So this is where it all comes together - 11 years of movies and shows, starting from the very first Iron Man film back in 2008. It's amazing to think back and realize that such an ambitious project as the MCU seems nearly impossible to accomplish all the way back then; I think many would agree that it would be downright silly, though awesome, so suggest this whole thing at the time. A 22-film franchise with multiple sequels for various properties, crossovers, and extra material to create a world that was similar in scope and history as the comics they were based off of. For 16 year old me at the time, I would have considered it an amazing dream I'd hope to see come true - and to that I can say I'm glad to have done so. It started with me seeing Iron Man back in my High School days, and here I am now having watched Endgame and two years after my work in University. I've seen the journey go on for a long time, and became fans of heroes that I wasn't quite so loving towards before their current version's cinematic debut. Many of those films I consider now to be favorites, others fun romps to enjoy with friends; there were many moments that got me excited, both as a newcomer to these characters' histories and as a knowledgeable reader in some others. Just over a decade's worth of material has come together for this movie: a sequel to last-years epic crossover of all Marvel cinematic characters, and presented in just as grand (if not more so) a fashion as its predecessor. Avengers Endgame stands not only as a film and as a sequel, but as the result of a long history of films many of us have long watched, and is the goal that was to be reached ever since Iron Man brought the hammer down onto his first suit.
The question now comes: was it all worth it in the end? Is Endgame the film that made this adventure worth going through? Furthermore, what does it mean for the MCU going forward? Can there still be an MCU post-Endgame? To that I shall do my best and relay my thoughts for you all - starting with the film itself.
Firstly though, a warning: I will be spoiling Endgame as well as Infinity War.
It's impossible for me to do this review without doing so, as the film touches on a lot of things and also hints at what may come in the future.This is an early warning that this will spoil the movie, and so I hope that you realize from this point forward it is your choice whether or not you'll accept it. THIS IS A SPOILER WARNING. IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE MOVIE YET, AND STILL WISH TO WITHOUT ANY SPOILERS, THIS IS YOUR CHANCE TO DO SO.
Additionally, as I should note, this movie is an epic crossover that involves every property/character showcased in the MCU so far. There will be references both minor and critical to the plot, which I will point out wherever necessary.
However before we get to the story, let's start with the stuff that isn't spoilers. Let me cover all the things that you'd probably want to know before the story in order to decide if you wish to see the movie and still wanting to read my review. After that though is your last chance.
-------------------THE NON-SPOILER REVIEW:EFFECTS AND MUSIC:
The technical stuff is really, really great here - and is especially so during the final third.
There's some top-notch cinematography, and the action scenes are very exciting. The usage of colors is great, in particular during the first and final thirds. The depressing nature of the opening is done well in how its visually communicated, and the triumphant, action-packed direction of the finale is wonderful. The mid point is done well, though it depends heavily on how you view the direction of content done at the time (hint hint). For the most part the character designs are great, with some poor ones here and there (especially with the suits in the middle section of the film). Overall though the effects are spectacular, with little to no complaints that truly change my feelings towards the film as a whole.
The music is a mix of old a new. There are some newly made orchestras for End-Game, as well some inclusions of older themes from previous films. It's something of a loving tribute to the history of the MCU, with the old themes really hitting you in how they've become synonymous with a decade's worth of Marvel history. When the music needs to fit a certain theme, it does so successfully. I honestly have zero issues in how the themes were done, as well with any other usage of sound in the film. On a technical level, Endgame is marvelous.ACTING:
Everyone does a great job, and I honestly have little issue.
With such a wide and storied cast, some characters do get the spotlight more than others - this is especially true when you consider about half of them are dead at the time of the film's opening due to past film events. The big leads in this film are, of course, the big three: Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man. Secondary characters like Hulk, Ant-Man, Rocket Raccoon, Hawkeye, and Black Widow get their moments (some more than others) but aren't as much a focus as the three big leads. The big theme of these three characters, as well some others, is an accepting of their time spent, and the preparedness to leave it all once its all done. Captain America and Thor are the lesser of the three, with their story arcs exploring being pretty great for their development (Cap more so than Thor). The former of the two shows some hints in his story of actions and motivations he'll take later in the film, ultimately making Captain America's story a powerful statement on the character's coming retirement and his acknowledgement of how much he's done. Thor meanwhile is another humbling experience, in accepting the mistakes he's made and maybe understanding that he's better off taking a path never prepared for him; however you may, or may not, have issues with his arc depending on how you view his physical progression after the events of Infinity war. Above all of them though, Iron Man's story is the most complete and central, connecting not only his current progression but also that of his overall change from the very beginning. We see him go through various phases in trying to make something of himself beyond just Iron Man, and we see the inner-turmoil and pain he's been harboring for so many years finally relax as he begins to find peace with all he's done. It's no secret that, with much of the fan's expectations, that these three won't be around for much longer - how that happens though is up for you to find out.
