Avengers: Endgame (2019)
SHOULD I SEE IT?
The film which concludes this iteration of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. How are you not seeing this?
In breathtaking fashion, Avengers: Endgame may rival only Black Panther as the best MCU film ever made.
The most entertaining, emotional, compelling, and fascinating superhero movie in years. The Russo Brothers have crafted a movie that is more than just a huge box office hit. This is a film we will be discussing for years and years to come.
You checked out of the MCU experience some 10, 15, or 20 movies ago.
You purposely avoid any experience which provides escapism or fun.
Your hipster aesthetic simply cannot allow you to sully your hands with a “comic book” movie. Also: get over yourself and have fun with the rest of us. Also also: The DC Extended Universe is not better. So stop that, just stop that right now.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has delivered around 48 hours and 20 seconds of theatrical material for fans to consume, debate, discuss, enjoy or dismiss. And perhaps, just perhaps, this franchise’s unrelenting popularity, sustainability, and unprecedented success is best defined by the final 45 minutes or so of the 22nd entry in the MCU: Avengers: Endgame.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not implying that the only thing that matters in the entire MCU comes in the form of 45 minutes at the end of the 22nd film in the series. Even naysayers have to acknowledge that Marvel’s groundbreaking experiment to tell an interconnected series of stories over the course of a decade is bold, ambitious, and an unparalleled risk. No matter where you fall on this entire MCU journey - obsessive fan, casual viewer, hater, or the person who thought “that Black Panther movie was fun” - Endgame is undoubtedly THE main event we have all been waiting for.
And these final 45 minutes are cooking with gas.
Reflecting back at my 44 years on this planet, besides maybe Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I cannot recall a bigger cinematic premiere in my lifetime. Everyone knows about this movie. Everyone is one or two people removed from people with tickets to see this. Everyone comprises a lot of people expecting a lot of things.
And directors Anthony and Joe Russo deliver something bigger, mightier, and more powerful than I could have imagined. Following the cumbersome and frustrating, but still intriguing Infinity War in May 2018, Endgame is crisp, clean, exceptional filmmaking. Never boring at 181 minutes, the film steers itself away from so many predictable prat falls and stumbles, and still closes several storylines, delivers fan service to the most devout viewers in attendance, preps us for what’s on the horizon, and brings smiles, tears, joy, sadness, and optimism in large doses.
Endgame is rich with spoilers. In fact, this is probably the third or fourth draft of my review you are reading because I have had to go back and strip out key plot points which give significant things away. I have zero interest in doing that spoiler thing, but…we should remind ourselves just how we got here.
(In)Famously, at the end of Infinity War, Thanos (Josh Brolin), the even-tempered, ice-veined supervillain, acquired all six infinity stones which holds the universe in balance. He placed them into a specially-made glove and slipped the glove on his right hand. Once the glove became interconnected with his body, a simple snap of his fingers eradicated half of the population throughout the universe. Numerous beloved Marvel superheroes met their demise, turning to dust when “The Snap” occurred. And in a startling prologue to Endgame, we are reminded just what type of impact Thanos' actions had for those “lucky” enough to survive.
We know and expect that surviving Avengers are going to assemble once again to try and defeat Thanos and do whatever they can to undo his deadly act. We see how things have evolved, stayed the same or worsened some five years into the future.
How the Avengers assemble, and who is all involved, is not my story to tell. You will see this movie, probably at the top of the next hour, and learn all those details soon enough. Just prepare for numerous elements from the previous 21 films and 45 viewing hours to resurface on their journey to hopefully vanquishing Thanos.
The Russo Brothers, who seemed to struggle with key moments in Infinity War, have nothing holding them back this time. Linear, logical, and very well structured, the stakes genuinely feel important this time around. The screenplay by Christopher Markus and Steven McFeely (Infinity War, the Captain America films) builds beautifully, folding in details and reminders from previous films, while remaining innately focused on a climactic series of events that prove both emotional and exhilarating to watch unfold.
Robert Downey, Jr. tempers down the comedic snark just enough to give us a soul-bearing look at what Tony Stark/Iron Man has been looking for through all of his adventures. Chris Evans downshifts to find steely-eyed, unwavering resolve as Captain America, and Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow character gets more screen time and significance than ever before up to this point.
Chris Hemsworth steals the show as a Thor who has seen better days. A hilarious, effortless, comedic turn, Hemsworth finds a genuineness within the context of everything and everyone who survived "The Snap."
You get answers as to how Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) fit into the story.
And some may balk at scenes which embrace representation and inclusivity, seeing them as forced or on-the-nose. However, the way these themes are handled offers the promise of a fresh, new direction which feels encouraging. The fact that, in the 48th hour of a 22-film story being told, we are still sitting on the edge of our seats, clinging to our arm-rests, breathless in anticipation - well, even DC Extended Universe apologists would have to acknowledge that this MCU thing is quite an impressive achievement.
I have liked most, but not all of the MCU films. Those first two Thor movies are…rough. And I have often felt that when all of these Avengers have assembled before, those movies have largely been the weakest of the bunch.
Rest assured: The Russo Brothers and all involved got this one right. So, so right.
With the exception of the Oscar-winning Black Panther, Endgame proves far superior to nearly everything that has come before it in the MCU. And while think pieces will begin the inevitable teardown of this detail or that detail, I just have to admit as loudly as I can:
I loved this thing.
So, whether it is 48 hours, or 22 movies, or just 45 total minutes: Whatever metric you use to define what Phases I-III of the MCU meant to you as a viewer, Endgame is a brilliant close to a chapter of filmmaking we will likely never see again in our lifetime.
CAST & CREW
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Josh Brolin, Mark Ruffalo, Bradley Cooper, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Gwyneth Paltrow, Brie Larson, Karen Gillan, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chadwick Boseman, Evangeline Lilly, Tom Holland, Zoe Saldana, Tessa Thompson, Anthony Mackie, Elizabeth Olson, Rene Russo, Sebastian Stan, Tom Hiddleston, Danai Gurira, Tilda Swinton, Jon Favreau, Hayley Atwell, Taika Waititi, Vin Diesel, Letitia Wright, John Slattery, Chris Pratt, Robert Redford.
Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Written by: Christopher Markus, Steve McFeely
Based on “The Avengers” comic book franchise, written by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
Based on the comic book series “The Infinity Gauntlet”, written by Jim Starlin.
Release Date: April 26, 2019
Walt Disney Pictures