In writing this review, I can’t help but find myself highly conflicted over what exactly to divulge about Avengers: Endgame.
Do I delve into Endgame’s plot in any way, shape or form? Do I reference the events of its predecessor, last year’s smash Avengers: Infinity War? Do I discuss the fact that I still would love to see a film based around Turner D. Century, Spider-Man’s bicycle-riding nemesis from the 1980s?
It’s hard to know which route to pursue. After eleven years of worldbuilding and a year of anticipation following Infinity War’s bleak ending, directors Anthony & Joe Russo have put together a marketing campaign that’s offered very little in terms of where Endgame will take us, what it means for the greater future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and, in both regards, couldn’t have been better executed. By shrouding the film in a veil of secrecy, with trailers that have revealed only brief snippets of what we can expect from Endgame, the Russos have seemingly taken a page from the playbook of J.J. Abrams and perfectly built hype for a movie about which those of us who have followed this journey since day one couldn’t be more excited to see how it turns out.
Turns out, the resulting product is near perfect.
Perfection, in this case, can mean many different things. Maybe it’s the culmination of the journey our beloved superheroes have taken, both individually and collectively. Maybe it’s the reflection on the past eleven years and how far we’ve come since Tony Stark cobbled together a weaponized suit of armor in an Afghan cave. Maybe it’s the sheer talent of the Russos as directors and the returning screenwriting team of Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely. Maybe it’s the performances, the score, the effects. Whatever one decides to focus their attention, one is bound to find any number of things that produce a smile.
None of the cast phones it in, none seem disinterested in their situation, none seem like they’d rather be off shooting a sequel to Sherlock Holmes, Snowpiercer or Rush. One could argue that Jeremy Renner, Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. deliver better than others, with Brie Larson continuing to settle into Captain Marvel, and Mark Ruffalo & Chris Hemsworth wonderfully handling a decent amount of comedy. Make no mistake-Endgame is loaded with jokes, nearly all of which work well, and a nice breath of fresh air following the third act gloom of Infinity War. Paul Rudd, thankfully, finally nails the role of Scott Lang/Ant-Man after what I believe were several halfhearted attempts in his past MCU appearances, whether due to a lack of character understanding on his part or even Ant-Man helmsman Peyton Reed. In Endgame, he’s a full-fledged Avenger at long last, and couldn’t be a better superpowered Average Joe if he tried. Josh Brolin once again assists in fixing Marvel’s onscreen villain problem with a more menacing Thanos, and overall it never feels that the conclusion of certain story arcs, while others continue, is anything less than natural.
Natural may be the best word to describe the events of this film. The pace is balanced in a way that would please The Mad Titan himself, progressing from Infinity War with a conclusion that knows how to buoy the action, heaviness and humor extremely well. Yes, the unexpected does occur, yes, you’ll probably shed more than a few tears, and you can rest assured that there’s moments that’ll have you cheering. It’s fan service in the best way, and truly could have gone far past the three-hour runtime-I never wanted Endgame to end. All this is propelled along by Alan Silvestri’s returning work as score composer, continuing his unbelievable track record as of late with music that touches on most of the individual established character themes at one point or another while fully fleshing out his Avengers music in as beautifully bombastic a manner as possible, while still finding that counterpoint during those moments when things slow down.
There’s a lot to unpack without delving into spoilers, and unfortunately there do exist elements that could be viewed as logic failings on behalf of the screenwriters, the Russos or both. It’s also not a film I’m sure I’ll revisit consistently-as spectacular as Endgame may be, the emotional journey onscreen is downright exhausting, yet still supremely satisfying. All of this is nitpicky at best, and does make for some fantastic post-film discussion, which I’m sure will continue well into the future. It’s a future that, to paraphrase Back to the Future Part III, is somewhat unwritten, and one that I’m not even sure is completely necessary. Rarely do I leave a concluding chapter of a story such as this completely fulfilled.
Less a film and more of an experience, Avengers: Endgame is something special, rich in some of the MCU’s finest performances to date and something that’s hard to fathom how well the Russos pulled it off. It’s something to be seen in theaters, surrounded by fans, all ready to take in something that’s absolutely once-in-a-lifetime. I don’t know that anyone else can possibly execute anything like what Kevin Feige has done over the past eleven years, and maybe that’s OK. Part of the journey is the end, and now that we’re there, we can finally look back on the completed Infinity Saga as the gift it was always meant to be. In that sense, it keeps giving, an adventure that never truly ends, one that will remain in the hearts of fans as time goes by and hopefully spark the imagination of the MCU’s next generation of creative geniuses. I don’t know what could possibly come next to top what’s been done, and I can’t wait to see it.