Walking out of Avengers: Endgame was the aftermath of experiencing an event film on a scale “hitherto undreamt of.” At least that’s what Doctor Strange might say. In all seriousness, it’s hard to conceive of any film that can match the scope and scale of Endgame. Within this film, Marvel Studios has seamlessly brought together characters from 21 previous movies. Incredibly, Endgame feels like a worthy sequel to all of its predecessors. This might really be a once-in-a-lifetime cinematic event.
It’s almost impossible to downplay Endgame‘s achievement. Even after the heights of Avengers: Infinity War, it’s stunning to see all of Endgame’s elements blended together into a single narrative. Out of the 14,000,605 possibilities that Doctor Strange foresaw in Infinity War, Endgame was the best of all outcomes. It’s a legitimately great movie, even if it’s not quite perfect. But for a conclusion to Marvel’s Infinity Saga, it’s hard to ask for more than this.
Without further ado, here is our Avengers: Endgame spoiler-free review.
One Last Surprise
Directors Joe and Anthony Russo have mastered the art of juggling multiple characters within these big comic book movies. They’ve truly found their calling. Who else could have given Endgame such immense stakes and genuine emotion? There are even moments of true uncertainty and shocking character turns. The Russos masterfully handled it all, while covering an insane number of locations and characters. Somehow, they not only made it work, they’ve turned the film into a rousing success.
However, there are some tonal inconsistencies at certain points during the first two acts. Without getting into spoilers, Infinity War did a better job of maintaining the vibe of the various sub-franchises than Endgame does. Conversely, Endgame has a pace that feels nearly pitch-perfect. The film strikes an effective balance between moving the plot along at a brisk pace while also giving the heroes very rewarding moments. The Russos didn’t really innovate anything in the movie. However, their focus on character over plot is the primary reason that the film is so profoundly satisfying. Who needs style when you have heart?
The Thanos Effect
Screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely successfully paid off many of the elements that have been set up before. Regardless, Endgame‘s script feels both overwritten and underwritten at various points. It was as if the writing duo had painted the characters into a corner that they couldn’t quite get out of. This also creates problems with the story’s internal logic. Moreover, the second act feels a bit convoluted, as crucial plot points were rushed through in a seemingly incongruous manner.
However, Avengers: Endgame is even more ambitious than its predecessor. Whereas Infinity War was largely Thanos-centric, the follow-up smartly thrusts the heroes back into the spotlight. Still, the often-rushed story is one of the weaker aspects of Avengers: Endgame. The first act feels a bit too hurried with one too many contrivances to actually get the plot moving. These are issues that deserve to be discussed further with more context, even if the third act is definitely worth the sometimes-dodgy buildup. Markus and McFeely largely succeeded at everything they set out to accomplish. Make no mistake, this a triumph for them. And that’s more important than a few nitpicks along the way.
The Unsung Heroine
The incredible ensemble of actors enhance this film to the nth degree. The interactions between the various cast members easily provide some of the best moments in Avengers: Endgame. In fact, they’re the saving grace for a movie that – by all intents and purposes – should have never worked in the first place. The secret of Marvel’s success boils down to their stellar casting and consistent character development. Endgame re-confirms that just about every single player in the MCU was the right person for the job. And almost everyone in this film gets their chance to shine.
Casting director Sarah Halley Finn is one of the unsung heroines of Avengers: Endgame. Finn’s presence has been extremely fortuitous for the MCU. She is largely responsible for procuring nearly every member of Endgame’s unreasonably large cast. Those choices really paid off here. Everything from the small character beats to the massive, universe-altering changes that occur were beautifully portrayed by the performers. Without this particular set of actors and actresses, it’s hard to picture any of this resonating at all. So take a bow, Sarah Halley Finn!
Fan Service Like No Other
Recently, Marvel’s movies have been criticized for leaning away from practical effects. Avengers: Endgame also seem to rely on an excessive amount of green screen effects. This was a necessary evil to accomplish some of the things in the film. However, the sheer the amount of effects has become more noticeable than ever. Some of the VFX are even quite stunning. But there are also several scenes where the filmmakers were clearly overwhelmed.
Regardless, many of these moments are simply so fun that it’s hard not to be swept away when they occur. Fan service normally detracts from a story, but it’s one hundred percent acceptable in Avengers: Endgame. In fact, it’s fan service in the best kind of way, because these moments feel like necessary parts of the larger story. They are also just really cool to see. On this front, Endgame will probably stand as a superhero opus for the ages.
This Is the Endgame
Even though both films are unique entities, Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame are inextricably linked to one another. That makes it hard to judge them as individual films. Neither movie can exist without the other. Nor is Avengers: Endgame a perfect movie by any means. However, the film is undeniably a meaningful conclusion for this era of the MCU. Endgame also tells a more complete story than its predecessor, which makes it even more rewarding.
Ultimately, Infinity War and Endgame are a testament to the storytelling prowess of Marvel Studios under Kevin Feige’s leadership. As a clear frontrunner for the big budget effects extravaganza of the decade, Avengers: Endgame delivers on just about every front. It’s fun, it’s action-packed and most importantly, it packs the emotional wallop that it deserves to have after over ten years of universe building.