Review: Avengers: Endgame
The following is a non-spoiler review of Avengers: Endgame.
What happens when half of all human life in the universe disappears? What are the survivors forced to do with that monumental grief? More specifically, what do the Avengers do now, having failed to stop extraordinary catastrophic loss?
Writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely and directors Joe and Anthony Russo begin the 22nd film in the 11-years-old-and-still-rolling Marvel Cinematic Universe mid-Thanos Snap with one beloved character experiencing that loss first-hand. In the final moments of Avengers: Infinity War we were witness to dozens of our beloved superheroes turning to dust on a grand scale, across an entire galaxy. The opening scene of Avengers: Endgame feels frighteningly intimate and sets the tone for the rest of the film.
Clocking in at 181 minutes, Endgame surprisingly takes its time with our heroes, post-tragedy. While Infinity War darted quickly from planet to planet, character to character, rushing to get to its rousing multi-world climax, Endgame is in no such rush, staying on close-ups and quieter moments. Lest we forget, the cast of these Avengers movies are filled with top-tier talent, and they get their own moments to prove they’re not just there to pick up a paycheck in front of a green screen.
Endgame is about family. Remember that fathers and father figures play a major role in past MCU films; here, that theme is expanded as the Avengers deal with the loss of their own — their friends they call family. Black Widow is especially struck by this, as she has no real family and had developed a familial bond with her superhero teammates. Having lost half of them, she’s trying to make sense of it all. Scarlett Johansson is a highlight, building on her limited character development from past films and helping drive home the story arc her spy hero is given in Endgame. Helping, too, is the return of a now sword-wielding Hawkeye, with Jeremy Renner’s worn-and-torn face appropriately feeling the weight of the world post-Snap.
Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang is even given time to grieve, having escaped the quantum realm he had been stuck in since the end of Ant-Man and the Wasp only to find the world half gone and in ruins. Having lost a loved one, he develops a plan to get everyone back. Only thing is, he needs the Avengers.
Some time has passed since the Snap and each Avenger has dealt with the loss differently. Steve Rogers is doing the best he can, going to support groups and learning to accept it. Chris Evans, as always, plays Rogers with a steely temperament, with a raw intensity ready to be unleashed whenever necessary. Meanwhile, Bruce Banner has dealt with the Snap in his own unique way in honestly one of the best developments for Mark Ruffalo’s turn as the Hulk. Thor has possibly taken it the worst, having yet to reconcile that he really should have went for the head; Chris Hemsworth is in full Thor: Ragnarok mode here, making the character more his own as the goofy, headstrong, yet emotionally-vulnerable God of Thunder.
Robert Downey Jr. may give the performance of the film, though, as we find Stark floating through space trying to make his way to Earth from Titan. He’s seemingly broken, still heartbroken that he failed to stop Thanos and, specifically, for losing Peter Parker, who he treated like a son. It’s with Stark that you start to see the smart confluence of the past MCU movies start imerge in Endgame. He mentions how he wanted to protect the world with Ultron in Age of Ultron and how his split with Captain America in Civil War all lead to this. In spliting the team, Stark believes they’ve failed and that that failure is irreversible. It’s with the weight of past films that helps in understanding just how our heroes are feeling, but that sense of loss is all too familiar and relatable.
Only in coming together can our heroes save the day. It’s a simple notion that Endgame builds on, sure, but seeing it in action, and seeing just how the story twists and turns with one hell of a finish, it certainly is a sight to behold. Not only is it an amazing achievement for an entertaining and gripping three-hour blockbuster, Endgame also serves as a fitting conclusion to several of our beloved heroes’ stories. The story within is so sprawling and at times can be too convoluted for its own good, but, oh boy, does it ever come together and stick that landing. You’ll end up getting everything you want in a massive franchise crossover event, and on top of that, you’ll end up getting some of the best character moments and performances from some of the best actors working today. Endgame is an achievement, and, as a whole, the 22-film franchise, up to this point, might stand the test of time as some of the best pop culture storytelling ever made.