‘You could not live with your own failure, and where did that bring you? Back to me.’ – Thanos
Back to Thanos and back to the end. 2018’s biggest movie of the year Avengers: Infinity War was billed as the climax to the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, the ending which the studio and the fans had been building to. In fact, that was merely the beginning of the end. Indeed, there were two more Marvel movies sandwiched between the Avengers of 2018 and 2019. However, now it could not have been signposted any clearer with the title of the fourth Avengers movie that this is the true culmination.
Reviewing Avengers: Endgame can be tricky business just as it was promoting it. Digitally altered trailers to throw keen viewers off of any plot clues, interviews by the cast in which practically no questions could be answered. In the spoiler filled world of instant news, keeping secrets is paramount. Especially when Infinity War left us on *that* cliffhanger.
We open with the Avengers divided, deflated and defeated. After 18 movies sprinkling the Infinity Stone macguffins over the cinematic universe Thanos managed to combine them all and SNAP half of all life out of existence, including many of the franchise’s major characters. With that sort of ending it was no wonder excitement for Endgame built to the fever pitch it did and, with the need to avoid spoilers, it made opening week of Endgame must-see. A record-breaking week which we may not see toppled for a long time.
Many American TV series clock in at around 22 episodes, so for the 22 movie series finale, it makes sense to once again have experienced TV directors the Russo brothers back to oversee things. The Russo brothers already gave the Marvel Cinematic Universe some of its best-received and most financially successful movies, but here they had a task bigger than balancing Infinity War’s huge cast of lead characters. They had to follow up that cliffhanger by also rounding off the entire series, giving some characters justified send offs and delivering the emotional, comedic and excitement we have come to expect.
The most satisfying aspect of Endgame is that it more than delivers on the gargantuan pressure on its shoulders, while also not playing it safe. Marvel has always had one eye on the future of its franchise, but there are knowing nods to the past. Familiar scenes, lines and moments are relived; some for laughs, some for sadness, but most of all to propel the plot forward. While the first act gives us a world condensed in grief and introspection, the second act in its heist tone gives a somewhat convoluted plot device to move things along. Just like the final act’s emotional and spectacle climax thefilmmakers plot devices had earned the benefit of any doubt from its audience because they of all of the good character work they had given us before this.
With less characters to reintroduce and weave together like in its predecessor, we are left to focus on the core characters that made the Marvel Cinematic Universe the biggest film franchise in the world. The beginnings, motivations and journeys had been played out, so now they give us what comes after. Sure, there will be more Captain Marvel, Black Panther and Spiderman movies, the future of the franchise, but the final deconstruction here is what comes after. What happens to the villain after he wins? What happens to the heroes after they lose? Indeed, as Tony Stark says himself, the whole point of the Avengers is not to act but to react. After the end of so much life in Infinity War, the questions of ‘what now’ has driven audience intrigue to see a comic book movie hit heights they never really have before. To a true ending to a true game-changing franchise.
The money was always going to come, but to meet the expectations and standards of audiences meant that the Infinity Saga was going to have to give a generation of moviegoers their Return of the Jedi or Return of the King. Seeing Iron Man’s final action or Captain America’s last stand, you felt not only that you were watching the end of a truly epic story, but another moment in film and pop culture history.
Just remember that part of the journey is the End. Avengers: Endgame is flawless.
Overall Rating: 10/10 – Perfect