Mild spoilers alluded to in this review.
It took me a very long time to figure out how to approach this review. I was practically raised on this series— an eleven-year-old baby when the first Marvel installment, Iron Man, came out.
It is a pretty long-running joke/phrase/cultural feeling that people are tired of superhero movies. Some people bone-deep hate them— and that these pictures are difficult to ignore with how huge they are in pop culture. And I empathize. But I am, tragically, overwhelmed with a deep love for these films that it drives out my naturally cynical side. I love these movies.
It is a frustrating genre, absolutely. I don’t completely have rose-tinted glasses but it is still something I kept to my heart. Because I love legacy and expansive lore. I love adaptations. I love an idealistic base and people trying to be the best they can be— and that is what Endgame ultimately encompasses.
Avengers: Endgame is a loving dedication to the superhero world Marvel has created, capping the first arc and juggling a surprising amount of character development for each of its original six heroes. It wanted to make you smile, a big tonal departure from from Infinity War and a necessary one. I don’t mean to say that the nuance of grief is unneeded in a large production— it absolutely is. But Endgame falls back on a Golden-Age feeling, a more classic superhero feel as it says goodbye to the first, long stretch of the series. Most of all, Endgame wanted to remind you where this whole journey started, when things were a little brighter.
After the alien-induced rapture at the end of Infinity War, our original Avengers are left on a desolate Earth that is dealing with an unbearable loss. Departed friends, children, and loved-ones has left a surprising amount mystery around the central goal of the film. There wasn’t a moment where you would doubt that T’Challa or Peter wouldn’t be back— it was the how they would be back that drives the film, with a fast-paced and snappy momentum.
Basically, one of these solutions is a time-heist and without getting too much into what that entails, it allows the movie to go back and revisit the Cinematic Universe’s high points (or middle points). With our heroes’ backs to the wall, a desperation turns into craftiness as they debate and bicker over magical science, falling into a cast chemistry that has been the heart of these movies. And it is a surprisingly niche mission for their final hurrah.
Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark has been as natural to the actor as breathing and his love poured into the playboy billionaire with a heart holds the plan together this round. Tony finds a calm that hasn’t been granted to him in over a decade, putting him at surprising odds against the others. His growth, redemption, and new family makes Tony suddenly the most stable Avenger.
On the flip side, Chris Evans’s Captain America continues to suffer loss and falls back into the muted depression that has been a defining, if often overlooked, characteristic of the hero since the end of his first movie. Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff strives to find a type of redemption that puts her at rest. Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk finds an equilibrium, Chris Hemsworth’s Thor falls into despair after the complete bloodshed of his people, Jeremy Renner’s gets bloodthirsty and an interesting haircut.
There were definitely parts that falter— a lot of the arcs for the characters were shifted to make things lighter or quickly pushed aside to move on to the next thing. Because of the overstuff of content, content, content, the movie forgets to sit down and cry over the shocking thing we just saw. The first half of the film tries to remedy this old Marvel habit but drops it at the latter half for some important scenes.
Not everyone gets their goodbye— which hurts. As a fan, I need to remember who would reasonably could get their share of screen time. But even then, a line or two more dedicated to beloved relationships would have been just fine. And I definitely have some Thoughts on the send-off for one of the flagship characters.
But I was still smiling through a lot of Endgame.
Because I saw this movie on Thursday at 12 A.M. Three hours long and running purely on coffee, I let shocked yelps and gasps that was shared across the theater. The final battle was chock-full of these character who only ever thought would stay on the glossy pages of a four dollar single issue. While I believe it is vital that we all view industries with a critical lens, it genuinely is wild that this franchise was able to happen and sustain for for so long. Endgame was built to be the series finale and it did just that.
Avengers: Endgame is in theaters now— head to State Theater for the closest showing.