Warning: This is a very in-depth review of “Avengers: Endgame,” and will contain major, major spoilers. Read this after you’ve seen the film, or beware.
Well, what a roller coaster of emotions that was. “Avengers: Endgame” ended the near 11-year storyline connecting the movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) in truly epic fashion.
In a major balancing act, all of the original Avengers (Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, Thor, Hulk, Hawkeye and Ant-Man) got their moment to shine, while closing the doors on the two characters that tied the entire MCU together.
Following the events of “Avengers: Infinity War,” the heroes that remain are broken and in shambles, trying to figure out how to cope with Thanos wiping out half of the Earth’s inhabitants.
The team visits Thanos on his farm and in a fit of rage, Thor cuts his head off after learning the mad Titan had already destroyed the Infinity Stones, leaving the team with no method to reverse the snap heard round the world.
Five years pass, and everyone still struggles to cope with what’s happened. Enter Ant-Man, who by chance escapes from the Quantum Realm, and meets with the surviving members of the team and proposes an insane plan, or time-heist if you will.
With the help of a reluctant Iron Man, the team goes back in time to retrieve the Infinity Stones during moments from previous films, such as the Battle of New York in the first Avengers film.
I remember seeing the first “Iron Man” film in 2008 when I was just 12 years old. Essentially I grew up with these films and these characters, many of them that were new entities to me.
Yet over the years, I have become attached to the MCU and every movie brings something different and good to the table (except for the first two “Thor” movies).
So suffice it to say, I was pretty excited to see how this chapter of the MCU would end, and I gotta hand it to everyone involved; it was a spectacle for the ages. So sit back, relax and check out this incredibly long review of “Avengers: Endgame.
You may think that with the stakes so immense and dire, this would be a very serious film compared to other Avengers endeavors.
Yet somehow, writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely manage to balance the bleak steaks with the usual humor you expect from a Marvel movie, and it doesn’t feel out of place.
One minute Tony Stark will be playing flick football with Nebula, the next he’ll be leaving a somber message for Pepper Potts. It’s a testament to the writing and the acting of everyone involved that it flows so smoothly.
The film continues to tow the fine line between funny and serious, as every big moment is treated with the proper reverence.
Much like “Avengers: Infinity War,” this film manages to treat every character with importance, and nobody feels insignificant.
While Captain Marvel is only in the movie for about 15 minutes, her impact is felt whenever she’s in it, as she is the only Avenger able to go toe to toe with Thanos (Scarlet Witch also put in a good showing), and would’ve beat him had he not used the power stone.
I wish we would’ve seen more of the characters who were dusted (Drax didn’t really even get one good line, which is a crime) but that’s a nitpick since the story focuses on the original Avengers line-up.
Time Travel Nonsense
A big risk this film took was the implementation of time travel through the quantum realm. This is a pretty bold choice, because time travel in film always gets confusing, with a bunch of rules and loopholes.
“Avengers: Endgame” knows this, and doesn’t take a lot of time to explain how their version of time travel works, and the movie benefits for it. We just know that whatever they do in the past doesn’t change the future, it creates an alternate timeline (I think, it’s still a bit confusing).
Thankfully, the movie is easy enough to follow, and for me, I wasn’t trying to overthink it. It also helped that other time travel movies and tropes were addressed and made fun of, helping distinguish what rules this film followed and which ones it didn’t.
And what a great choice it was to travel back to events from previous Marvel movies. It provided plenty of opportunities for fan service (such as Captain America fooling the S.H.I.E.L.D. double agents with a well placed “Hail Hydra,” or getting to see The Ancient One again, as it’s always a treat to see Tilda Swinton do her thing).
In a way, both middle sections of “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame” are heist movies, a fun genre to explore in a superhero film, even if “Ant-Man” did it first. A successful time heist indeed.
Expect the Unexpected
One thing I’ve picked up from the whole MCU is to expect the unexpected. This series of films have a way of making you think you know what’s going to happen, and then throwing a curveball into it.
Even more impressive is that after the fact, it feels like these aren’t twists thrown in for shock value, but itself part of the plan. And for the most part, that’s exactly the case.
