The end of an era, Endgame wraps up the Infinity Saga in epic style, with massive fandom service, emotional gravitas, a darker Thanos, psychological war-aftermath reflection, & one of the biggest and wildest final acts in blockbuster history. 8.5/10.
Plot Synopsis: Infinity War over and adrift in space with no food or water, Tony Stark sends a message to Pepper Potts as his oxygen supply starts to dwindle. Meanwhile, the remaining Avengers — Thor, Captain America, Black Widow, and Hulk — must figure out a way to bring back their vanquished allies for an epic showdown with Thanos — the evil demigod who decimated the universe.
*Possible spoilers ahead*
10 Years, 21 Movies, 32 Heroes
10 years, 21 movies, 32 heroes. The MCU as we know it just came to an end, and did so almost as epically as one could have imagined. After the soul-wrenching events and cliffhanger that shocked the world at the end of Infinity War, audiences were emotionally-charged to drive out theaters & learn what happened to their favorite heroes like Black Panther & Spider-Man (plus half of the world’s population) meeting a dust-filled ending of apocalyptic macabre. Wrapping up the Infinity Saga with massive fandom service, emotional gravitas, psychological war aftermath reflection, and one of the wildest final acts in blockbuster history, Avengers: Endgame is one of, if not THE definitive/best Marvel film – a superlative that’s finally warranted for this once-in-a-generation event only mountains of money can buy.
Act I – A Post-Infinity War Landscape
Act I – The Post-Infinity War Landscape. The film opens into a desolate landscape post-Infinity War where our heroes are still coming to terms with the magnitude of their failure. Despite glimpses of levity-full psychological war-aftermath reflection on topics like survivor’s guilt and PTSD, I’ll admit: I was mildly disappointed with the first act. Overly comedic and light-defused in tone with silly MCU-humor and gags, it’s a bit discordant with the tragic events that just happened on a planetary scale to trillions of life forms. It was also a bit anticlimactic having them find and confront a (weak-looking) Thanos so easily/early, with Brie Larson making classically-arrogant claims like ‘We’ll beat him now obviously; you have me!’. However, these flaws are mostly sequestered in the first act (despite a weird intellectual Hulk and fat Thor I’ll discuss later), and are ~easily forgiven in light of the blockbuster magic that follows.
Time Travel & The Russo Brothers
Time Travel & The Russo Brothers. Everything after the first act is masterful, dazzling fandom service on such an incomprehensible scale, it will leave any Marvel or superhero fan speechless. The middle act’s time travel plotting makes for some incredible scenarios visiting past MCU films and running old storylines with new ones simultaneously – having heroes interacting with (or even fighting!) their past selves, alter the timeline, plant bugs, etc. This was the magic of DC’s Flashpoint comic arc, and although the film borrows its idea heavily, it executes it impressively – getting the allure of temporal action flicks/thrillers like Back To The Future & Terminator with fine popcorn-worthy blockbuster imaginative flair here. There are sweet sequences of sentiment in prelude to what’s going to happen in the final act for certain Avengers, but also heart-pounding action as well. Thrillingly-paced are the signature smooth, fluid action sequences The Russo Brothers are known for and exhibited since their stellar MCU debut in The Winter Soldier, as well as capable direction and intricate handling of such a monstrous scale of a story arc (definitely needed the 3 hours and I’m glad they didn’t compromise length-wise) – crossing decades & even centuries to collect the Infinity Stones and defeat Thanos before he even knows what’s happened.
Mini-Teams With Separate Arcs
Mini-Teams with Separate Arcs. The Avengers once again find solace in splitting up the group into mini-teams with their own separate arcs, leading to some hilarious and intriguing character combinations different from Infinity War’s. Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye (now Ronin), and the rest of the original 6 (plus a few others) are sent off into differing teams and time periods to retrieve each of the stones, making for some incredible entertainment value that’s nostalgia-reinvented and is alone worth the price of admission for anyone who’s seen the movies. This might be the ultimate fan service film – with a veritable library of Easter Eggs and cameos from dozens of past MCU flicks that will leave any diehard smiling and (while also a huge achievement by the market department to keep all this under wraps) demonstrates what we already learned in Infinity/Civil War: Anthony and Joe Russo are huge Marvel junkies who know and love the films/comics as much as the person reading this review. Amazing.
