Well it’s finally here. The culmination of 22 movies over 10 years. I saw Avengers Endgame in a packed Dolby theater this afternoon (I always get Dolby now if possible, because of the assigned seating). Gotta say I loved it, and although it’s in the top five, it’s not the best MCU film out there. (My full list can be found here.)
The direct sequel to last year’s Avengers Infinity War, Endgame picks up not long after the Avengers lost the battle against Thanos (that’s not a spoiler, except maybe for Infinity War, and hey, that was a year ago). Everybody’s mopey, civilization itself is teetering, and the remaining heroes seem to be putting out fires just to keep themselves busy.
This is going to be a spoiler-free review, so I’ll be suitably vague.
The film is chockablock with call-backs to earlier films, wonderful fan-service moments that I kept annoying my son with by saying “that’s right out of the comics!” and extremely satisfying story arcs that have been building up over the course of the entire series up until now. This feels like a film specifically designed to be the capstone for everything that has come before it, and it works excellently in that regard.
That said, being that its function is to wrap up character arcs and themes that have been carried over the course of a decade, and that it is consciously a vehicle for a level of spectacle literally never before seen, I don’t think it works quite as well on its own as some of the other films, including Infinity War.
That’s not to say it’s not excellent (it’s still in my top five), but because it was so large, and so spectacular, and had to do so much with so many characters, it sort of loses itself in its larger mission and juuust misses the mark in some places. One of the big battles, for instance, is naturally bigger in scale and scope than we’ve seen before, but it doesn’t have the same resonance as the airport battle in Captain America Civil War, precisely because it is so large and needs to do so much. There simply is too much going on to give us the same character beats as we saw between Falcon and the Winter Soldier (“I hate you…”). It’s still great, and it still works, but in comparison it’s just a little too big to give me the small moments that the MCU is so good at.
Again, don’t take that as a negative, except in comparison with what’s come before in the MCU, and that’s a comparison that would be completely unfair to any other film (the DCEU included) because of just how good the MCU has been.
There were definitely parts of this film that tug on the ol’ heartstrings, and more than one person was literally crying at times. The character call-backs are perfectly done, and it even manages to expand and improve some of the earlier films in unexpected ways. Characters that were second-stringers before come to the fore, and long-timers get denouements to their arcs that are satisfying in the extreme.
There are no helpings of shawarma in this film, but the credits do have some nice homages to the principle MCU players, and if you stay to the very, very end there’s… something. I’m still not sure what it means, but it’s… there.
All in all, this is an unbelievable movie, and well worth the hype. I stand in awe that Marvel/Disney could pull this off, and despite my belief that it’s not the best MCU film ever, it’s still one of the best, and well worth seeing for even a casual fan.