Including a lot of the characters who died during Infinity War, other characters like Okoye (see: Black Panther), Pepper Potts, and Captain Marvel get the least amount of development and on-screen presence - especially Captain Marvel. She shows up in the beginning of the film up until the start of the mid-part, and only returns during the climax. Having not yet see her premiere film yet, I have no strong opinions about her character.
Finally there's the main villain Thanos who has an interesting part in this film. Without going too deep into spoilers, we get to see two versions of Thanos: him a successful being who has made his ultimate goal; and, an enraged titan whose mission is being undone. We get a more villainous look into Thanos' motivation and character, far more than Infinity War provided. Where the previous film gave a facade of noble intentions undone by insanity, Endgame applies pressure and shows how vindictive the villain can become when a wrench is thrown into his plans. He's still an intimidating force, and he fights hard during the epic finale. Truly, this film and Infinity War truly gives audiences what they want after so much waiting to see this big bad in action.
Overall though, a huge praise for the performances in this film, though some characters get far more focus than others.WRITING AND PACING:The first third can be a problem if you can't stand slow films, but it's more than worth it for the final 2 thirds - especially the climax.
The film goes through phases and themes as it progresses.
The opening is deceptively epic, but is cut short for a very depressing, dark opening third that shows the weight of the aftermath of Infinity War. We get a look into the characters and how they react to what happened, some fairing worse off than others. It really sets the scale of damage from the previous film, and what the heroes are trying to fix as the plot continues. The second/mid-portion of the film is where the usual Marvel action/storytelling is put forth. There are multiple plot-lines that are somewhat easy to follow, each following an arc that both progresses character development while looking back at what came before. The Cap/Iron-Man plot-line in particular is the most central, with great amount of introspection for the characters and preparedness of the climax's events. Much of it is build-up to the final third, of which is where a great amount of action and epic scenes is centralized. The final third is definitely what you want to be looking forward to in your viewing, and tries its best to shine a spotlight on every Marvel character in the MCU so far. It's epic, it's grand, and I loved every minute of it. The conclusion though is a lovely, even saddening send off. We see the ending arcs (and hinting beginnings) for some characters, with some ending completely in ways that may please fans of the franchise. Endgame is a strong end for some, and a great chapter for others. It leaves you satisfied in where it stops, but happy to see where it can continue.NEGATIVES:
Might as well list some non-spoiler negatives if you're still interested in seeing the film but want some forewarning first.
- This film is 3 hours, and the 1st hour can feel very slow and long if you're not in the right head-space for it. Though there's nothing truly wrong about the opening third of the film, you'll still need to sit through it in order to get to the more interesting, exciting parts of the film. How you take this depends on your tolerance for a slow paced film.
- Some sections feel padded by comedy of the Marvel variety, though thankfully isn't as prevalent as in other films.
- The fast-paced pacing of the 1st and 2nd third can leave some areas of the plot that seem confusing when you reach the 3rd and its conclusions. Additional content and examination helped fixed this, though depending on your tolerance this may or may not be an issue while viewing.
- Thor's arc. While not terrible, the treatment of Thor can also make or break a viewing depending on how close to the character you feel, and your feelings towards how they take his trauma following Infinity War. Personally it was annoying, but tolerable as it went further. Some of the comedy was good, but I have some conflicting feelings regarding his overall treatment.
- The conclusion leaves so much to be desired. It's not bad, but I'd love to see where it's all heading from that point. Not a true negative, but something I should mention early on before I get into spoilers.
