With their twenty-second film in the company’s towering cinematic universe, Marvel bids farewell to their flagship franchise with the highly anticipated release of “Avengers: Endgame,” a crowd-pleasing and ambitious conclusion to their spectacularly realized world.
With their fourth entry in the MCU and their second “Avengers” film after last year’s “Infinity War,” the fraternal directing team of Anthony and Joe Russo offer their biggest and boldest effort to date, and while there is some evident strain in their attempts to cleanly wrap up all of the countless plotlines and character dynamics, there is more than enough excitement, surprises, laughs and emotional payoffs to please even the most rabid of fanboys. Anchored by an impressive script by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely that somewhow manages to condense all the competing plot threads and character sendoffs into an admittedly long but nevertheless entertaining and surprisingly coherent three hours, audiences will walk away from this daunting undertaking with the feeling that their loyalty to the franchise was richly rewarded.
If you’ll recall, at the end of “infinity War,” super-villain Thanos (Josh Brolin) caused just a little bit of a splash when he obtained the Infinity Gauntlet and used it to wipe out half the universe’s living creatures and half the superheroes to go along with them. Picking up where “Infinity War” left off, “Endgame” begins with the remaining Avengers still grappling with the devastation that Thanos has left in his wake. Beset by feelings of failure and helplessness, this deflated but not defeated cast knows that they have unfinished business to tend to, but first they must locate the Achilles heel of their formidable foe.
With a crucial assist from Ant Man Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), who managed to avoid Thanos’ wrath by being secured within the Quantum Realm at the time of the attack, The Avengers and their superhero sidekicks begin to toy with the notion of some “Back to the Future” style time travel to help them defeat Thanos once and for all. But in order to achieve their monumental task, they must call on each and every one of their counterparts in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to take out Thanos. Expect franchise-topping action, plenty of twists, a surprising amount of laughs and, yes, even some tears as well.
Beyond the tremendous scope of their cinematic vision, directors Joe and Anthony Russo continue to impress, as they did with “Infinity War,” Captain America: Winter Soldier” and “Captain America: Civil War,” with their ability to bring such rich storytelling to a genre that is more often lauded for explosions and special effects than dramatic depth. As comfortable and confident handling big battle sequences as they are with tender drama, the Russo brothers can deliver the goods for the action fans without ever losing sight of how important these characters are to the audience, which results in a much richer moviegoing experience than one might expect from a superhero film.
As expected, the cast of “Avengers: Endgame” are an enthusiastic lot who not only deliver performances on par with or better than previous entries in the MCU but also might be the biggest A-list cast to ever appear together onscreen. Thanks to the inclusive and far-reaching script by McFeely and Markus, no character is short-changed with sendoffs, though audiences will probably be most taken with Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man, Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk, Paul Rudd’s Ant Man, and Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel. Captain America’s lack of screen time in the previous entry is also atoned for here, as Chris Evans is provided more than enough to work with to deliver the denouement the character deserves.
Featuring blockbuster-worthy action that is nothing short of epic, an absurd A-list cast featuring all the fan favorites and then some, and some all-around masterful storytelling from Marvel’s go-to directing team, “Avengers: Endgame” calls checkmate on superhero spectacles.
By Lucas Mirabella
Running Time: 181 minutes
Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and some language.