It’s the sequel to Avengers: Infinity War and the all-encompassing conclusion to a decade-plus worth of Marvel Cinematic Universe films. Was it worth the wait, the hype and the three-hour runtime? My (spoiler-free) Avengers: Endgame movie review.
It’s been 24 hours since I finished watching Avengers: Endgame. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to write a review or not (I haven’t written a movie review since Avengers: Infinity War!). Ultimately though I think I need to write this Avengers: Endgame movie review to sort out how I feel about it.
Avengers: Endgame is a sequel that delivers
Looking back at my review for Avengers: Infinity War, it’s funny in hindsight that I thought that movie had a lot of heavy lifting to do; sure, it was the first part of this mega-conculsion to this mega-franchise and had a zillion characters to juggle, but Endgame not only had to wrap up that mega-conclusion… it also had to pick up all the pieces from Infinity War‘s dramatic ending. While juggling a zillion (and three) characters.
In the end, I think Avengers: Endgame accomplished everything that set-up required it to do. It didn’t necessarily get there by the smoothest road, but the accomplishment in itself is no less impressive.
Without spoiling anything, I can say that the film does indeed conclude both the MCU and Infinity War in a satisfactory manner. There are many, many emotional moments in the latter half of the film; it delivers on the dramatic stakes and if you’ve invested yourself, emotionally, in these characters over the course of the many Marvel films, you’ll probably be choking back tears, both happy and sad, along the way.
The movie opens at a breakneck pace
There are several things that you know, from the ending of the last film, from the films we’ve seen in the meantime (Ant-Man and the Wasp and Captain Marvel), and from the trailers, that are going to happen in this film. And Avengers: Endgame gets that all out of the way quickly, launching you right into the action, before slowing down and letting the story settle. I really liked this approach; not only does it get these “yeah, we knew that was coming” moments out of the way for the viewers, from a narrative standpoint, these men and women of action wouldn’t want to just sit around after what happened at the end of Infinity War.
From there, that leads into a slower interstitial part, which works really well in terms of emotional setup, before picking up at a faster speed through the middle — and zooming right into the end.
Somehow it doesn’t feel as well-paced as Infinity War, and I suspect it has to do with that middle part.
Stuck in the middle with you
The second act of the film sees the good guys come up with a new world saving plot, and that’s where I think the film struggles a bit. Here, the “original Avengers” — Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), who all conveniently survived “the snap” — get the spotlight here, fittingly, and yet they’re constantly joined in said spotlight by others in what turns into a kind of “MCU Greatest Hits” montage. And while it all mostly works, and it’s all fun and cool to see, it also belies some of the urgency the characters should be feeling at this point… I won’t go so far as to say the film drags here, but this section does feel long.
There’s also some serious Star Trek: The Next Generation level techno-babble throughout this part, the sort of thing that you’re better off not thinking about too much because if you do, the whole thing pretty much falls apart. It definitely leaves a few unanswered questions in the end; as always with this stuff, just enjoy the ride and don’t worry about what plot holes it may or may not create.
Am I ready to see it again? Well…
When I walked out of Avengers: Infinity War, I wanted to buy another ticket and watch it again, immediately. I didn’t have that same feeling after Endgame.
I don’t think that means Infinity War is better, or that I liked it more, or anything. It may just be that Endgame was emotionally exhausting and I needed time to recover after seeing it! But something about the way Infinity War focuses on Thanos and makes it his story, gives it a more clearly defined narrative. In that film the heroes are responding to him; he drives the action. in this film, the heroes drive the action, and because there are so many of them, it gets a bit muddy and unfocused — again, especially in that middle section.
Let’s give it up for Jeremy Renner!
Renner’s Hawkeye has been fairly underused in the MCU to date; I haven’t done the math but I suspect Endgame gives him his most lines to date. And Renner makes the most of it; he’s great here. Karen Gillan’s Nebula also has a bigger role to play here than ever before, and she also does quite well, although the character just isn’t given to the same sort of range — she’s still mostly just angry throughout. Ultimately though, this movie belongs to Evans and Downey Jr. and they are both a treat to watch throughout. Downey plays Tony Stark as sarcastic and externally self-serving as ever, while maintaining that heart of gold in the middle; Evans, though, seems more comfortable and at ease than ever as Captain America, and that’s been a really cool thing to see, from Captain America: The First Avenger to here.
So that’s all she wrote? Nah, of course not. As far as I can tell there’s only one MCU film scheduled, Spider-Man: Far from Home (July) but you know in this franchise-driven era of movies Disney isn’t going to let IP like Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and The Avengers lay idle for long.
Until then, though, Avengers: Endgame is a fitting, emotional ending to this long-running saga.