Avengers: Endgame Movie Review
Poor Thanos. He finally is off to retire after completing his masterwork and those pesky Avengers just won’t get over the fact that trillions of people/aliens were wiped from existence with the snap of fingers.
After Avengers: Infinity War concluded with many of Marvel’s superheroes literally turning to dust and Thanos walking away victorious, directors Anthony and Joe Russo return with Avengers: Endgame, the impressive conclusion to an 11-year, 20-movie journey that transformed blockbusters and established a shockingly reliable brand and experience that may never be repeated again.
To judge Endgame, you can look at it one of two ways: as a standalone film, one of many Marvel movies with more to come, or as a bookend that completes the arcs of many characters we’ve seen on screen for over a decade.
As its own movie, Endgame is good, a film that largely matches the consistency of its predecessors while, like its predecessors, remains somewhat predictable in regard to its ultimate outcome (less predictable is which superheroes will die and presumably stay dead).
But as a part of something larger, as a conclusion on par to, say, the Harry Potter series, it’s hard to question the success of Avengers: Endgame. The Russo brothers somehow manage to interweave the stories of dozens of characters, bringing them together in largely organic ways that reinforces just how far in advance this movie must have been mapped out to make everything click just right. At the same time, they make the wise decision to focus on the main players, the original team who have mostly been together since the start (Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, The Hulk, and Hawkeye, with Ant-Man thrown in there as well), patiently (occasionally too patiently) preparing us for the end of their journeys, whatever that may mean.
The result is a surprisingly emotional climax to this stretch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, one that delivers both in terms of touching moments and epic battles. More than a few times my hair stood on end and my head tingled, as the Russos (and behind the scenes, overlord Kevin Feige) deliberately and decisively place their chess pieces for the final showdown between the Avengers and Thanos.
At over three hours long, and no matter how well done it is, even Avengers: Endgame feels drawn out at times. The filmmakers clearly had free reign to make this movie as long as they wanted to tell the story necessary, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t stretches that could have been tightened or eliminated altogether. The Russos recall past moments we’ve witnessed before, which injects some bloat into the storytelling. Worse is a segment involving Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and a character from his past, which probably could have been cut entirely and no one would have cared.
The sheer amount of characters and things that have to happen also means the Russos are rarely able to hang around long enough to let things sink in. Many of the newer characters introduced in recent years are given short thrift, which is fine, but there are a few moments that could and should have been more powerful if time had allowed (I won’t get into specifics for the sake of avoiding spoilers).
Still, most of the film’s faults are minor quibbles. Avengers: Endgame is an epic conclusion to an impressive run of movies (“conclusion” is a strong word, as the Marvel Universe will continue indefinitely).
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.