I walked into Avengers: Endgame with as much apprehension as I had excitement. I found Infinity War to be kind of a disappointing slog and the thought of seeing a three-hour conclusion to that was something that left me a little uneasy. However, I had faith in the Russo Brothers directing their fourth Marvel film, and it paid off. Avengers: Endgame is not only my favorite film of the Avengers franchise, but one of the better installments in the Marvel film universe; not quite top five, but definitely in the top ten.
When we last left our plucky crew, things did not look so great: with a literal snap of his fingers, Thanos (Josh Brolin) wiped out half of existence, including many of our favorite heroes. Endgame picks up weeks after Infinity War leaves off, with Tony Stark and Nebula (Robert Downey Jr. and Karen Gillam) trying to get back to Earth while the rest of whoís left is trying to recover and create a plan. A plan for what? I donít even think they know.
The first 45 minutes of this movie does something that rarely happens in the MCU: it slows down. Endgame does a heartbreaking job showing us how some of the mightiest heroes process grief. The Russos allow the camera to linger on the cast a little longer than most normal action films would allow, and that makes it heartbreaking as we watch some of the strongest heroes have a moment of weakness. Thanosí actions are shown with shots of highways filled with cars with no one in them, but we donít feel them until we see how it has impacted the people who we have followed for the better part of a decade. The fact that the film allows the chance to stop and breathe is such a welcome change from Infinity War, which felt like it was trying to ram everything through.
From this point, the movie is focused on watching our team on another big adventure. Thereís a lot going on here and and a lot to settle up with. Avengers: Endgame needs every one of the 181 minutes to tie up all of the loose ends. Yes, the movie feels long. It is long. But itís also never exceptionally maudlin. There are certainly moments which are needed for grief and regret and reconciliation, but it all comes in service to the greater story. The worst moments in this film happen when the film feels like it is betraying itís own nature. Thereís an action sequence with Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) in Japan which doesnít work at all in the film, but itís because it only feels like itís in there because screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely thought, ďMan! No one has gotten beaten up in a while.Ē Thankfully, those moments are few and far between in this very satisfying film.
Thatís not to say that this film doesnít have problems, because it has a few. Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) is under-utilized in this film, which is sad because of how fantastic Larson was in her solo effort last year. Also, while this film (and all superhero films) are defined by their final battle scene, this action film doesnít exactly have a whole lot of other action besides itís last fight. The film also has a hard time creating the rules of the universe and sticking to them. But none of these things, even when put together, take away from the marvel (pun intended) that Endgame is.
The Russos had a hard job with this film, because Endgame is a finale of sorts (both Downey Jr. and Chris Evans were on the last film of their contract) and that means you have to find a way to create satisfying conclusions. For some of these characters, thereís no more time left for them onscreen. Other franchises havenít found the right way to create proper transitions, and things are always less thrilling and exciting when you know they have to happen. But Endgame, through all of itsí flaws, finds an effective and impressive way to pull it all off. It allows us to say goodbye to the people we need to while getting excited for what is to come. This film works in all tenses: it celebrated the past, thrilled us in the present, and got us excited to be in the future.
I was a little apprehensive to see this MCU effort. I am now thrilled to see the next one.