As I settled into my seat for a weekday morning screening a few days ago, I was surprised to see that the theater was nearly full. As everyone waited for the pre-show to end so we could finally get this 3-hour epic going, I could feel the palpable excitement throughout the majority of the audience. However, I had more of a low-key excitement; as I try not to develop expectations before seeing a film. Instead, my curiosity outweighed my excitement. After all, I had issues with last year’s Avengers: Infinity War (2018). (Which you can read my review on here. I wondered, “Can Endgame fix the issues I had with Infinity War?”; “Will this be a satisfying conclusion?”
Avengers: Endgame picks up where Avengers: Infinity War left off. Endgame finds those that remain of Earth’s mightiest heroes separated and devastated. Our world, as well as many other planets, have been in shambles by Thanos’ (Josh Brolin) wrath of reduction. There seems to be no hope left for humanity, except one, the remaining members of The Avengers! Together, these heroes must find a way to defeat Thanos and save the world from his villainous actions.
Endgame is an impressive piece of filmmaking. I mean, it’s the 21st film in a series, and in this case, it is connected to most of the movies that came before it. As with the previous film directors, Anthony Russo and Joe Russo bring a screenplay from writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely to fruition. As with Infinity War, the movie in review feels a lot like a comic book annual brought to the silver screen. That means that once again, there are many storylines and dozens of characters to juggle. Therefore, Endgame jumps around and threading between storylines that occasionally have to be put on pause. Thankfully, the writers and directors have improved upon this comics annual format this time around.
Perhaps it’s the flick’s three-hour runtime, but Endgame feels much smoother than Infinity War ever will. More importantly, though, Endgame succeeds where the first-half of this story did not. My biggest disappoint with Infinity War was its lack of emotional resonance. That movie took no time to let the audience feel any emotion; instead vying to deliver a cheap shot of a cliffhanger ending. Well, I am thrilled to say that Endgame absolutely delivers on the emotional front. By the end of this picture, I found myself tearing up a bit. That’s because Endgame spends its first act letting us feel our delayed emotions brought on by its predecessor.
Of course, you can’t evoke emotion without a great cast of characters. Everyone in this film’s massive ensemble is at the top of their game. I even felt a connection to Clint Barton / Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), a character whose cinematic interpretation I’ve never cared for. Nor does it help that the character is played an actor I never have cottoned to. Yet, even that character delivers this time around. Without a doubt though, there are two MVPs in this cast of Avengers.
Chris Hemsworth manages to deliver both pathos and humor in surprising character development with Thor. Then there’s Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark / Iron Man. Downey Jr. serves as the emotional foundation for The Avengers as a team, and this movie as a whole. The actor reminds the audience that he is a huge part of why this whole ambition of having a cinematic universe in the first place. Despite having played the character many times now, RDJ turns in one of his most impressive performances as Iron Man yet.
A movie of Endgame’s scale can’t help but feel a little chaotic. No doubt such chaos is a byproduct of the movie’s plot utilizing a certain inherently problematic genre trope to tell its story. A story which ends up being quite predictable even if you don’t read comics. As a result, the movie sometimes feels convoluted. Especially on occasions where the movie breaks its own rules. Because of these issues, you can definitely feel most of the film’s 180-minute runtime.
Despite the inherent issues in the story though, the movie in review still achieves what it sets out to do. Avengers: Endgame offers a satisfying, albeit, predictable conclusion. So much so in fact that I feel like The MCU needs to end here. I’ve been proven wrong by Marvel Studios and its head producer Kevin Feige in the past. However, I that too much of a good thing will always go bad. Therefore, I think it’s a mistake they are continuing onward with this cinematic universe. I believe at the very least that a continuity reset should be considered. After such a satisfying conclusion, I feel things can only go downhill from here.
Avengers: Endgame is a good film makes spending all these years watching these movies feel like a great use of time. However, it’s not “The best movie (comic book based or otherwise) of all time,” as huge swaths of the internet claim. It’s not even the best Marvel movie of all time. In my opinion, it would be impossible for Endgame to qualify as a great film. Why? Because Endgame depends on all its predecessors for its very existence. Thereby making it feel more like a series finale than a movie. Fans will certainly be pleased with the movie; while any casual viewer of The MCU may well find it to be impenetrable. Avengers: Endgame is a solid film and one that serves as the end of an era.
Avengers: Endgame Is In Theaters Now!
The MCU will continue onward with Spider-Man: Far From Home, Opening July 2nd!