THE STORY – Adrift in space with no food or water, Tony Stark sends a message to Pepper Potts as his oxygen supply starts to dwindle. Meanwhile, the remaining Avengers — Thor, Black Widow, Captain America and Bruce Banner — must figure out a way to bring back their vanquished allies for an epic showdown with Thanos — the evil demigod who decimated the planet and the universe.
THE CAST – 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
THE TEAM – Anthony Russo, Joe Russo (Directors), Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely (Writers)
THE RUNNING TIME – 181 Minutes
By Matt Neglia
”Part of the journey is the end” and my oh my, what a glorious journey and end!
What Kevin Feige has done over the last 11 years and 22 movies at Marvel Studios will be written and talked about for years to come. It will also be celebrated, for not only has he, the Russo Brothers and the entire assembled cast pulled off an emotionally satisfying finale to this portion of the Marvel Cinematic Universe but they have gone the extra mile to solidify themselves in cinematic history. “Avengers: Endgame” is as much of a sequel to “Avengers: Infinity War” as it is to every other Marvel film that has come before it. It is also unlike every other Marvel film before it. At three hours long, “Endgame” is certainly an epic motion picture experience. One that does justice to the characters we have grown to care about over the course of the last decade.
Taking place right after “Avengers: Infinity War,” Thanos (Josh Brolin) has succeeded in wiping out half of the universe’s population with the infinity gauntlet simply by snapping his fingers. The Avengers are broken, defeated and lost as they try to grapple with a new reality where all of their loved ones are gone. Five years pass. Some try their best to cope and move on, some lose hope and some cling on to the idea that one day, things can be different and go back to how they once were. When a solution is presented that could potentially reverse the snap and bring everyone that was lost back to life, the Avengers assemble for what may be their last mission, where the stakes have never been higher and the margin for error needs to be non-existent otherwise they too will be non-existent as well.
It’s very difficult to discuss “Endgame” without giving away any spoilers for its story. It’s overwhelming at times, how much story it needs to cover in not only providing closure from “Infinity War” but also standing on its own as a standalone film. Let’s just say that the story takes the characters in interesting directions, as we see new layers brought to them. And that is the secret to “Endgame,” (No…not that it’s always angry)– it’s the characters. Less action-packed than “Infinity War” and taking more of a character-based approach to the storytelling, “Endgame” compliments “Infinity War” so well in being the more melancholy and emotionally resonate of the two films where the last film contained more of the action and uplifting moments (Minus the downbeat ending where a lot of popular characters died of course). It’s the characters who push the story forward. Even with half of them gone compared to the last film, the personalities, qualities, and talent which the cast brings to this ranks as some of the best work from many of them.
Where “Infinity War” was truly Thanos’ film, “Endgame” belongs to the original Avengers and to the fans. It can’t be understated how much Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, and Jeremy Renner have brought to these characters since the first time they all shared the screen together in 2012’s “The Avengers.” I could spend a few words talking about each of them individually but I don’t want to make it look like I’m praising one member of the cast over the other. They all deserve an equal amount of praise for bringing these beloved characters from the comic books to the screen with humanity, warmth, humor and of course, badass action.
There are other characters as well though. Josh Brolin returns as Thanos, now enjoying his retirement after accomplishing what he set out to do. Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) makes her presence known in a major way. Scott Lang, aka. Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) gets to make an impression after being entirely absent in “Infinity War.” And just like how Zoe Saldana got a lot to do in “Infinity War” as it pertained to Gomora’s relationship with Thanos, Karen Gillan rises to the occasion in “Endgame” as Nebula. With the three hour runtime, the Russo brothers are able to strike a better balance in “Endgame” than they did in “Infinity War” by giving all of these characters their moment to shine. If taken as a whole, with both films seen side by side, there’s not a single member in this absolutely massive cast that I would consider wasted. On top of all of that, there are more than a few characters from previous films preceding “Infinity War” who show up in “Endgame” for both short and extended cameos which only helps to make this special film feel like a grand conclusion. A series finale if you will, to a long-running television series that we got to witness on the big screen rather than the small screen at home.
“Endgame” is equally as funny as “Infinity War,” but it’s also surprisingly emotional and powerful as our heroes are dealing with defeat and failure– something we’re not used to seeing them deal with before. This provides many interesting avenues for each of the actors to explore and they all manage to bring their A-game to this one. Some characters undergo wild transformations allowing the actors to play their characters a little differently than they have in past films which provides some amusement to contrast the more grim aspects of “Endgame.” For some of the cast members, this is their last chance to not only deliver yet another memorable performance but to create a beautiful sendoff for their characters as they become part of cinematic history and they can look back on their work with dignity and pride.
The audience laughed, cheered and cried. What initially started off as nothing more than typical blockbuster fanfare in 2008, has become an emotional investment for some of us over this last decade that we’ll remember for a lifetime. I will admit that “Endgame” is a much more enriching experience if you have seen all of the other 21 films in the franchise beforehand. Some of that watching and re-watching has not always been perfect. There have been many highs, some bumps and occasionally some lows in this decade long journey. But this ending is as perfect as they come.
I don’t think what Kevin Feige and the wonderful people at Marvel have achieved will ever be duplicated, not just with “Endgame” but with the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole. We all know there will be more movies after this one but for some of these characters, and for some of us, this is the end. There are some minor quibbles with “Endgame” in terms of its pacing and plot holes but everyone, literally everyone, deserves a standing ovation for taking us this far and seeing this journey through to the end. Bravo to the late great Stan Lee for creating these characters. Bravo to Kevin Feige on bringing them to the screen. Bravo to the cast for bringing these characters to life. Bravo to the Russo Brothers for undertaking such an epic once in a lifetime cinematic experience. Bravo to Alan Silvestri for creating one of the most memorable musical cues in quite some time. And bravo to the fans. We got the ending we deserved.
THE FINAL SCORE
THE GOOD – More focused on the characters than the action. Provides an emotionally satisfying conclusion for not just “Infinity War” but for the entirety of the MCU. Melancholy but still humorous. The cast, the score and visual effects are all working at the top of their game to give this grand finale the sendoff it deserves.
THE BAD – Some minor plot holes and pacing issues.
THE OSCARS – Best Visual Effects (Nominated)