When Avengers: Infinity War devastated audiences everywhere with its brutal final twist, which saw arch-villain, Thanos succeeding, and wiping out half of all life in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a snap of his Infinity Gauntlet-powered fingers, audiences were rabid with anticipation for the immediate follow-up that they already knew was coming the following year. Marvel Studios was fully aware of just how much ceremony would be behind the release of Avengers: Endgame as well, refusing to divulge the movie’s title until barely a few months before its release date, and refusing to give barely a shred of information regarding what the movie was about. Marvel Studios even now refuses to talk about upcoming ‘Phase Four’ movie plans for the MCU, until at least a couple of months down the line, for want of preserving the experience of Avengers: Endgame for audiences everywhere. For all intents and purposes, Avengers: Endgame essentially exists as its own gigantic spoiler.
This somehow places the movie in an even more challenging position than Avengers: Infinity War was in last year. After Avengers: Infinity War realized the single largest cinematic crossover ensemble in history, and managed to both effectively observe the ten-year anniversary of Marvel Studios, while also structuring a legitimately great storyline around so many beloved MCU characters at once, Avengers: Endgame has to do that again, while also providing a satisfying wrap-up to the entire MCU movie catalogue’s current saga of events, on top of setting the stage for what’s next. It’s like trying to capture lightning in a bottle a second time, with a crazy straw, on a sunny day.
And yet somehow, like Avengers: Infinity War before it, Avengers: Endgame succeeds at everything it sets out to do. Not only that, but Avengers: Endgame is so astonishingly excellent that it even easily surpasses its predecessor, despite Avengers: Infinity War also often standing as one of the MCU’s best movies to date! Breaking down exactly why is difficult, since, as I mentioned, Avengers: Endgame almost stands as its own gigantic spoiler, being another sublime superhero blockbuster that demands audiences know virtually nothing about it going in. All that needs to be known is that Avengers: Endgame stands as another of the MCU’s best achievements to date, somehow making the already superb Avengers: Infinity War look like a mere appetizer for the true epic conclusion of the MCU’s Infinity Saga!
With approximately half of the MCU’s celebrated heroes now turned to dust by Thanos’ mighty snap at the end of Avengers: Infinity War, the survivors of ‘The Decimation’, as the snap came to be known, are left to try and pick up the pieces. Coincidentally, the entire OG Avengers lineup from 2012’s The Avengers managed to survive the snap, though not all of them were present to witness Thanos’ dark triumph in Wakanda during the end of Avengers: Infinity War. Iron Man is adrift in space as Avengers: Endgame begins, with no supplies and no fuel reserves, and while he was absent from Avengers: Infinity War, Hawkeye has also donned a new mantle, as the violent vigilante, Ronin, seeking retribution for what he has lost. The rest of the Avengers meanwhile try to move on with their lives, attempting to eke it out in a world that has now lost half its population, leaving the economy, entertainment industry and general social decorum in ruins.
Predictably, Avengers: Endgame begins in a slow-paced, melancholy fashion, with the titular heroes truly at their lowest points. The fallout from the snap is beautifully explored, with not just the Avengers, but the population at large struggling to move on from a disaster that seemingly has no solution. This point is truly hammered home with characters like Captain Marvel and Ant-Man, who play key roles in this follow-up, with Ant-Man in particular being used as the device through which the audience can see the horror felt by individuals who aren’t truly clear on what’s happened to the world, and where half of it has gone. Since Ant-Man was also absent from Avengers: Infinity War, and Captain Marvel only recently made her MCU debut in this past March’s Captain Marvel, these two characters naturally pave the way for a potential method of moving forward for the Avengers, presenting one last-ditch effort to possibly save the world, where even the slightest miscalculation will result in not just failure, but also the total destruction of what remains for the MCU’s surviving heroes.
