How does one go about even contemplating wrapping up a storyline that started back in 2012 with the first Avengers film — not to mention it’s also the culmination of eleven years and twenty-two films — and give fans an ending that will be both exciting and emotionally fulfilling? Well, with Avengers: Endgame, the Russo Brothers somehow managed to pull it off. The journey was not always perfect, but the ride was more than I could have ever hoped for.
In the Avengers: Infinity War, half of the population of the universe had been wiped out of existence by the snap of Thanos’s (Josh Brolin) fingers, so what do our group of heroes —those that survived, that is — do in such a situation? Let’s just say it takes a heavy toll, with some members of the team going into rather dark places to handle their grief. We find the Avengers have scattered themselves all over the planet, trying to make sense of the new world order, with Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and War Machine (Don Cheadle) still holding out hope that The Snap can be reversed, bringing their friends and family back from the dead. Enter Scott Lang aka Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) who at the end of Ant-Man and the Wasp found himself trapped in the quantum realm after The Snap, and it’s his lucky return from this exile that brings hope back to our beleaguered heroes. Realizing that time functions differently in the quantum realm, Scott theorizes that they could build a device that would allow them to navigate their way back through time, which leads to the group deciding to hunt down the Infinity Stones to steal them from different periods in time, thus performing something they call a “Time Heist.”
This, of course, leads to getting the band back together again — once again, those that are left — which includes a reluctant Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), who is quite happy with his current life with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and their five year-old daughter, Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) who has seriously gone to the dark side of vigilantism, and finally Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) who both have had major changes in their lives Post-Snap. Now, the first hour of this three hour superhero epic is mostly spent assembling all the pieces required to get the main plot of Avengers: Endgame going, sprinkled with a nice amount of drama and levity, all to get us to one of the single greatest superhero confrontations in the history of film, and I’m not being hyperbolic here, the big action set-piece of this movie alone is worth more than the $10 dollar price of admission. It is basically comic book splash pages brought to life.
As amazing as this cinematic feat is, and it truly is as breathtakingly fun as one could wish for, there still are a few bumps along the way. In this year’s Captain Marvel film we were introduced to Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) who by the end of her origin story had reached such levels of cosmic powers you were left wondering if Thanos would even be a threat to her, then you have Thor who by the end of Infinity War had reached a whole new level of power of quite staggering proportions, and thus the idea of Thanos lasting more than a minute and a half in a straight up fight seemed all the more questionable. Not to get into spoilers, but the Russo Brothers manage to handle one of these problems better than the other and as well-orchestrated as the attempt was, some fans may still feel a little cheated.
Avengers: Endgame is sprinkled throughout with callback’s and references to events from the previous twenty-one films and never once do these moments come across as cheap fan service; it all goes towards making this installment really feel like a final chapter — though, of course, phase four is just around the corner so it’s not all that final — and with literally hundreds of characters to address, this is no small feat. No matter what criticisms can be laid at the feet of this installment — and this film is most likely going to be nitpicked by many — one thing that can’t be said is that it lacks heart, as this movie is a rollercoaster of emotions that will have you gasping in shock one moment before laughing uncontrollably, and then cheering with exultation as our heroes rise to the challenge. Over the past two decades, we’ve grown to love this group of misfits, from the arrogant Tony Stark to the noble Prince T’Challa, and the Russo Brothers do the almost impossible by giving everyone a moment to shine.
As mentioned, this is a long film, with multiple Lord of the Rings type codas, so the pacing could be an issue to some, but I was having so much fun the time literally flew by, and if audiences have managed to make it through the previous twenty-one films, I can’t see anyone honestly holding the film’s length against it — just make sure you go to the bathroom ahead of time — and no it’s not a perfect film, anything hinging on time travel is doubtless going to have some wrinkles in it, but Avengers: Endgame will be most known for giving us one of the most satisfying, tear-jerking, exciting, action-packed adventure superhero films ever put to film.
And where will the Marvel Cinematic Universe be going after this? Well, we have Spider-Man: Far From Home out this summer, and with that more adventures with the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Black Panther in the offing. I’m more than confident that Phase Four will be just as exciting and fun as the previous ones. Excelsior!
Avengers: Endgame (2019)
Movie Rank - 8.5/10
With Avengers: Endgame the Russo Brothers somehow manage the impossible, as they combined the legacy of two decades worth of material from the Marvel Cinematic Universe into an epic that becomes a modern-day Iliad and the Odyssey. Stan Lee would be proud.