Non-Spoiler Conclusion: SPOILER-REVIEWPLOT SUMMARY:
Avenger's End-Game is an awesome film that serves as a fitting, effective end for the MCU thus far. It can be emotional, especially for long-time viewers of the franchise, and may please many in how they end the stories for these characters. I can happily call Endgame a must-see for Marvel fans,
and I'd honestly be happy if this would be the final chapter for the MCU. Where it may continue is worth looking forward to, but no matter what at least it's gone on long enough to reach this point as successfully as it had. High recommendations; go see it for yourself.
With the non-spoiler section done, it's time for one last warning: IF YOU STILL WANT TO SEE ENDGAME AFTER THIS POINT, LEAVE THIS PAGE AND GO DO SO. IF YOU STILL WANT TO READ THOUGH AND RISK SPOILING YOURSELF IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THIS MOVIE, THAN THAT IS YOUR CHOICE. YOU'VE BEEN WARNED.
The Avengers have lost.
Thanos, the Mad Titan, has acquired all Infinity Stones and with a snap of his fingers has done away with half of all life in the Universe. An unimaginable number of beings have been dusted away into nothingness, with casualties including heroes like Falcon, Doctor Strange, Quill, Black Panther, Scarlet Witch, and Spiderman among others. Satisfied, Thanos has teleported himself away to an unknown planet so he may bask in the balanced universe he has created - meanwhile the surviving Avengers are left to comprehend just how terribly they've been beaten. It takes some time, but they eventually come together and proceed with their goal: find Thanos, kill him, take the stones, and bring everyone back. With the whole universe at stake, it's now or never for these heroes to right all wrongs and end a madman's vision of paradise - no matter the cost.THE FIRST ACT (POST SNAP):
What starts as a simple goal quickly becomes complicated. As soon as the film opens up more, the situation becomes far worse when finding Thanos proves to be too easy - and so is fighting him.
In the first 30 minutes of the film, the surviving Avengers with the help of Captain Marvel (after retrieving Tony and Nebula from Titan) quickly find a greatly injured though peaceful Thanos in his hideout. They are then told that Thanos, no longer wanting anything more of his newly changed universe, has used the power of the Infinity Gauntlet to destroy the stones - thereby stopping any chance of reviving half of all life. Then, just as quickly, Thor kills Thanos - finally getting his revenge, though finding little satisfaction. Without the stones, the Avengers return to a more ruined Earth, unsure of what to do from this point forward. After which the film skips 5 years into the future, with society surviving though not without serious injury. The Avengers have all but broken up, with their work focused on aiding what's left of life in their world, and finding some meaning in their lives since their great failure. Captain America helps provide support while Black Widow takes charge by maintaining communication; a depressed Thor secludes himself in his people's new home of New Asgard on earth, growing fat from his alcoholic mourning; Hawkeye has gone rogue after losing his entire family to Thanos' snap, taking a relentless fight to gangs around the globe; Iron Man has left as well, and others are either doing their own work in finding some solution - or in keeping the peace.
The plot does pick up though when Ant-Man is brought back from the Quantum Realm (See: Ant Man and the Wasp), and he returns to find a now changed Earth and his name among those who were snapped away from existence. With Ant-Man's return, there's a shot at hope with the use of the Quantum Realm: with the chaotic, dimensional nature of the realm, the heroes could use it to travel to past, distant Earths and retrieve the Stones from moments in time to bring everyone back.With only this one chance at their disposal, Captain America quickly gathers a team to help in this quest. They convince the likes of Rocket Raccoon, War-Machine, Nebula, Hawkeye and Thor to come along. Tony Stark is hesitant, after retiring and having a daughter with Pepper Potts, but is eventually convinced to join in the effort; additionally there is Bruce Banner joining along, who over the 5 years has made peace with the Hulk and has become a hybrid of his own genius and the Hulk's strength and body. With a limited amount Pym particles left for their trip, they split into teams and venture into various periods of the MCU's history to retrieve the stones from their time.
Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, and Ant-Man go to 2012 New York during the events of the first Avengers film to retrieve the three stones that were there at the time.
Thor and Rocket Raccoon go to 2013 Asgard during Thor: Dark World, to grab the Reality Stone in Jane Foster.
Finally Hawkeye, Nebula, War-Machine, and Black Widow go back to 2014, out to space at the time of the first Guardians of the Galaxy film, where two other stones are located.