For avid Marvel fans, and MCU enthusiasts especially, Avengers: Endgame works brilliantly as an emotional roller coaster. Despite the appropriately downbeat and slow-paced intro, Avengers: Endgame effortlessly brings the audience into the characters’ journey to try and restore the world to how it was, gradually building in emotional momentum as it goes on, until it eventually comes together in a true battle for the MCU’s existence, within a mind-blowing climax that truly must be seen to be believed! Leading up to that, the movie runs a large gamut of emotions, pushing along inspired, unexpected character arcs for the leads, which provide an exceptional balance of drama, humour and excitement. In many ways, Avengers: Endgame is easily the most emotionally-charged MCU movie to date, somehow surpassing similarly successful dramatic achievements like Captain America: Civil War, and making it look easy. Even Thanos once again manages to be effectively re-interpreted in Avengers: Endgame, with the Mad Titan also going on something of an unexpected character journey in this follow-up, which only further cements him as by far the best villain that the MCU’s movies have realized to date!
Overall, Avengers: Endgame finds an inspired way to pay tribute to just about every single character that has been allowed to make a real impression on audiences over the MCU’s current eleven-year run. The character moments and dialogue are packed with clever fan service for those who have stuck by the MCU throughout its entire current movie catalogue, though not to the point where more casual, uninitiated moviegoers would feel alienated or annoyed. As much as Avengers: Infinity War already stood as a fantastic ten-year anniversary celebration for Marvel Studios and their movies, Avengers: Endgame takes that principle even further, somehow perfectly resolving every pivotal character arc, answering most any question that audiences still ponder (even if some lingering villains are still left to linger), and overall bringing the entirety of the current MCU movie roster’s characters together for what is truly their greatest battle yet. I don’t know how Avengers: Endgame’s sheer character scope managed to dwarf Avengers: Infinity War’s, but it did, and it did it proudly!
It’s no exaggeration to say that Avengers: Endgame, like Avengers: Infinity War before it, had every chance to be a bloated, overstuffed trainwreck. The fact that the movie manages to tell a story that is lengthy, but also cohesive, well-paced and overall satisfying for fans and non-fans alike (though especially fans!), feels impossible, and yet Avengers: Endgame does just that. Its storyline manages to be the perfect climax and resolution to the universe’s Infinity Saga, leaving audiences wanting for nothing, and more than ready to see the next set of adventures for the MCU’s champions, both known and currently unknown. There are no superfluous scenes, no wasted dialogue, no unearned fan service. It’s like watching a master chef prepare the world’s most challenging dish before your eyes, where just one slightly mismanaged ingredient or one iota of slightly miscalculated prep time would result in the platter being a ruined, tasteless disaster, and then serving that perfectly prepared dish to you, realized to its full potential as one of the finest meals you’ll ever have the pleasure of tasting!
The only potential gripe that some may have with the storyline in Avengers: Endgame is that it’s long, clocking in at just over three hours in length, which easily makes it Marvel Studios’ longest movie to date. Even that barely feels like a real flaw however, since the three hours just fly by, thanks to how entertaining and emotionally gratifying Avengers: Endgame consistently is. There was even more potential for this movie to go wrong than there was for Avengers: Infinity War last year, and yet Avengers: Endgame not only completely lives up to its world-shattering level of hype, but somehow even finds a way to surpass it! I certainly won’t spoil the movie’s numerous highlight scenes and awesome moments, but rest assured that Avengers: Endgame is packed with both, making it a colossal treat for Marvel fans, and a thoroughly exciting, dramatic blockbuster for general movie enthusiasts!
(NOTE: The spoiler section, when clicked, discusses post-credits scenes, and any other possible indications as to the future of the MCU.)
