Avengers: Endgame is a Love Song to the Blockbuster


Disney and Marvel Studios, via CNN

The poster for Endgame.

Don’t worry! No specific spoilers! But be sure to watch the movie before you read this review anyway. 

Ten years and 22 movies ago, Marvel set a course that would alter the course of movie history forever with a single movie: Iron Man. It’s fitting that Tony Stark finds his way into the spotlight for this Galactus of a film, just over three hours long–with none of it wasted.

Let’s start with the story.

While it lacks depth and detail at times, the story does know exactly how to build and explore the depths of their characters. Multiple characters feel deep, and there are many character-driven tear-jerkers throughout the film, with many involving franchise mainstays such as Hawkeye, Iron Man, and even Ant-Man at times. In fact, some of the more painful moments have to do with the issue of family more than loss.

Disney and Marvel Studios, via The Verge
The gang’s back together!…sort of.

Thanos is now a proper villain, with more drive than ever before. His only issue is that he’s not the only one willing to do “whatever it takes” to make sure that he succeeds. This creates the needed type of drama and rising action that many Marvel movies don’t have. Some have decried some more recent Marvel movies for not doing much for the story as opposed to the action. I would go out on a limb and say that Endgame is two and a half hours of character study and thirty minutes action movie. There is even a Stan Lee cameo, sure to get a reaction out of audiences following his passing. Yes, there is action, and yes, it takes up a lot of the plot. But Marvel and Disney chose to make Endgame a reflection of the characters and who they are. It works perfectly. There was not a dry eye in the theater by the time I left. Multiple people cried multiple times. Endgame is not a superhero movie–it is a movie about superheroes.

The story, of course, picks up immediately following the events of Infinity War, now with Carol Danvers in the fray. We don’t see too much from her in this movie, leading me to believe that Endgame was written before much of Captain Marvel and Disney tried to shoehorn her into the movie with a more important role. That isn’t too much of an issue, however: the movie is called Avengers: Endgame, and it spends most of its’ run time focusing on the Avengers…well, avenging. And it’s heartwarming and heartwrenching at the same time for people who have watched these movies since they came out.

The pace is quick and never feels slow, despite being three hours long. The story is easy enough to handle, despite some (mild spoilers) odd jumping back and forth at times. We get an in-depth look at the psyche of the remaining heroes and their struggles to finish what they started, even with a “new” Thanos to battle.

I was probably most impressed by the way the film handled Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man. Scott Lang is supposed to be played as a loser, and Rudd is a comedic genius with the way he portrays his characters. Yet a section of the film focuses solely on him, and it tears at the heartstrings. Never would I have imagined an emotional role to go to Paul Rudd, and yet, he portrays one of the most compelling characters in the entire film.

Chris Evans’ Captain America is another character that was played excellently, balancing duty with what needed to be done, and even breaking a few of his own rules along the way (spoiler: Cap curses a lot in the film, a near Hydra-level opposite for the character normally). While he’s normally led the charge, it doesn’t feel that way from an audience standpoint. A few sections of the film take the time to remind us who Captain America is–not just the shield and weird helmet thing, but the man taken from his own time to fight a fight that was never his but he made it his anyway. There are multiple sections of the film where Cap really feels like Captain America.

Disney and Marvel via Looper
Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark has one of the strongest performances of the movie.

Tony Stark also faces many character troubles, most of which tread spoiler territory. What can be written is this: Robert Downey Jr. provides his best performance yet of Iron Man, mixing the will-he-won’t-he sense of duty with the callous-turned-serious businessman side and turning him into a character everyone wants to hug by the end of the film. This movie really does a lot to prove that Tony Stark does, indeed, have a heart. The most heartbreaking arc in the film centers around Black Widow and Hawkeye. The two have been friends throughout most of the film franchise, and the first three minutes of the film are devoted to what Clint was up to during The Snap. What follows from there is one of the most touching stories about a family man willing to do anything to save the ones he loves and a broken woman doing all she can to fix an equally broken world. I’ve criticized Scarlett Johansson’s performances as Black Widow in the past, but she really comes out in a film that made me feel for a while after watching was hers.

The visuals and music are equally impressive. No scene feels too loud or too soft, and some of the shots deserve to be preserved in museums as art. Directors the Russo brothers deserve to be credited for shot selection, although one specific scene near the end of the movie feels like it was snagged right out of a Netflix original series, and that’s not a compliment. Certain characters are also written in ways that feel out-of-character. Marvel critics will be very loud for a while following the depictions of several characters.

In the end, Avengers: Endgame is a very fitting end to a decade of Marvel movies that feels more like a goodbye than a “we’ll meet again.” The last few minutes of the moment embrace the viewer, calming them down after the nearly two and a half hours straight of emotional turmoil and ending the series in a way that feels like it always should have. It’s not a handshake, nor is it a blunt exit. Disney and Marvel take the time to let the audience know that a particular chunk of the series is done, and it feels done. We’re sad to see it go by the end of the film, even if we didn’t care too much for the mega-corporation, non-creative and non-original movies that Disney had pumped out for the last decade. If I had to give it a grade, it would be 8.5/10.

We all will be telling each other specific quotes for months after the movie leaves box offices. It’s already made it’s mark there, and already in our hearts.