REVIEW — “Avengers: Endgame”
The culmination of Marvel Studios’ 11-year, 22-movie saga launched with 2008’s Iron Man, Avengers: Endgame delivers the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s most compelling and satisfying entry yet — and could stand the test of time as the best-ever comic book-inspired movie.
Endgame assembles what’s left of Earth’s mightiest heroes after the devastating events of the preceding Avengers: Infinity War, where the Mad Titan Thanos (Josh Brolin) halved all life in the universe using the combined might of the six Infinity Stones.
Among the trillions of lives helplessly turned to ash were freshly knighted Avenger Spider-Man (Tom Holland), ruling Wakandan king T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), and almost all of the Guardians of the Galaxy, save for Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) and Nebula (Karen Gillan), Thanos’ adopted and unwanted daughter.
All is lost until size-shifting superhero Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) escapes the “microscopic universe” known as the Quantum Realm, giving still-grieving heroes Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and their scattered team — including Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hawkeye-slash-Ronin (Jeremy Renner), War Machine (Don Cheadle), and heavy-hitter Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) — their first glimpse of desperate hope since suffering their crippling defeat.
Again under the command of Captain America, who teams with an initially reluctant Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), the surviving heroes must do whatever it takes to avenge the fallen, convening once more as part of a last-ditch effort with a heist tinge to resurrect “The Vanished.”
Where crossover event blockbuster Infinity War borrowed from ‘90s crime films Two Days in the Valley and Out of Sight, returning directors Anthony and Joe Russo and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely appear to have found inspiration from a genre-specific film released in 1989. But to identify it by name would be a spoiler, cluing unsuspecting moviegoers into Endgame’s true plot, which has yet to be so much as glimpsed in any of its tight-lipped marketing materials.
Endgame runs the gamut of emotions and is so surprise-heavy its anti-spoiler campaign, #DontSpoilTheEndgame, is a true attempt to preserve its biggest secrets, including shocking developments on par with shakeups not seen since Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and The Sixth Sense.
What can be disclosed is the fact Endgame is the most dramatically front loaded of the already rich Marvel canon, delivering a true finale to the Infinity Saga with consequences that will reverberate across multiple franchises throughout the continuing Marvel Cinematic Universe, which ends its third phase with July’s Spider-Man: Far From Home.
Across its three-hour runtime — the longest in the MCU — the Russo-directed Endgame deftly wraps up lingering plot and character threads first put into motion a decade ago, delivering not only a satisfying, summer-launching blockbuster, but a gratifying end to Marvel Studios’ unprecedented overarching story line spanning nearly two dozen films.
And with it comes the biggest reward for fans’ 11-year devotion to the franchise: an instantly iconic climax so breathtaking, so hard-to-believe, it stands as the purest of love letters to the fans and such Marvel visionaries as Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and Stan Lee, who — along with the dedicated efforts of Marvel Studios chief and franchise architect Kevin Feige — have made the MCU a one-of-its-kind marvel the likes of which will never be seen again.
A living comic book splash page, the conclusion of the epic Endgame — itself alone worth the price of repeat IMAX admissions — isn’t just Marvel’s best, or the best of the superhero genre: it’s once in a lifetime, conquering anything seen in even Star Wars or Lord of the Rings, and any spectacle dreamed up by James Cameron or Peter Jackson. The reigning generation-defining blockbuster is here with Avengers: Endgame.
★★★★★ / ★★★★★
Avengers: Endgame opens Thursday.