Published Apr 23, 2019Damn, that was satisfying.
Avengers: Endgame is the culmination of a 22-film narrative arc, meaning that it's a bit like the season finale of a TV series. Now imagine said TV season took place across 11 years, and you'll have some sense of the movie's gravity.
It's appropriate, then, that Endgame is steeped in nostalgia. It's full of references to past films, tying together threads and dropping Easter eggs. It quite literally offers glimpses into past movies, allowing us to see classic Avengers scenes in a new light.
Endgame begins in the wake of "The Snap," the darkly dystopian moment that ended last year's Avengers: Infinity War, when supervillain Thanos (Josh Brolin) used six Infinity Stones to wipe out half of all living beings in the galaxy. The trouble with "The Snap," narratively speaking, is that it dug Marvel into a bit of a narrative hole. They had killed off characters who already had confirmed upcoming films — like Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Spider-Man (Tom Holland) — so it goes without saying that much of Endgame concerns a plan to undo that moment.
This much isn't a surprise, but it's not to say that Endgame lacks twists. There are glimpses of a post-apocalyptic future that are unexpectedly grim, with the dour tone balanced out by some of the MCU's best comedy yet. In particular, the transition of Thor (Chris Hemsworth) from grandiose god to comic relief is fully complete, while Captain America (Chris Evans) stays optimistic by running survivors' support groups, and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) has transformed from rock-star scientist into cynical family man. Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) manages to escape the quantum realm and brings his hilarious wide-eyed naiveté to Avengers HQ, while the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) has comically controlled his superpower in order to maintain a middle-ground between monster and regular guy.
While Infinity War was complex, with its story bouncing between different characters on different planets, Endgame brings the gang together in pursuit of a common goal. Considering how many characters Endgame features, it's an impressively focused narrative, with enough momentum to make the three hours practically race by. Plus, there's one moment of female unity that's clearly intended as a middle finger to the internet's many misogynistic man-babies who trolled this year's thoroughly enjoyable Captain Marvel.
The whole thing is as sentimental as it is exhilarating, but any cheesiness feels well-earned. It's just the right amount of heart-tugging and pulse-racing, effectively closing the book on the previous 21 movies and creating a blank slate for the next phase of the MCU.
Of course, to appreciate all this, you'll need a relatively thorough understanding of all of the films that came before Endgame — so if there's holes in your MCU knowledge, you might want to fill those in before watching this. For those who are invested in the series, this is the extremely cathartic finale; for those who aren't, it's a great reason to start from the beginning.