Director: Anthony and Joe Russo
Screenplay: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Josh Brolin, Don Cheadle, Karen Gillan, Scarlett Johansson, Brie Larson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeremy Renner, Paul Rudd (and many more)
Running Length: 181 minutes
Synopsis: Adrift in space with no food or water, Tony Stark sends a message to Pepper Potts as his oxygen supply starts to dwindle. Meanwhile, the remaining Avengers – Thor, Black Widow, Captain America and Bruce Banner – must figure out a way to bring back their vanquished allies for an epic showdown with Thanos – the evil demigod who decimated the planet and the universe.
While efforts have been made to keep the review as spoiler-free as possible, it’s impossible to calibrate what constitutes a spoiler to everyone. If you’re truly sensitive to any spoilers please do not proceed till you have watched the movie.
Review: And so it ends – an epic journey across 22 films, 11 years and a truly labyrinthine mass of superheroes, characters and plots culminates in what is undoubtedly THE event movie of the year (sorry, Star Wars). Of course this won’t be the end of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (or possibly even The Avengers), but the Russo Brothers have crafted a film that truly feels like an end of an era, and what a sendoff it is.
While last year’s Infinity War felt incomplete, halting at a pivotal point where half the living things in universe turns to dust after Thanos uses the six Infinity Gems, Endgame does not have the same issue. And now, when the two films are viewed together, they finally give a complete picture of the showdown with Thanos, one that bears very real costs to the ones left fighting the good fight. As an added bonus, the fact that Thanos’ Decimation (aka the finger snap) had removed half the superhero roster is actually a good thing, simply because there are less characters to split the narrative over, which was one of the issues that plagued Infinity War.
One would also have expected that there would be even more action set pieces in Endgame, but the Russo Brothers actually buck that expectation, slowing things down and really taking time with the narrative to tie up some of the loose plot threads that have developed over the span of Marvel films. It’s a Herculean effort, but scribes Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely are largely successful. Did the show really need to run over three hours long? I would hazard to say not really, but given the nature of the film, every single character’s resolution needed to be included, with generous amounts of fan service thrown in, which in turn necessitates the extended running time. Fortunately, there are some very major plot developments that take place, especially in the final hour, that help to make the film feel shorter than it is.
While this is not the first franchise that set out to create a universe of its own, it can now be definitively said that there’s been no world-building that has come close to what Marvel has achieved in this franchise. The truly impressive thing about Endgame is how it manages to thread everything together, particularly in referencing events that takes place outside of the four “official” Avengers movies. Literally the entire MCU shows up in one form or another in Endgame, and even a casual viewer of the Marvel canon would likely find themselves feeling nostalgia over some characters or scenes referenced in the film. For dedicated fans of the Marvel universe, Endgame would probably trigger a desire to rewatch many of the films that came before it.
What truly makes Endgame stand out amongst the Marvel films is that it has a much stronger emotional core and heart than a typical superhero movie, and while there are some potentially tear-jerking moments, it’s also filled with levity and humor, something that’s necessary for a three-hour movie to not buckle under its own narrative weight. Surprisingly, Endgame is one of the funniest Marvel films to have been released in the past few years, and some scenes had me actually laughing out loud, no mean feat given the grave nature of much of the proceedings.
It’s no secret that the OG Marvel crew cannot feasibly carry the franchise to an indefinite end, given the nature of Hollywood contracts and options (and age), and Endgame likely spells the sidelining or end of the road for many of these characters moving forward. It has been clear for years that the mantle is being passed on to newer (and younger) players in the franchise, but it remains to be seen whether they would be able to keep the light of the MCU shining as brightly as before. And while I will not be revealing the fates of any of the superheroes in this review, suffice to say that there is a genuine sense of loss in bidding a proper farewell to these characters we have spent a decade with, something that I had not anticipated going into the movie, and well worth the price of entry on its own.
Rating: * * * ½ (out of four stars)