Avengers: Endgame wraps up the story of the MCU so far, delivering an epic superhero adventure while honoring the past in a satisfying finale.
Marvel Studios kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe nearly 11 years ago with 2008’s Iron Man. Back then, they had a relatively modest vision of building to The Avengers by assembling a team of heroes from their respective origin movies into a single unit. In the decade since Robert Downey Jr. made his debut as Iron Man, the MCU has grown to include superheroes from all across the universe, from Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to the Guardians of the Galaxy. Now, Avengers: Endgame marks the 22nd film in the MCU and sets out to achieve a feat Hollywood has never seen attempted before by ending the story that first began in Iron Man. And it does, in a spectacular accomplishment. Avengers: Endgame wraps up the story of the MCU so far, delivering an epic superhero adventure while honoring the past in a satisfying finale.
Avengers: Endgame picks up after the events of Avengers: Infinity War, which saw the Avengers divided and defeated. Thanos won the day and used the Infinity Stones to snap away half of all life in the universe. Only the original Avengers – Iron Man, Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) – remain, along with some key allies in the forms of War Machine (Don Cheadle), Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) Nebula (Karen Gillan) and Captain Marvel (Brie Larson). Each of the survivors deal with the fallout from Thanos’ Decimation in different ways, but when an opportunity presents itself to potentially save those who vanished, they all come together and set out to defeat Thanos, once and for all.
For Avengers: Endgame, Marvel Studios assembles its veterans behind the scenes as well, re-teaming directors Anthony and Joe Russo, who joined the MCU with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, with screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, who’ve penned a total of six MCU movies since Captain America: The First Avenger. All that’s to say, Avengers: Endgame fits perfectly within the larger MCU in terms of direction and screenwriting because it was created by those who had a prominent hand in crafting the sprawling cinematic universe. And with so much experience under their belts, the Russos excel at balancing the superhero spectacle with human drama, while the more focused story of Endgame allows for the characters to truly shine. There are moments when the story gets a little unwieldy, suffering from similar problems to Infinity War in maintaining a consistent pace throughout the entire film. But Avengers: Endgame is meant to be a culminating epic and it’s clear that the Russos, Markus and McFeely took the care to make sure they got it right.
At the heart of Avengers: Endgame are the heroes we’ve been following since the very beginning. At this point in the franchise, there’re too many heroes for one movie – even a three-hour movie – to focus on all of them. Avengers: Infinity War undoubtedly struggled under the weight of balancing so many characters. With half the universe gone, Endgame is able to focus on the original six Avengers, who are the true center of the MCU (at least, so far). The film remarkably balances its character arcs so well it’s as if each hero gets a solo movie in Avengers: Endgame. There are certain character beats that may not work for all viewers, and even within the original six, certain heroes get more focus than others, unfortunately. To their credit, though, the actors give some of their best performances in the MCU, especially the original six: Downey, Evans, Hemsworth, Ruffalo, Johansson and Renner. Even with future movies or TV shows already planned for some characters, this is the original Avengers team’s swan song, and the actors put their hearts and souls into Avengers: Endgame.
In addition to the character drama, Avengers: Endgame delivers superhero spectacle like nothing seen in the MCU – or any other superhero movie – ever before. With Endgame acting as the conclusion of the MCU thus far, it goes all in on action. There are times when Endgame falls back into Marvel’s old problems (hordes of unimportant villains, too much CGI and muted coloring), but they’re tempered with character-focused moments. While most of these are in service of the core six, each Marvel hero in Avengers: Endgame gets a moment to truly shine and join in on the superhero fun. Some of these moments are unashamedly fan service and, in fact, there’s a great deal of fan service in Avengers: Endgame overall. But after 11 years and 21 movies, Marvel has earned some fan service, and it all adds to the epic, event nature of Avengers: Endgame.
Ultimately, Avengers: Endgame is a whole lotta movie, but the filmmakers put every single second of its three-hour runtime to good use. Since Endgame concludes the Infinity Saga (the official title of the story thus far), Marvel and the filmmakers have the unenviable task of delivering a movie that satisfies all MCU fans. While there are bound to be aspects of Avengers: Endgame that don’t work for all viewers, for the most part the movie actually, truly offers a satisfying ending to the Infinity Saga. As a result, Avengers: Endgame is a must-see for Marvel fans, even those who have only a casual interest in the MCU. Because of the spectacle, it’s worth seeing Avengers: Endgame in IMAX, though it isn’t necessary to enjoy the movie. Marvel Studios’ latest faces the highest expectations of any Marvel Studios movie thus far and manages to exceed them, which is nothing short of extraordinary. Simply speaking, Avengers: Endgame is one of the best Marvel movies ever.
Avengers: Endgame starts playing in U.S. theaters Thursday evening April 25th. It is 181 minutes long and rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and some language.
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