MPAA Rating: PG-13/Genre: Superhero /Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Brie Larson, Karen Gillan, Danai Gurira, Bradley Cooper, Josh Brolin/ Runtime: 181 minutes
For the past 11 years at the time of this movie’s release, Marvel Studios had managed to build a franchise that was truly unlike anything the pop culture or film world has ever seen the likes of before. This is because besides the successful launching of a dynamic run of multiple series of films that each center on their own unique characters/ worlds while also possessing a unique aesthetic/design, they also maintained an immensely complex continuity that continues to grow and expand with each new story they offer up. Not only that, but the level of creative freedom is so great that every filmmaker who has the immense fortune to contribute to the MCU simply adds a new piece to the puzzle while simultaneously carving out something different and diverse that is enjoyable on its own merit.
Yet even with this kind of approach we still ultimately get what boils down to two kinds of MCU films. The first side is where you see films like Iron Man 3 or the Guardians of the Galaxy films within which an audience member will find that particular character/characters’ own corner of the expansive world and how a filmmaker such as James Gunn or Shane Black then uses that specific real estate for what amounts to relatively contained storytelling. Then on the other side of the coin we have films like Avengers: Age of Ultron or Captain America: Civil War aka Avengers 2.5. These are the movies which are designed with not only the entire scope of the franchise in mind, but also are able to utilize specific details and elements of the larger continuity in play to then create something both reflective, but refreshing and new at the same time.
But as tremendous and exceptional as the movies in the former category can be (and that’s pretty extreme….especially in the case of Thor: The Dark World), it’s the films in the latter, usually, that are what can wind up making this cinematic universe truly special. This is because while simply making a cogent and entertaining blockbuster is a ridiculous challenge all by itself, the art of simultaneously incorporating all of these massive and even minor details of multiple other massive films in the same series should prove to be practically impossible, and yet, against all odds, Marvel has proven itself to be successful every single time.
All of which brings us to Avengers: Endgame a film that, in numerous interviews, over the last four-and-a-half years has been described as the say-all, end-all movie event that would prove to be the ultimate capstone for the franchise while also existing as the story to which the previous 21 chapters in the now-coined Infinity Saga have been leading towards. Now to say that is an incredible amount of hype, and that it’s now considered one of the most anticipated releases in history is a gross understatement. Imagine my pure and unaltered happiness to find out then that not only is every ounce of the hype we have been exposed to completely accurate, but that Avengers: Endgame is truly one of the most ambitious, all-around entertaining, emotional to the 10th degree, and just stunning pure and simple blockbusters that I have ever seen in my entire life.
The plot is as follows: Endgame picks up following the shattering events of Avengers: Infinity War, and finds the surviving heroes of Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Bruce Banner, Black Widow, Hawkeye, War Machine, Rocket, Nebula, Ant-Man, and Captain Marvel all attempting to figure out how to move on with life following Thanos’ (Josh Brolin) successful attempt at collecting all six Infinity Stones and subsequently wiping out half of all life in existence (and if you didn’t know that by now….oops.). Indeed to say that the depression and devastation is real following their defeat is a gross understatement yet the titular team, in living up to their name, is not ready to give up just yet. Thus, by utilizing both their collective brawn and brains, they manage to concoct a brave, bold, and ballsy as all get out plan that they hope will not only lead to defeating the Mad Titan once and for all, but also in the process manage to right the horrific wrong that he has inflicted on the universe. (Dun dun dunnn!!!)
Now if it’s not obvious, the vagueness of that plot description is entirely intentional on my end of things, as not only do I not want all the Marvel fans out there to keep from coming at me with pitchforks and torches and burn me at the stake, but also because the surprises that unfold in Avengers: Endgame’s perfectly-paced three hour runtime can, and definitely should, only be properly appreciated when personally witnessed, and trust me when I say that it feels like there’s a new one that comes around just about every five minutes as you’re watching. Indeed whether it’s actors you never expected in a million years to show up, locations you never thought you’d see, or plot twists that come from the parking lot behind left field, Endgame is a movie that will not only keep you constantly guessing about what could possibly come next, but which openly, and brazenly succeeds in dropping your jaw with every swing that it takes, both with the new and the nostalgically familiar. This is also why you will not see me really say much about the performances other than this: every single performance in this movie is as it should be. Not only does this cast deliver some of if not the best work performance-wise in a Marvel film, but they deliver some of the best work from an ensemble cast in a blockbuster such as this in easily the past 20 years minimum.
Indeed upon reflection, it definitely feels to me like every choice the filmmakers made was the choice that the film needed to make in order to be successful; nevertheless though it is still quite mind-bending to recognize not only how extremely well the movie pulls them off, but also that this franchise as a whole has actually gotten to a place where they could be pull off what they have here.
Now arriving simultaneously with all of the film’s surprises is the extremely enjoyable experience that truly is just viewing this film in the first place. This is because thus far, the majesty behind the Russo Brothers and their contributions to the Marvel Cinematic Universe has always been found in regards to the emotional heft that they’ve brought to the stories they’ve brought to the silver screen from Captain America: The Winter Soldier all the way to Avengers: Infinity War. Yet while all of that is still there, I feel you need to know dear reader: Avengers: Endgame has a remarkably different tone than what you might be expecting. Now I say this because while the film is most definitely still an emotional ride, if not downright heart wrenching, the nature of the narrative being told also allows the film to be enjoyable in a way that I feel has only been experienced in small tastes in the previous MCU films. Indeed it may be kind of bold to say, but I think it will be a challenge for pretty much anyone to watch this film and not possess some kind of grin plastered on their face for the bulk of this film’s runtime, but especially during a certain point during a certain time in the film that you will know when you see. Indeed it truly is unlike anything I have ever had the immense pleasure of seeing before.
All in all it may be painting this film into a corner by calling it a love letter to Marvel fans, but at the same time this film undeniably does feel like a wonderful beyond any and all words gift to all those who have spent the last decade-plus emotionally engaging with the lives and various misadventures of these characters. Indeed it’s still hard to believe even after seeing it, but for the past 11 years at the time of this film’s release, through the work of the most remarkable casts, crews, and filmmakers ever assembled, what once seemed like an impossible dream is now a phenomenal reality. Indeed it truly has all been leading to this, and yet I can guarantee you that Avengers: Endgame is more than a capping of a series of equally as impressive films or the chance to see some of the most iconic pop-culture figures of the past 100 years brought to life in a way never before imagined; it is also a true cinematic experience for the ages and one that audiences are going to want to experience over and over again. Excelsior Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Jim Starlin. Your legacies, your iconic characters, and the timeless worlds that you created with such passion, such spirit, and such heart will never be forgotten. On a scale of 1–5 I give Avengers: Endgame a solid 5 out of 5.
*I just wanted to say on behalf of myself and everyone on the At the Movies desk here at Drop the Spotlight thank you for making this first set of 100 reviews as successful as they have been! You, the movie fan are why we do what we do, and why I personally consider it a pleasure and a honor to do what I do and as long as there are movies we will always try to be there in order to give you our take on them. Thanks for reading and here’s to the next 100. Love you all 3000 and I’ll see you guys….at the movies! Ag*