Think back to 2008’s “Iron Man.” Who thought that movie was going to be good? Who knew who Iron Man was around that time? Yet it stands as a solid superhero film that was overshadowed by “The Dark Knight,” which came out that same summer.
Even the ending to that film, where Tony states to a room full of press members, “I am Iron Man.” Usually, we had to wait until the 2nd or 3rd movie for the hero’s identity to be revealed to the world.
There are little revelations like that throughout the MCU. S.H.I.E.L.D. was secretly infiltrated by Hydra, Spider-Man showed up in “Captain America: Civil War” back when no one thought we’d ever see him return to Marvel.
We saw a team of nobodies become one of the most entertaining ensembles in all of superhero cinema: The Guardians of the Galaxy.
So it makes sense that Thanos is killed about 20 minutes into “Endgame.” It makes sense that right after that we get a time jump five years into the future. Then we get Smart Hulk and Fat Thor (more on them later). Cap wielded Mjolnir in the film’s climax. Incredible!
This film played with the year’s worth of anticipation and theories fans threw out there and still managed to surprise me. This film was anything but predictable and kept me hooked throughout its three-hour runtime.
Smart Hulk and Fat Thor
So as I mentioned, following the five-year time jump, Bruce Banner managed to reconcile his intelligence with the brutality of the Hulk and stays in Hulk form for the rest of the movie.
The introduction of Smart Hulk is done well, showing him in a diner with a ridiculously huge pan full of eggs. As my colleague Sam Claude put it, “He became Shrek.”
So it seems that a storyline that has been in place since “Thor: Ragnarok” was completed, as Bruce was finally able to control the Hulk and use it as a strength instead of a weakness.
It feels like the natural conclusion for the character and serves a purpose as he has the mental and physical strength to wield the Infinity Gauntlet, and even that destroys his arm.
However, I know a lot of people that are mad about this change. Hulk was mostly comic relief throughout the whole film, and we didn’t really get any scenes of him fighting with his newfound balance, which would’ve been cool.
An especially big disappointment was not getting to see him fight Thanos in a rematch from “Infinity War.” It would’ve been fun to see Hulk getting revenge.
On the flip side of this coin, we get Fat Thor. Following the loss of his entire family, the majority of his fellow Asgardians, and his failure to stop Thanos from snapping half the world from existence, the God of Thunder is understandably upset.
He broods for a bit and chops a basically defenseless Thanos’ head off on his farm. It’s an act of pure rage and spite, and it doesn’t make him feel any better.
So he establishes “New Asgard,” a place for the remaining Asgardians to live on Earth, spending his days drinking and playing “Fortnite” with Korg (which I guess means that “Fortnite” will still be a thing five years into the future).
Thor’s new thick visage is really funny, and every time the camera lingered on him, it would get a laugh out of me. I especially enjoyed that it wasn’t just a short visual gag, and lasted throughout the film.
It’s extra funny to me because so many people I know fawn over Chris Hemsworth, and rightfully so. They didn’t know how to act when they got their first glimpse of Thor’s beer belly.
However, similar to the Smart Hulk situation, I can understand why this may frustrate some people. While he still gets to kick some ass in the end, Thor turns into a joke for most of “Endgame.”
It’s a bit jarring since “Thor: Ragnarok” established that Thor’s powers came from within, and felt like a good conclusion to his character. At the same time, if your family and royal subjects all died in a five-year span, I’d drink myself to death too.
Yet out of all of the original Avengers, it seems that Thor is the only one that still has a story to tell in future films. Clint has his family back, Tony, Black Widow and Cap are essentially dead and Hulk is at peace with his Jekyll and Hyde situation.
Thor is still fat and trying to find his place in the world and I can very much relate. Ultimately, Thor’s arc in “Endgame” makes sense and extends his journey into the next phase of the MCU.
From a pure film critic standpoint, I’m not gonna act like “Avengers: Endgame” is a perfect movie.
There are problems, such as the time traveling being confusing, the film feeling a bit bloated at times, things being lingered on for too long and the final battle being pretty cluttered and at times, hard to follow (plus some characters just don’t get anything to do during it).
But that is not the appeal of this movie. I wanted to see huge battles, characters I know and love interacting with each other, funny lines and what I like to call “F*** yeah moments.”