This act is the slowest of the film, with the focus being on character study, looking at the aftermath of the snap, and a slow build-up to the second act and the events from then on. It is the toughest act to go through, but is more than worth it for the real meat of the film.
SECOND ACT (THE TIME HEIST):
Each team goes through their own adventure, some short and some long, in grabbing the stones. This portion of the plot takes a huge chunk of the film, ending until the final third. The 2013 and 2014 missions go on much shorter than the 2012 one, with Nebula and War Machine easily retrieving the Power stone (after knocking out Quill from the start of Guardians of the Galaxy). However Nebula gets capture just as War Machine returns forward in time, finding herself taken prisoner by this time's Thanos, who still has a loyal Gamora and Nebula under his command. This Thanos soon learns about the alternate future's attempt at fixing what his future self has succeeded in doing, and is so insulted by their attempt to ruin his plan that he decides to follow them and cement his plan once and for all. He sends the past Nebula to take the place of her future counterpart, so that she may ensure a path through time for Thanos and his armies to follow.
Meanwhile, in the 2013 mission, Thor gets a chance to meet with his mother one last time before she dies from the vents of Dark World. He even gets this timeline's Mjolnir to use.
The longest plot though is the 2012 mission, with the team traversing through the battle and aftermath of Loki's invasion of New York. Hulk separates to meet with the Sorcerer Supreme (see: Doctor Strange), who holds the Time Stone and was busy defending the Sanctum from the attack. Meanwhile Cap, Ant-Man, and Iron Man attempt to retrieve the Space and Mind Stones from their past selves after having defeated Loki. With some mishaps, including a run-in with the Hulk, Cap using his knowledge of the secret Hydra agents within SHIELD (See: Captain America: Winter Soldier), and him fighting his own past self, they are successful in retrieving the Mind Stone but have to go back to the 70's to get the Space Stone. There, Captain America sees his long-time love Peggy Carter (See: Captain America: First Avenger) once again in the time of her youth, and Tony Stark makes amends with his father Howard.
However not everything goes as nicely, as Hawkeye and Black Widow go to retrieve the Soul Stone back in 2014. There they learn the sacrifice they must make to get the stone, and after some fighting and argument over who deserves to live or die, it's Black Widow who becomes "victorious": killing herself so that Hawkeye can have a future.
With all the stones finally gathered, the team momentarily grieves over the loss of Black Widow and goes about their goal in snapping half of all life back into existence. With the Hulk becoming the wielder of the glove, it becomes a desperate struggle to fight the overwhelming power of all six Infinity Stones combined, all while Thanos makes his return.
The Second act is a large chunk of the film, and is where a lot of set-up and story occurs. It also helps to build up the final act, while also hinting at some moments and character motivation, while at the same time acting as something of a love-letter to longtime fans of the MCU.THIRD ACT (AVENGERS ASSEMBLE)
The final third, and the biggest greatest moment in the MCU
, is where it all comes together for a clash to end it all. With all the stones retrieved, they manage to use their power to snap all life back into their universe. However from there on the battle hasn't stopped, as the past Thanos comes with everything at his disposal - his warship, and every army, general, and faction he held under his command, fresh and ready to destroy everything for their master. All seems lost once again, until Captain America receives a call from a now revived Falcon. In a monumental, triumphant moment, all the heroes that were lost come forth from portals constructed by Doctor Strange and his sorcerers. The many armies of Wakanda, a legion of sorcerers led by Strange and Wong, and the surviving Asgardians come forth in great numbers. Heroes like the Guardians of the Galaxy, the great fighters of Wakanda led by Black Panther, Valkyrie and her Pegasus, Ant-Man and Wasp, Pepper Potts in her Rescue Armor, Spider-Man, Scarlet Witch, Winter Soldier, and finally the entire lineup of the Avengers - all lined up to defend Earth and end the Mad Titan's reign. With Captain America giving the command "Avengers Assemble", they launch forward in an epic battle to fight off Thanos' armies. There are many awesome moments, including Spider-man's kill-mode; Scarlet Witch's epic beat-down of Thanos; Captain Marvel launching down from outer space; and so much more. This clash finally ends, however, with Tony Stark managing to grab hold of the Infinity Stones, and in one last act to end this fight once and for all - snaps. With the powers of the infinite, the armies of Thanos are then dusted away, much like the victims he had done away with long ago. Thanos looks over at everything he's lost, and in the realization of his failure, comes to peace before finally fading away. With such power having coursed through his body, Tony Stark barely clings to life as he's surrounded by friends and what he could consider family ... before finally passing away. The Earth, and the universe with it, is saved.THE END (AND THE FUTURE TO COME):