Avengers: Endgame does however offer the final Stan Lee cameo, which was filmed shortly before Lee’s death in November of last year. It’s also the first movie to incorporate a character that was formerly introduced in a television series, a first for the MCU’s movies! James D’Arcy briefly reprises his role as Edwin Jarvis from ABC’s frustratingly short-lived Agent Carter series at one point during the movie, which also incorporates cameos from Hayley Atwell’s Peggy Carter and John Slattery’s older Howard Stark (sadly, Dominic Cooper doesn’t appear as the younger Howard Stark). Disappointingly, there are no other characters from the MCU’s television shows that make an appearance in Avengers: Endgame, nor are there any events from the current run of MCU TV shows mentioned, but the Jarvis cameo does potentially suggest that the MCU may be a bit less afraid to acknowledge its TV canon within the movies, going forward. Regardless, it’s just nice to see some small element of an MCU TV series make a brief appearance in Avengers: Endgame, which otherwise continues to entirely focus on the MCU’s movie arm.
Joe and Anthony Russo return to direct Avengers: Endgame, after three excellent former Marvel Studios movies under their belts. Somehow, the Russo brothers even manage to outdo their brilliant Captain America sequels and comparably superb Avengers: Infinity War as well, with Avengers: Endgame being incredibly tightly directed at every turn. The writers, directors and actors all come together like a perfectly-oiled machine, realizing a Marvel Studios movie that just never seems to show any sign of disturbed dramatic momentum, or underwhelming action, or even botched jokes. Despite the clearly extensive attention to detail as well, Avengers: Endgame never feels over-calculated or sanitized either, as it proudly continues challenging the expectations of viewers with unpredictable, often difficult story turns, and the inevitability of there being no true victory without sacrifice.
As with the storytelling, I wouldn’t want to spoil a single bit of this movie’s directing flourishes for you. If you’ve seen the Captain America sequels and/or Avengers: Infinity War however, then you already know that the Russo brothers are two of the finest directors in Marvel Studios’ arsenal, and they somehow manage to keep upping their game ever further with Avengers: Endgame. As much as this movie will still be impressive, funny and emotional for the uninitiated (even if you should at least watch Avengers: Infinity War first, to properly set the stakes for yourself), the sheer amount of excellent MCU fan service moments in Avengers: Endgame also cannot be understated. This is a movie that is packed to the gills with eleven years’ worth of excellent story and character payoffs, and the Russo brothers flawlessly realize every one, bringing the entirety of the MCU’s best big screen elements together once again, while also pushing them to the pinnacle of their potential in one last big spectacle, before the MCU is extensively re-tooled for Phase Four.
Alan Silvestri returns from The Avengers and Avengers: Infinity War to score Avengers: Endgame, and true to form, his latest Marvel Studios soundtrack is likely going to go down as his most exciting and fulfilling MCU movie score to date! Avengers: Endgame’s soundtrack is not only beautifully composed on its own merits, but also carries all sorts of composition tributes to characters both living and dead, as well as callbacks to the more recognized and celebrated musical themes from prior MCU movies. Avengers: Endgame more or less offers a ‘Greatest Hits’-style soundtrack once it properly kicks up, though it also begins with appropriately heavier and more downbeat musical scoring in the first act, saving the heroic tributes for scenes driven more by hope and optimism in the later portions, as the characters must first find their way back to their heroic resolve in the wake of Thanos’ deadly snap. It’s a superb soundtrack overall, and one that Marvel fans in particular will no doubt be enthusiastic to own and listen to at their leisure!
The rest of the sound design in Avengers: Endgame is also positively outstanding, as usual for the MCU’s movie catalogue. Again, I can’t talk about many of the audio flourishes without significant spoilers regarding Avengers: Endgame’s highlight scenes, but don’t let the downbeat intro fool you; Avengers: Endgame is still packed with many exceptional moments of superhero action, drama and comedy! The climax in particular is a truly masterful flexing of cinematic audio design, providing a rapturous degree of super-powered unity and power, as the true climactic battle for the fate of the MCU unfolds. This is a movie that you’ll definitely want to see with the biggest and most powerful sound system you have access to, so premium formats like IMAX are well worth shelling out the extra cash for here!
