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Avengers: Endgame Review

April 27, 2019 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
Avengers Endgame
9.5
The 411 Rating
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Avengers: Endgame Review  

Directed By: Anthony and Joe Russo
Written By: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely; Based on the Marvel comics and characters
Runtime: 181 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13

Robert Downey Jr. – Tony Stark/Iron Man
Chris Evans – Steve Rogers/Captain America
Chris Hemsworth – Thor
Scarlett Johansson – Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow
Mark Ruffalo – Bruce Banner/The Hulk
Josh Brolin – Thanos
Brie Larson – Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel
Jeremy Renner – Clint Barton/Hawkeye
Paul Rudd – Scott Lang/Ant-man
Karen Gillan – Nebula
Bradley Cooper – Rocket
Don Cheadle – James Rhodes/War Machine
Danai Gurira – Okoye

“Dyed-in-the-wool Avengers fans know that over the years there have been many changes in the star-studded roster, but they also know one thing will never change…Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, you can expect the best in thrills, fun and fantasy whenever you hear that spellbinding cry — Avengers assemble! Excelsior!”

– Stan Lee, from Avengers Masterworks Vol. 1, 1988.

Author’s Note: This is a spoiler-free review.

The Avengers faced the ultimate evil. They came together. They fought. They struggled, and they lost. They lost almost everything. The Avengers who came together and previously came through to defend the Earth were beaten. They were left in broken shambles and supremely defeated. The Avengers fought Thanos, and Thanos won. Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Endgame shows what comes next. While the Avengers are down, they are not out.

Last year’s Avengers: Infinity War left audiences reeling. The Thanos snap was a kick in the gut. Many of the MCU’s brightest heroes, some who were only recently introduced, vanished in the blink of an eye. Avengers: Endgame leaves the remaining heroes still shattered from that loss. The defeat by Thanos is still a fresh, open wound. However, superheroes don’t give up, and neither do the Avengers. Thanos is still out there, and the Avengers have a job to do.

Without giving anything away, as heart-wrenching and harrowing an experience as Infinity War was, nothing has prepared audiences for both the spectacle and emotions of Avengers: Endgame. This is very much a culmination of eleven years of the previously established Marvel Cinematic Universe, but even that alone is an understatement of what directors Anthony and Joe Russo have achieved here. Endgame is not just a culmination, but also a celebration of everything people have come to love about these characters.

Understandably, coming in at a whopping three-hour plus runtime, this is really the most complex MCU installment to date. Thankfully the Russos, as they’ve done in the past, are able to manage many spinning plates, and they maintain a compelling pace throughout a very long movie, which could’ve easily become a downtrodden, underwhelming slog. The difference between this and a cinematic experience such as Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is that it doesn’t dangle the carrot in front of the audience only to deliver a rotten one later. Endgame honors and celebrates these characters and fulfills many moments longtime comic fans and audiences have been waiting to see for years.

Not only that, Endgame is easily the most intense film to come out of this decade-plus franchise, and that’s after the multiple needles in the heart that came with Infinity War. The Russos definitely know how to push the audience’s buttons and put them in nervous suspense. Thankfully, that gets released with some properly-timed levity that never becomes too overbearing. From a tonal standpoint, the film takes the right path.

Don’t be confused. The emotional gut punches are far from over, but this movie will legitimately have all fans, young and old, cheering, crying or screaming, and in varying combinations thereof throughout its three-plus hours. Without giving anything away, there are some amazing and satisfactory payoffs that prove the Russos are worthy of this great responsibility.

There are definitely some surprises and aversions of expectations throughout Endgame, but nothing is egregious. The situation for Endgame is basically as follows: Audiences are best served forgetting everything they think they know.

Audiences should also forget everything they’ve seen. Even the moviegoers who haven’t forgotten needn’t worry. Endgame proves why the Russos, Kevin Feige and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely have pulled off one of the most clever jobs in cinematic history to keep a movie of this magnitude largely a secret. The trailer footage and TV spots are not even a “picogram in an Olympic-sized swimming pool,” as Jon Jones would say. They are possibly even less. Nothing has really prepared anyone for the experience that unfolds in Endgame.

Chris Evans truly gets to shine in this film. The Russos have done a fantastic job with their understanding and depiction of this character. Cap gets to shine as the heart and soul of the remaining Avengers team. Robert Downey Jr. and his emotional journey is very much at the center of things as well. They are essentially the main dueling protagonists. It’s understandable. Downey’s Iron Man was really the start of this and got the ball rolling on the MCU. Infinity War was really Thanos’ time to shine. This time, it’s Cap and Iron Man in the spotlight.

Other characters in Endgame get the opportunity to come to the forefront and do some things that are different and interesting. Chris Hemsworth deserves so much credit for his performance as Thor. What happens to Thor is mind-boggling and defies all expectations.

Another character who has been in the background but really gets the chance for a more fleshed out role, is Karen Gillan’s Nebula. She received more screentime and a more pivotal role, which really works.

Considering characters who were not even in Infinity War make their returns in Endgame, such as Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye and Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang, that means other characters and subplots they are involved in have to get serviced. It’s almost strange how despite all the characters and subplots that are serviced in the film, none of what’s shown in Endgame feels like a chore to watch.

Now, to be clear, Endgame is definitely an experience where it makes watching the previous films required viewing. Those who have paid attention for the last twenty-two films are the ones who will be rewarded the most. With that in mind, Avengers: Endgame can be compared to a series finale for a beloved massive, epic TV or book series. At times, the MCU has had an evocation of a TV series format, simply dialed up to one million and on a more massive scale, and that can be seen here in a few ways. For the OG comic readers and True Believers — they know who they are — they will be equally overjoyed seeing their favorite characters come to life in a way that not even the past MCU installments have accomplished before.

Writers Markus and McFeely do introduce a few ideas and subplots that are a bit mind-twisting and confusing. These issues don’t completely bog the movie down, but they are there. Additionally, it might take multiple viewing experiences to really let everything that takes place in Avengers: Endgame sink in. Obviously, there are moments and resolutions that will likely be debated, and possibly even picked apart for years to come; but considering the story that’s unfolded for the last 11 years, this is a film deserving of many accolades.

If there is one single drawback to this film, it’s that sinking feeling that Endgame is the pinnacle of the MCU. The Russos and Feige seem to have left it all in the cage here, so to speak. The current challenge will be where things go from here, and if this experience can ever be topped. That said, Marvel Studios has proven countless times in the past that betting against the MCU is probably as egregious an error as betting against the Avengers.

Another minor issue is that there is that sinking feeling that Endgame is the pinnacle of the MCU. The Russos and Feige seem to have left it all in the cage so to speak here. The current challenge will be where things go from here, and if this experience can ever be topped. That said, Marvel Studios has proven countless times in the past that betting against the MCU is probably as egregious an error as betting against the Avengers.

When I was six years old, I discovered the phrase “make mine Marvel.” For anyone whoever discovered that phrase and knows what it means, Avengers: Endgame reinforces why it will never leave you for the rest of your life. ‘Nuff said.

9.5
The final score: review Amazing
The 411
Nothing anyone has seen will prepare them for the spectacle of Avengers: Endgame. In what is both a culmination and celebration of all things Marvel and Marvel superheroes, longtime fans will be rewarded for one of the most emotional and gut-wrenching experiences to date. Viewers of Avengers: Endgame will be left reeling after a three-hour experience. When they exit the theater, their main thought will likely be, "When can I go back to a theater to see it again?"
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