A Darker (Monarchical) Thanos
Thanos with darker tone. Thanos is also off scouring for the Stones while all this is happening, unbeknownst to him this plot to undo what future-him inflicted upon universal life. His pulling of the strings in things like sending in rogues and strategically planting snippets to upset the Avengers’ plans once learned of makes for a much better Thanos that’s more magisterial and dictatorial than the commando rogue we saw in Infinity War. Much akin to what Darkseid – DC’s original titan/god that came out first and, yes, Thanos was cloned from – is like, the real power of a god/titan is in the resources & power at your disposal being able to fling them at your will – a point that was well-understood by the Russo’s this time around. Thanos also has a bite and more sinister tone here, being clearly pissed off The Avengers are wrecking his plans knowing he already won and completed his marching order in a future timeline they’re trying to erase from happening – leading to him rethinking his plan sadistically promising to kill not only half, but ALL lifeforms this time around to start over the universe under his dictatorial rule. He also looks far more intimidating and strength-exuding with all his armor on (one of our biggest complaints from IW impossible to take seriously, resolved) while still maintaining his strong hand-to-hand combatant ability and added level of power being able to spawn epic war sequences like in that final act culminating the MCU entirely into a zenith.
The Final Act
The Final Act. I cannot even find the words to describe how *insane* the final act of Endgame is – one of the most wowing final acts in blockbuster history. Like the Wakanda war on acid, this massive-scale battle starting with the three most iconic OG Avengers: Iron Man, Captain America, & Thor v. Thanos evolves into an incalculable landscape so massive in scale, the camera has to be zoomed-out almost a mile to even fit it all! Boasting nearly every Marvel character you could possibly imagine on screen at one time in a franchise-defining all-out fight to the death against the puppeteer mastermind behind the franchise’s entire continuity up to this point – the final act is perhaps the most striking example of fan service I’ve ever seen.
The Comics Lore & Perhaps Most Striking, Comprehensive Fan Service Sequence In CBM’s
The comic lore breathed to life for the first time ever on screen – like a certain surprise Avenger wielding Mjolnir and multiple airborne character combinations in a continental game of pass-the-baton to get the Infinity Gauntlet away from Thanos – will leave any superhero (or action/MOVIE) fan’s jaw firmly on the floor seeing such a scale of epicness, top-notch CGI, and technical wizardry only mountains of money can buy – paving the way to that heartbreaking finale. A masterful collection of conclusive sequences laced with emotional gravitas, the sacrifices of some (kept nameless) Avengers is downright soul-stirring, emotionally-rich, and the send-off these characters we’ve grown to know over the course of a decade, deserved. The Russo’s demand extreme praise for what they’ve done here – it’s no secret I’m not the biggest fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe sometimes McDonald’s-like pumping formula and a whole lot of cheese – but they thought out their plan, dotted every i, crossed every t, and executed an incalculably massive, epic-scale, ambitious finale I don’t think it’s possible to not be stunned by, from critics to average moviegoers.
Hulk & Thor, What Have They Done To You?! (+ Plot Holes, White Suits, & Early Tone)
Flaws in Avengers: Endgame include its opening, time-travel, plot holes, & Fat Thor/Hulk. The film opens into a (bizarre) anticlimactic confrontation and humorous first act cheating out on its trailers’ promise of grim tones (aptly) following the death of half the freaking world’s population. The score’s admittedly generic – hey, the MCU’s not exactly known for pushing the boundaries of art cinematically; popcorn blockbuster entertainment but a little innovation would be nice. The time-travel plotline is extremely messy and clichéd leaving a slew of continuity plot holes while being done many times before, matching white suits laughable, no post-credits scene (REALLY wanted an X-Men or Eternals tease..), and meek number of casualties when it was promised that half (or at least far more) far more heroes should’ve met their ends than single-digits. And finally, don’t get me started on its handling of Thor and Hulk: Fat Thor and Dabbing Hulk are abominations that are *sacrilegious* to any comics fan – and needed to be fixed for that epic final showdown to prevent eye-sores on a masterpiece sequence.
The End Of An Era & Perhaps The Definitive Marvel Blockbuster Experience
All in all, while there are objective flaws and tons of nits to pick from its ~anticlimactic humorous opening to Thor/Hulk handling to generic score to somewhat-meek number of casualties to messy time-travel continuity plot, you barely care when walking out of that theater. It is unequivocally one of the most epic blockbusters I’ve ever witnessed – as well as perhaps the ultimate fandom service delivering (in $350M visuals) diehards ~everything they could’ve possibly wanted – and didn’t even know they wanted but were given anyway – in a Marvel film. The end of an era closing of a decade-long 21-film chapter, Avengers: Endgame wraps up the Infinity Saga in epic style – with massive fandom service, emotional gravitas, a darker Thanos, psychological war-aftermath reflection, and one of the wildest final acts ever realized to scale in mass entertainment for a once-in-a-generation blockbuster event. It will be damn hard to wait to see what they have in store for the next phase/focus of the MCU.. if they can ever top this.
Official CLC Score: 8.5/10