Believe the hype. Avengers: Endgame nails the ending, sending this phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe off with one of the best movies of the 22-film saga. Sure, it’s three hours long and, yes, it’s impossible to discuss without giving away a spoiler. But it’s also incredibly entertaining and loaded with so many references/payoff moments from the films leading up to it that multiple viewings are required to catch everything directors Joe and Anthony Russo, and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, have successfully squeezed in.
Prepare to get a little choked up as Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Paul Rudd, (newcomer) Brie Larson, and Jeremy Renner breathe life into Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, The Hulk, Ant-Man, Captain Marvel, and Hawkeye for an absolutely epic Avengers finale. I didn’t cry (I only do so if an animal dies in a film), but the guy next to me at the press screening spent a good deal of time sobbing. And he owned it, not once attempting to stifle his sniffling.
The Avengers: Endgame stars are obviously comfortable in these superhero roles at this point, yet in this outing they each manage to bring some fresh aspects to their characters. This might be the most emotional, gut-wrenching entry in the MCU. However, it also doesn’t skimp on the lighter moments, with Hemsworth, Ruffalo, and Rudd responsible for the film’s funniest lines. Oh, and Rocket Raccoon. Can’t forget the furry little dude’s contributions to the team and to lightening the mood, with Rocket’s humor derived from putting down his fellow Avengers.
The most impressive aspect of what’s sure to be one of the biggest blockbusters in history is how intimate and personal so much of the story is and how quieter character moments aren’t lost in the shuffle. There are spectacular action sequences, some of which are callbacks to earlier battles featuring our favorite costumed superheroes. But those action scenes each fill a specific purpose and aren’t just for the sake of spectacle or fillers to move from one environment to another.
Avengers: Infinity War ended with Thanos (Josh Brolin) wiping out half the world’s population. Avengers: Endgame focuses on the surviving Avengers attempting to reverse Thanos’ “snap” and restore order on Earth. Your assumptions as to how they go about attempting to accomplish their quest, who sets them on the right path, and which characters make the best buddy teams are probably wrong. And you can thank the filmmakers, the cast, and the studio for the amazing job they’ve done concealing not just key moments within the film but, really, the overall basic plot.
Avengers: Endgame is Scarlett Johannson’s best outing as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow. This Natasha is unwavering in her commitment to a team that’s become her family. Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye finally feels like a real person after all these outings. And the broken relationship and strain between Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark/Iron Man and Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers/Captain America is acknowledged, addressed, and played with truth and dignity by both actors.
Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang/Ant-Man, and Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner/The Hulk are used for comic relief which could have, if taken too far, diminished their arcs. Fortunately, the script also gave each of these characters dramatic moments of introspection and a scattering of serious scenes to counterbalance the funny ones.
Brie Larson as Captain Marvel is an outstanding addition to the Avengers team. Larson’s already nailed this character once in her stand-alone film, and Endgame allows her to really strut her stuff in a group environment. It also allowed a special “I am woman, hear me roar” scene that earned a loud cheer at my press screening.
This review’s short of any detailed analysis out of necessity. (Frankly, I had no idea how to approach a review of a film so loaded with potential spoilers.) Describing any specific scene or character interactions from the film could inadvertently reveal the tiniest plot detail that could lead to spoiling a moment best seen in person in a theater packed with fellow Marvel fans. Millions of moviegoers feel emotionally invested in the film adaptations of Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, The Hulk, Captain Marvel, and even Hawkeye (although you’d be hard-pressed to find someone demanding a stand-alone Hawkeye film). What Avengers: Endgame does is give each of these characters multiple opportunities to stand out from the ensemble and have their own independent heroic moments.
Avengers: Endgame is the final superhero outing for many of the Avengers actors. Directors Joe and Anthony Russo did right by these fine actors, and in turn did right by the fans. Endgame’s a near perfect ending to this chapter of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and a fitting farewell to this team of incredible characters.
For those preparing to take in a screening, don’t bother hanging around for post-credits scenes. Avengers: Endgame breaks from the Marvel tradition and does not include extra content after the credits.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and some language
Release Date: April 26, 2019
Running Time: 3 hours 1 minute