It is incredibly difficult to sit down and write this review. Going into the cinema, I had legitimate butterflies-in-my-tummy levels of nervousness. It’s hard to overstate just how important Avengers: Endgame feels. The culmination of eleven years’ worth of super-hero cinema, about to be tied up in one neat three-hour package. The (pop) cultural significance of an event like Endgame is enormous, the hype even more so.
It’s also exceedingly difficult to contemplate how to write anything about this film without giving the slightest hint away! Nevertheless, we will not give away any spoilers, this review is 100% safe to read in that regard.
While, out of necessity, some things will be kept vague, there is still the assumption for this review that you have seen the previous decade-plus worth of films from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or, have at least read the Wikipedia plot summaries. Be warned, there are very obvious Infinity War spoilers in the next few paragraphs.
Endgame begins at the lowest point that we have seen our heroes. As we know from the end of Infinity War, the Avengers lost. They didn’t stop Thanos in time, the snap happened, wiping out half of all life in the universe, not to mention the lives lost before the snap. As such, going into the Endgame – as the dusted Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) called it – the mood is sombre and dark. Even with the arrival of Captain Marvel aka Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), the Avengers are an understandably broken and barely functioning group of heroes.
For the first act of the film, co-directors Joe and Anthony Russo keep the build-up measured. Coping and regrouping in various ways, the surviving members of the Avengers – Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and War Machine (Don Cheadle), alongside newcomers Nebula (Karen Gillian), Rocket Racoon (Bradley Cooper), Okoye (Danai Gurira) and Danvers – pick up the pieces of their shattered worlds. How will they rebuild, if they even can?
Through various movies, both recent and old, we’ve come to know (and love) these characters. Of the two “parts” to this epic finale, Infinity War was more conventional in terms of punchy superhero movies, even though the ending was something that left a lot of jaws on the floor. For Endgame, especially starting in a darker place, there is a lot more room for emotional investment and character reflection, especially from Black Widow. The surviving members are in a situation they can’t punch their way out of, which gives us as the audience more insight and emotional impact.
This does also mean that the start of the film, about the first third, is significantly slower paced than what we may be used to. This is by no means a bad thing, the film is three hours long after all, and a constant action pace would be completely unsustainable. Endgame balances the pacing nicely, making those three hours go by almost too quickly as it does heavy lifting in terms of character work.
This is not your normal, boisterous, smart-mouthed Marvel movie. We have seen deeper meanings in these movies previously, but Endgame is where they really tell a resonant story. There are strong, persistent themes of guilt, redemption, and family – in the truest sense of the word. Even when things like survivor’s guilt and unhealthy coping mechanisms are played up for laughs, you can see the wells of sadness behind the eyes of the survivors.
But it’s not all about the emotions – though I guarantee you will be put through the wringer. Even with the slow build-up, when the stellar fight choreography (and banter) start to ramp up, you do get the feeling that this is no-holds-barred Marvel at its zenith. When the inevitable climax of the Endgame arrives, the payoff is, without a doubt, completely worth it.
In the epic battle to end all battles, everything from the last decade ties together in a spectacularly massive way. But let’s be honest, you wouldn’t expect anything less, and you won’t be disappointed. You’ll also probably be surprised at the multitude of familiar faces that show up for this event. There are many nods to the past MCU entries, which I’m sure Kervyn will cover for you in his spoiler-filled (and probably 2000 word long) deep dive in a few days.
What you might want to know is, was Endgame worth all the hype? Yes, definitely yes… but not necessarily in the way you might think. Satisfying both in terms of heavy emotional payoff and thrilling super-heroic antics, Endgame still has surprises in store. At the end, after the credits rolled and I took a little while to collect myself and my brittle emotions, walking out of the cinema was an effort. As pretentious as this may sound, I feel like a heavy book had just been closed. It’s the end of an era, and I can’t think of a more fitting conclusion.
PS: There’s no post-credits scene for Avengers: Endgame so you can get home quicker to have a good cry if you want, but there is a cool Easter egg.
This review was co-authored by Noelle Adams and Tracy Benson
Last Updated: April 24, 2019