Note about spoilers: This review will be based on my own impressions and thoughts on the film and will endeavor to steer clear of spoilers (though there will be spoilers for “Infinity War”). That being said, if you are hoping to watch “Avengers: Endgame” with the freshest possible eyes, go see the movie, then come back here.
After 11 years, more than 20 films and with countless cameos, Marvel will release “Avengers: Endgame” on Friday, April 26. “Endgame” is an ostensibly part four of the “Avengers” films, bringing together a group of heroes from their own pictures and beyond, but is more accurately Part II of last year’s “Infinity War.”
“Endgame” picks up around where “Infinity War” left off, with our heroes in a state of either outright despair or near death. Tony is stranded in space, while a group of survivors monitor the global losses following the snap, when Thanos used the Infinity Stones to wipe out half of all living things on Earth and beyond. After being trapped in the Quantum Realm for an indefinite amount of time, Scott Lang (Antman) emerges with a plan that takes the Avengers to far flung corners of the galaxy and the past.
After what I found to a disappointment in “Infinity War,” I had modest expectation for how satisfactory I could find the conclusion that “Endgame” would bring. I had essentially two requirements: nothing so hand-wavy that there was no point in making “Infinity War” in the first place, and a satisfying conclusion for the characters known to be exiting the franchise (in their current iteration). This movie smashed my expectations and perfectly satisfied my wildest hopes for closure.
This movie breathed joy back into the characters and the story in a way that was believable and, frankly, a relief. After the truly bleak conclusion of “Infinity War,” I feared “Endgame” would be a slog towards a return to equilibrium. However, through a plot detail I will not reveal, the film pivots towards a tone that is not only bearable, but optimistic. The easy banter is there, the smash-bang fights are enjoyable again, and, oh boy, does Captain America have quips.
The movie also brings the relationship development that is so crucial to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While “Infinity War” languished time and space on characters whose arcs and rapport were generally lacking, “Endgame” returns to relationships that are richer and more dynamic for the time spent away. In 2012’s “Avengers,” audiences were given a backstory of the friendship of Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow) and Clint Barton (Hawkeye), but that set up was left to fade over the following films. Barton’s return in this film as Ronin, a vengeful vigilante, echoes back to the foundation of their friendship and balances a persistent camaraderie with complications of two people growing and changing apart. We also see development of the tension and absolution between Steve (Captain America) and Tony (Iron Man), but where past films focused on the emotional turmoil of Tony, this film gives more space and consideration to Steve.
After much soul searching, I have come up with two things I can nitpick. The first is a slight spoiler, but I will say there is an interesting choice made in how to portray Thor’s handling of the aftermath of the snap.
The second is a larger issue with the accessibility of the film. While MCU films typically are made to be so marketable and universally appealing that they steer clear of enjoyment of the film relying on a universal schema of the universe. “Infinity War” featured a lot of plot points and cameos that were a little baffling if you had not seen the core films of the franchise. “Endgame” requires scene specific recall for several of the big impact moments of the film. As the release of this movie approached, many fans embarked on a full saga rematch, and I do not think that is a bad idea. At the very least, I recommend refreshing your memory of the “Avengers” films before going into the theater.
For me, this movie was an immensely satisfying conclusion to a certain subset of the universe and dynamic of relationships. As a core Marvel fan, I sobbed nearly hysterically for the last half of the movie in joy, sadness or just being overwhelmed. My last recommendation: go to the bathroom before the movie starts. At 3 hours and 12 minutes, this movie is a marathon made up of entirely unmissable scenes.