Tony Stark, after having saved the universe with one final act, is given a funeral with nearly every character there to witness it. Even non-heroes are there to see, from Nick Fury and Ross, to the kid from Iron Man 3. Many characters like Spider-Man and Black Panther return to their lives, happy to have saved the world; Hawkeye returns to his family, and so does Ant-Man. Thor relinquishes his leadership of the Asgardians to Valkyrie, and chooses to take his own path by joining along Quill and his Guardians of the Galaxy; Quill however is setting himself on a new mission: to search for the Gamora that was brought from 2014, who has ran off to places unknown. With their ultimate goal accomplished, the Avengers decide that it's best to return the Infinity Stones (and Mjolnir) back to their respective worlds and times. Captain America takes mission himself, leaving off with them all as he's sent back through the Quantum Realm. However he doesn't return back, and it takes Bucky, Bruce, and Sam to see Steve Rogers again - now an old man, sitting at a nearby bench. Steve Rogers, having seen Peggy Carter again, decided to live a long and happy life, creating their own alternate universe where they grew old together. Finally happy to have lived a peaceful life, he returns and hands his shield over to Sam, passing the torch of Captain America down to him. The film ends with Steve Rogers, finally back in the hands of Peggy Carter as they dance away as he had promised all that time ago.MY THOUGHTS:
The conclusion is what really hit me the most about this movie, and I can honestly say that I couldn't have have asked for a better send off. I knew deep down that Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, and the other original Avengers wouldn't be around anymore after this; these characters, as well the actors, deserved an ending for the many years spent entertaining us with their stories. Tony Stark dying was a fitting tragedy in some way; the man who began this journey would also be the one to die in the end with it, and seeing the old core sent off into the lake is a perfect image. However more so than him was Steve Rogers, whose finale is the hardest hitting of them all. It was beautiful seeing him and Peggy dance one more time, as well in seeing his old self so happy in what he's done. Him passing his name down to Sam was perfect for me; Sam deserved to be Captain America in my opinion, and I sincerely hope he does well with this new title.
Thor's storyline could perhaps last another film if the actor is willing, but I'd hoped that he'd maybe go full-circle and become the new Odin for his people. Then again Thor's entire arc across these films is him constantly going against his destiny, and instead carving his own path; it makes sense to see him go off with the Guardians of the Galaxy, though I hope that he doesn't stay long and that he too retires. Wherever Quill and his team goes is for us to find out in the next Guardians film, which I'm happy to see the original director is back in doing.
Peter Parker's relationship with Tony Stark was nice, and it was so good to see Tony embrace Peter after having seen him fade away. Peter still has a story from his point forward, and I hope it goes nicely for him.
There's so much to expect in the future for the MCU. I have many theories and ideas on where it can go, but early film announcements have so far either answered those questions or simply made new ones. Still, at the end this isn't meant to talk about such a thing - I'll leave it all up to you.
After 11 years I can safely say this has been a worthwhile journey. What started as loosely connected films following some heroes I liked had turned to a massive franchise with over 20 films to show for it. Many were hits, some were not, and among the two sides there are favorites I enjoyed. I can truly call Endgame the End of an Era. So much has been built up towards this film, and already it feels like things will change so much from now on. Will this be the plateau? Will it ever rise up so high as it done before? Could this in fact be the end before it all tumbles down? I'm not psychic, but I'm glad for that. For me these films were fun, and have seem always captured that small bit of youth that was much stronger back then when it all started in 2008.
Endgame is a really awesome film, and I can't say much more on why you should see it. If you're a Marvel Fan, this film is for you. I loved it, and I feel that someday later on, when I have all these films in my collection - I think I can happily enjoy a marathon to reach this point yet again.
Thanks Stan Lee, for all the good times.