And this movie delivers that in spades. I don’t think I’ve ever had a more cathartic feeling watching a film than when everyone who was snapped returns to stand against Thanos’ army in the final battle.
This film is filled with so many memorable moments that I haven’t even covered half the stuff that happens in it.
There is a fan-pleasing moment for everyone here. Do you like Iron Man? You get a glimpse of what kind of father he is and he gets the killing blow on Thanos. Thor and Hulk have some of the funniest scenes in the film. Cap gets to wield Mjolnir and kick a bunch of ass, including his own.
If you’ve been a loyal MCU fan, you will be rewarded with a cavalcade of memorable moments, which make this film required viewing.
A Sense of Closure
But most important is that “Avengers: Endgame” really felt like the culmination of 11 years of storytelling. Many of the OG Avengers were given the most screentime, and I don’t think we’ll be seeing many of them again.
Aside from the ones that died, Rhodey, Hulk, Hawkeye, Pepper Pots, Scarlet Witch and Captain America got closure to their stories. Everyone got revenge for the loss of their loved ones and can move on with their lives.
Cap especially got a beautiful send-off. It was so right to have him live out the rest of his days with Peggy Carter; he definitely earned it.
Tony Stark also got a poetic ending. He spent much of his time serving his own interests and causing as many problems as he solved. He was the only one that knew Thanos was coming, and still failed miserably to stop him in “Infinity War.”
He moved on, and finally married Pepper and had a daughter. Tony was a great father, and walked away from this life to right his wrong and save the billions of people dusted by Thanos.
It was a fantastic, albeit heartbreaking moment when he realized what he had to do, and hit the second snap heard round the world, killing Thanos and his army and saving the lives of the people he had originally failed.
Yet the power of the gauntlet took his life, and I may have shed many a manly tear at that moment.
The capper though was his last words. They were familiar, and were the words that started the crazy ride that is the MCU: “I am Iron Man.”
Perhaps the most selfish hero in the MCU performed one of the most selfless acts in the MCU to save everyone. It doesn’t get better than that and the scene was executed flawlessly.
It especially helps that Robert Downey Jr.’s performance as Tony was fantastic. He has consistently been the best actor throughout the MCU, and it makes sense that he brought his A-game for his swan song.
Ultimately, Black Widow’s end was the only one that felt underwhelming to me. She had spent her whole time in the MCU in the background, usually as a supporting character in other characters’ movies. She played her role well, but finally got a huge spotlight in “Endgame.”
After the world was shaken to the core, Black Widow was one of the only people who stepped up in the immediate aftermath and commanded the remaining heroes to rebuild the world.
And she did a damn fine job of it too. Scarlett Johansson shined here as her acting was superb (this is one of the few films she’s been in where I can say that with confidence, especially since she actually got a meaty role to work with).
But she killed herself to get the Soul Stone for the team because Hawkeye had a family (also, what a jerk move from Nebula; she didn’t even warn Hawkeye or Widow of the perils of getting the Soul Stone).
Her sacrifice felt hollow, as the only people who really dwelled on it for the rest of the movie were Hawkeye and Hulk.
It was an unsatisfying end for a character who was just finding her stride in this film, but I think that may have been the point.
Overall though, all of the original Avengers got closure to their stories in nice fashion. While the status quo was restored by the end of the film, it didn’t come without consequences and kept the resolution from seeming like a cop-out.
Another great touch was the lack of a mid or post-credits scene. This is the first MCU film without one, which highlights the finality of it all.
All in all, “Avengers: Endgame” is exceptional. The fact that 22 films that were written, directed and helmed by a different cast and crew each time have such tight continuity and end so definitively is enough to praise this movie for.
But everything is executed very well, with only a few small gripes that pale in comparison to what we get.
There was an epic battle, fan service out the wazoo, plenty of funny moments, a satisfying conclusion to many character arcs, a compelling (albeit confusing at times) time travel plot and so many crowd-pleasing moments that offset any minor complaints I can think of.
If you even remotely enjoy these movies, you owe it to yourself to watch this one. There will be plenty of things for you to enjoy, and there’s a lot to look forward to in the near future as well.
Let’s not forget, we won’t get much time to breathe, because “Spider-Man: Far From Home” comes out in two short months.