Avengers: Endgame is the ultimate cumulation of a Marvel mega-story arc that started in 2008 with the release of Iron Man. It has been 11 years. There have been 22 films. We went from a cave in Afghanistan to the biggest showdown in Marvel movie history. Avengers: Endgame is a love letter to Marvel fans from Marvel Studios.
This review contains spoilers. ALL THE SPOILERS! If you have not watched Avengers: Endgame yet and would like to do so WITHOUT BEING SPOILED, click away!*
Endgame is the sequel to last year’s Infinity War where (spoilers) Thanos obtained all the Infinity stones and snapped away half of the universe.
The movie picks up basically during the Snap. Hawkeye is teaching his daughter how to use a bow and arrow and about to have lunch with his family. You see a shot of his ankle bracelet because he’s still on house arrest thanks to the events of Civil War. His family disappears and he’s left calling for his daughter, sons, and wife.
The first 8 or so minutes of the movie feel like they’d be suited just fine as the post-credits scene to Infinity War. Hawkeye’s family turning to ashes, Iron Man and Nebula are saved by Captain Marvel and Steve Rogers shaves off his beard. The team meets up to give Iron Man, Nebula and Captain Marvel a briefing. This occurs 20 something days after the snap. Natasha gives them, and us, the audience, the current status of the world’s governments and infrastructure as pictures flash up of those they lost. You see Carol Danvers tear up as Nick Fury’s picture flashes up on the screen with moody Thor sitting in the background.
This setup is great. The team runs off to confront Thanos. The Infinity Stones are no more. Thor in a SEAL Team Six move finally goes for the head. All hope is lost so you seek revenge any way you can get it. Twenty minutes in and Thanos is dead. What a bold move by the Russos!
Five years go by and the world mourns. Cap is leading support groups. Black Widow is working herself to death. Hawkeye is going full Ronin by murdering the bad guys who survived the Snap. Everyone tries to find healing in their own way. Bruce makes peace with the Hulk. Thor turns to beer, pizza, and video games with Korg.
This movie is ultimately Iron Man vs. Thanos. Iron Man kicked off this MCU run and Thanos was always the overarching villain of this these first 3 MCU phases. If Endgame is the culmination of this 11-year journey, it only made sense that it would come down to these two.
I am inevitable.
After Tony’s collapse, the team figures out where Thanos is. They go to Titan, find him and learn that he crushed up the Infinity Stones and turned them to dust so the process is irreversible. He sacrificed everything and was there trying to settle into retirement. You almost feel bad for him.
Everyone is the hero of their own story. Thanos believed what he did was right and just. He believed he was bringing balance back to the universe. Even when his past self came to the present with the help of past Nebula, he was sure that he was right. He called the universe ungrateful. It was an incredible performance by Brolin.
I am Iron Man.
Robert Downey, Jr.’s performance in this movie is absolutely flawless. I know people were campaigning for Black Panther to receive an Oscar, but, honestly, Downey Jr. deserves an Oscar just for his opening scene alone. He’s dehydrated. He’s sad. He’s angry. He makes reference to his acid trip in Age of Ultron courtesy of (totally-not-a-mutant) Scarlet Witch. He yells at Rogers, rips the arc reactor from his chest and collapses to the floor.
Brilliant freakin’ stuff here! Gut-wrenching! You can feel his pain and frustration. Tony Stark is the world’s most brilliant mind. He’s supposed to be the futurist. He was supposed to be the one that figured this all out, which he kinda does in the end, but, here, he’s defeated. His sacrifice at the end. Him being the one that outsmarted Thanos, being the one that saved the day and sacrificing his life in the process. After settling down and starting a family with Pepper. After figuring out his daddy issues during the Time Heist. Pepper telling him he can rest now. It was a beautiful end to the Iron Man story.
We will never see another cinematic event like this one. I don’t even think Marvel will be able to replicate this level of long-form storytelling. Perhaps they might be able to stretch out a Galactus story or a proper Pheonix Saga with the Fox acquisition but, even then, not sure if the public will be as patient to see the story play out.
Avengers: Endgame is great, but it is not a perfect movie. The Time Heist to retrieve the Infinity Stones from the past selves was messy. The characters broke their own rules. There were alternative timelines established despite them trying not to. (I understand one of them was really only done to set up the Loki show, but still…) Lebowski Thor was funny, but felt like a joke that went on way too long. The body count at the end of the movie was ridiculously low despite how everything was going down in the final battle.
I did enjoy how the directors were not shy to explore real human emotions. They gave us a brief view of how the world was for those 5 years after the Snap. It reminded me of how we mourned as a nation after 9/11. They showed us how people were coping and/or starting to move on. Thor dealing with panic attacks. Carol overdoing the haircuts. Natasha working herself ragged. Natasha realizing she could never have a chance at a “normal” life and sacrificing herself so Clint could go back to his family.
I enjoyed the fan service. So many Easter Eggs! Cap finally getting his dance with Peggy Carter. Cap wielding Mjolnir! He first swung Mjolnir in the comics when he was U.S. Agent. Professor Hulk! Also, Hulk holding up the building was a nod to Secret Wars Issue #4. The ties to the worst Avengers movie, Age of Ultron. Making that movie relevant. Cap whispering “Hail Hydra” like he did in the comics a few years ago. The women of the MCU basically forming A-Force. And so much more!
One thing that was cool was the nod to Namor and opening the door for that character to make way into the MCU. Namor’s film rights are complicated like the Hulk’s. I believe the only limitation is that Marvel can’t release a Namor solo film, but can be included in Marvel movies.
I loved this movie! I cannot wait to see where the MCU goes from here. There are the makings of Young Avengers here. I’m anxious to see a Falcon Cap movie. I’m guessing Morgan Stark might get the Riri Williams story kinda like MCU Peter Parker got the Miles Morales treatment.
Endgame can be messy and confusing and it is easy to overthink it, but like many action movies… enjoy it for what it is. This movie was made for the fans and paves the way for a bright future for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Endgame is a love letter to the fans. #ThankYouAvengers