Once in a great while, we are privileged to experience a[n] event so extraordinary, it becomes part of our shared heritage.
1969: Man walks on the moon.
1971: Man walks on the moon…again.
Then, for a long time, nothing happened. Until tonight.”
-Krusty the Clown
“The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show”
Over the course of my life, I have been privileged to witness many of pop culture’s defining events. Each of these moments came in different ways, under different circumstances; some were unexpected surprises that ended up transcending time, others were hyped and built up for a long time, until the day they were finally unleashed upon history.
AVENGERS: ENDGAME falls into the latter category. This isn’t just your ordinary summer blockbuster – far from it. This isn’t just another Marvel Studios film – or simply just the 22nd entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, for that matter. No, this is a cinematic event. This is a pop culture event. For many, this is also a generational event, built up over the course of 11 years and 21 previous films. Just wrap your brain around this for a minute: the culmination of 11 years’ worth of storylines and character arcs. When have we ever had to wait this long for a franchise payoff? So again – this isn’t just another popcorn flick, nope. This is the Endgame.
Following the universe-shattering events of AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR, the Earth is in shambles. With half of the planet’s population gone, the remaining members of the Avengers – Tony Stark/Iron Man (played by Robert Downey Jr.), Steve Rogers/Captain America (played by Chris Evans), Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk (played by Mark Ruffalo), Thor (played by Chris Hemsworth), Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (played by Scarlett Johansson), Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper), and James Rhodes/War Machine (played by Don Cheadle) – attempt to track down the Mad Titan, Thanos (played by Josh Brolin) and undo the damage he has wrought. However, as they soon find out, that feat will be easier said than done.
(Note: This review will be relatively shorter than previous reviews for the simple fact that there’s a lot to this film that I can’t talk about without spoilers. As such, I’m going to keep my thoughts strictly to ENDGAME’s technical aspects. I will get into spoilers with Adolfo when we do our AVENGERS: ENDGAME episode of Forced Perspective (slated to drop next week)).
Much like the final film in any franchise, the story of ENDGAME breezes along in an almost cathartic way. And yes, while technically this isn’t the final film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (not by a long shot), ENDGAME does mark the end of this particular era of the MCU. As such, there’s very little in the way of character development – as there’s already been 21 films’ worth of it, and directors Anthony and Joe Russo assume you’ve watched them all at this point – but what this film does is bring all outstanding character arcs to an earnest and satisfying conclusion. With the film jumping from one plot point to the next with earned gusto, ENDGAME doesn’t even feel like it is 3 hours and 2 minutes long. The audience at this point is so invested in the universe, in the story, in the characters, and the film’s brilliant pacing helps keep the audience on the edge of their seats, never giving them a dull moment. This is such a tremendous feat, and both the Russos and their crew deserve all the credit in the world for putting such a spectacle together.
On that same note, a huge kudos to all of the actors involved as well. ENDGAME was obviously a passion project not just for Marvel Studios and the filmmakers, but also for the cast. Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner (who plays Clint Barton/Hawkeye/Ronin), and Scarlett Johansson are all tremendous here, and if I may say, each of them acted their butts off. It’s actually not surprising, considering the amount of time that these actors have spent with their respective characters and just how much those characters mean to their careers. The endgame (no pun intended) was always to give their characters the curtain call they each deserve, and it’s so obvious how much the actors are enjoying themselves while accomplishing this. Paul Rudd (who plays Scott Lang/Ant-Man), Brie Larson (who plays Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel), Danai Gurira (who plays Okoye), Karen Gillan (who plays Nebula), and Brolin all provide great supporting work as well.
The one thing (which may come off as a nitpick) I will say is that with so many characters involved in the story, it does become a struggle to give each character the right amount of screen time – especially during the big climactic battle, where there’s just so much going on that it’s easy to lose track of characters. But it seems like that’s something that just comes with the territory, and unlike other franchises (TRANSFORMERS, for example), ENDGAME – and the MCU – has earned the right to do this.
There’s really not much more I can possibly add without going into spoiler territory, so I will end on this point: I loved AVENGERS: ENDGAME. Sitting amongst the audience on opening night (after sitting through the grueling Marvel Studios 22-Movie Marathon – more on that in a future article), I can’t remember the last time a film made me feel like a kid again. When those end credits started to roll, I sunk back into my chair and just absorbed this rush of emotions. In an almost cleansing way, I was glad that the ride was over – but then I became sad. I was sad because this film is, for all intents and purposes, the end of an era. Beginning with the MCU’s next entry, SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME, things will never be the same. The story that has been told across all 22 films represents a level of creativity and patience that I don’t think will ever be duplicated (except maybe by Marvel themselves). I was sad because the ride. was. over. And in that instance, after further reflecting, I became happy – happy because I got to experience it, in all of its glory.
For those people that followed the MCU since its inception in 2008 with IRON MAN, AVENGERS: ENDGAME was made with you in mind. It is the most fan service-y of the MCU films, but that’s something that again, in my opinion, has been earned. ENDGAME gives the fans what they want to see, and puts a cap on an incredible 22-film run. There will be laughter. There will be shock. There will be gasps. There will be crying. There will be smiling. This film truly runs the emotional spectrum, and makes us (the audience) all the more grateful that we were able to go on this ride. So right now there’s really not much else to say except, ‘Thank You.’
Thank you to Kevin Feige, the Russos, all of the actors, all of the production crew members, and Marvel Studios as a whole. Thank you for creating such an incredible franchise and giving us an amazing conclusion to such an epic story. But when one door closes, another opens – and if these last 11 years are any indication, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is just getting started. Avengers Assemble!
Anthony & Joe Russo
2019 • 182 Minutes • United States
Color • English • Marvel Studios
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Paul Rudd, Bradley Cooper, Don Cheadle, Brie Larson, Danai Gurira, Karen Gillan, Josh Brolin