Avengers: Endgame contains some of the finest visual effects, wardrobe work and action directing that the MCU has yet delivered, with Marvel Studios yet again continuing to raise the bar for visual excellence with each new Avengers movie. The visuals are never overdone however, picking their moments to shine, while being careful to never step on the crucial character arcs at play in this climactic Avengers installment. Avengers: Endgame still feels like a fantastic melange of the MCU’s best visual flourishes throughout its runtime however, once again taking you to a series of unexpected locations that continue spotlighting the MCU’s big screen history in a really gratifying, surprisingly poetic way. It’s amazing to see this movie’s visual design look back as much as it pushes forward, providing the perfect cocktail of Marvel Studios movie moments that nonetheless continues to keep improving its recipe!
As with Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame was also filmed entirely with IMAX cameras, making IMAX theatres the ideal way to watch it. The movie still looks stunning in standard digital screenings, but IMAX theatres in particular really up the scale and potency of the immersion, perfectly making use of the larger, more detailed screen to keep further cranking the outstanding scope of Avengers: Endgame in every scene! The movie’s 3D presentation is also pretty impressive in terms of its enhanced atmosphere especially, with the IMAX 3D cut of Avengers: Endgame definitely standing as the ideal way to experience it! You don’t lose a heavy degree of visual spectacle if you just watch Avengers: Endgame flat in 2D, but at the very least, you should spring for an IMAX ticket if you have that option at all, since that’s certainly how the movie is meant to be viewed! Regardless of your format of choice however, Avengers: Endgame is the new high watermark for visual achievement in the MCU, pushing its visual design just a little further than Avengers: Infinity War did last year, which is certainly an incredible feat!
Avengers: Endgame concludes the MCU’s Infinity Saga with incredible emotional weight and enormous entertainment value, particularly for those who have gleefully consumed every new MCU movie since Iron Man first launched this shared movie universe in 2008. To Marvel movie fans especially, Avengers: Endgame pays wondrous tribute to all twenty-one of its predecessors, both the best and worst of them, delivering writing and direction that constantly calls back to the MCU’s history, without being a slave to what’s come before. The movie’s spectacular conclusion also beautifully paves the way for a bold new MCU chronicle to come, which we’ll get to see a glimpse of in just a couple of months, once Spider-Man: Far From Home finally arrives in theatres.
Avengers: Endgame could have been the biggest disappointment in superhero movie history, considering its risky narrative position and overwhelming degree of buildup. Hell, logic dictates that it should have been the biggest disappointment in superhero movie history! Much like Avengers: Infinity War before it however, Avengers: Endgame overcomes the staggering odds against its success, to the point of even surpassing its superb predecessor with even more emotional punch and artistic triumph! The overwhelming odds of failure for this movie only further bring audiences into the Avengers’ climactic one-in-a-million quest to save the MCU’s ‘vanished’ (or, one-in-fourteen-million, according to Doctor Strange in Avengers: Infinity War!), with viewers left to place their faith in the highly unlikely potential for a proper, fitting conclusion to an epic twenty-two-movie tale.
Feeling that faith be rewarded more than we could have ever imagined is quite simply one of the finest pleasures that any Marvel loyalist could possibly hope to experience on the big screen. That is, in a nutshell, what catapults Avengers: Endgame to powerfully and triumphantly standing as the new gold standard for Marvel Studios movies! Much like the surviving characters, we’re left to look forward to a bold new MCU era from here, one filled with uncertainty, but not due to any diminishing degree of storytelling momentum. It feels like I just keep finding new reasons to say it every year lately, but once again, after over a decade of great movies, the MCU’s movie catalogue is going stronger than ever, with the eleven-year-spanning Infinity Saga somehow finding a way to save its best chapter for last!
- Excellent climactic character journeys that run the gamut of emotional impact
- Consistently airtight writing and direction that's packed with MCU fan service
- Outstanding audio and visuals that combine all of the MCU movies' styles
- It's very long (but fans won't care)