For obvious reasons, this review is going to spoil Infinity War, so if you haven’t seen that yet get on it. I’ll try my best not to spoil Avengers: Endgame, but a lot of shit happens in the set-up that I can’t talk about so consider this a MILD SPOILER WARNING, just in case I let anything slip.
After Infinity War ended with Thanos (Josh Brolin) completing his mission and dusting half the life in the universe, the remaining Avengers try to come to terms with their loss in vastly different ways, including a couple of them not wanting anything to do with the team anymore. Cap (Chris Evans) and Natasha (Scarlett Johansson) stay focused on finding Thanos and undoing The Snap with a handful of recon teams, but even they are feeling the strain with Cap holding support groups and Natasha trying to find Clint (Jeremy Renner) who’s gone off the radar since The Snap.
As luck would have it, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) – presumed missing since The Snap – manages to escape the quantum realm and immediately goes to find what’s left of The Avengers, theorizing that if they manage to control themselves within the quantum realm, they might be able use it to reverse the damage done by Thanos.
For the record, the theories were right and time-travel is a big factor within the storyline with the majority of the first half committed to the team putting together what they call a ‘Time Heist,’ but I’m not saying anything more than that. Obviously, things go awry because they always do and with time-travel in the mix, it’s a whole new mess of crap to deal with, but the way everything manages to mess up makes a lot of sense and the fallout just builds and builds and builds. Trust me, this film stands a good chance of genuinely hurting you with the final ten minutes.
With the team still fractured from Civil War and now this massive loss over their heads, every character is coping in vastly different fashions. The team put together by Cap and Natasha includes Rhodey (Don Cheadle) who often acts as the voice of reason, trying to keep the team from doing something stupid out of desperation. Rocket (Bradley Cooper)who, as the last remaining Guardian, is hurting from the loss, but hides it well with humor and a general sense of fighting through the anger to get shit done. Where Nebula (Karen Gillan) who does play a surprisingly big role, I won’t spoil how or why, but with her personal relationship to Thanos and wanting vengeance for Gamora, her role in the film has a lot going for it and Gillan is great to watch.
Surprisingly, two main characters are aren’t given a whole lot to do are Carol (Brie Larson) and Thanos. Carol is basically an extended cameo which is a double-edged sword, on the one hand she’s far too O.P. to realistically have a place in the film (and to their credit her reasons for being off-earth for so long make sense) but on the other, all the build-up to her inclusion in the film feels like wasted potential. Thanos conversely makes more sense to have less screen-time, with him being the protagonist of Infinity War and completing his mission, it makes sense for him to take a back-seat here, but that doesn’t stop Brolin from keeping the Mad Titan in our minds. Again, I don’t want to go too far but after The Snap, Thanos has been looking out over the supposedly grateful universe and realizing that the emotional fallout is holding back the survivors and perhaps something else needs to be done about that. Admittedly, Thanos is a lot better in Infinity War, but he holds true to his own morals here, even when faced with impossible prospects.
Having sat out the first Infinity War to star in his own movie, then getting stuck in the post credits scene, Paul Rudd returns as Ant-Man and finds out that shit went down in his absence. In essence Rudd is relegated to comic-relief, but that’s his strong suit and he plays into it very well with some of the film’s funniest lines involving his love for Captain America. None of that’s to say that Rudd doesn’t have his moments and an early scene with his daughter Cassie is a big surprise, but Lang isn’t the focus of this film.
And no, he does not go up Thanos’ butt.
The main focus of this final film in the Infinity Saga is the original six avengers and rightly so with all of them getting a great conclusion to their arcs with some room for expansion should any of them require it. Much like Lang, Clint Barton sat out Infinity War for some family time, and that didn’t go down too well. Barton has now taken on the mantle of Ronin and is systematically and violently killing any surviving criminals on a worldwide scale. This is the strongest role that Renner’s had as Barton in his entire run in the MCU. He’s lost, depressed, angry, and it comes through incredibly, particularly in his scenes with Natasha with Johansson taking up the position of team leader trying to find wherever Thanos ran off to. There’s a real sense of tiredness to both of them that feels palpable and both nail the subtle emotional weight of their characters. Johansson especially shows us a vulnerability to Natasha we’ve never seen before and it makes their scenes together all that much stronger.
Mark Ruffalo has an odd, but interesting turn that I won’t spoil but he’s not as active a team member as you might think, instead keeping to the background and working out the science behind everything. Like everyone he’s willing to sacrifice everything to save the world, but the thought of returning to the chaotic nature of Hulk isn’t a major part of his thought process anymore.
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has what is probably going to be the most divisive arc in the film, especially following his rise to greatness in Infinity War. Personally, I think Thor’s arc makes sense, he had the chance to stop Thanos and his desire to gloat cost them everything, now he’s fallen into disrepair and drunkenness to fool himself into thinking it’s over and to just move on when he really can’t. Hemsworth gets some great chances to flex his comedy muscle here, especially in the first half, but he starts moving back to the warrior king we know and love in the second half. Including some great closure that’s been hanging over him for years now, and where he leaves off is very exciting for future Marvel Projects.
The double team of Tony (Robert Downey Jr.) and Steve is the absolute lynch-pin of this whole film and both Downey and Evans give some of their best performances as the characters. Evans gives Cap a smile and a can-do attitude, even amongst friends he tries to hold himself together, but isn’t afraid to let some cracks in his Armour show. Cap knows that as the fearless leader of who’s left he needs to put on the brave face when facing down the impossible and make everyone believe they can do it and that’s exactly what he does with some of the best Cap scenes in the whole MCU put here in this film. The finale alone has THE most F**k Yeah moment Cap has even been a part of and it’s a fantastic role for Evans.
While Cap is putting on a brave face, Tony is more upfront about the fact that he’s hurting from the loss and wants to move on with his life (for a very good reason that, again, I won’t talk about) but he joins the team anyway because he can’t move on. Downey of course kicked off the entire MCU with his snarky, hilarious turn as Tony Stark and we get plenty of him in here, but in the 11 years since he’s built up an emotional weight to Stark that shines throughout here, particularly in regards to the guilt he feels over losing Peter. While the wounds between him and Cap haven’t healed fully, being forced together – and one sequence in particular standing out – allows them both to work through their problems and gives them both excellent material to work with.
And all of that material is brought together by The Russo brothers who tie up their two-part masterpiece with everything a Marvel fan could want, call-backs, pay-offs, blood, sweat and tears are all part of this experience and it is incredible to witness. On a purely entertainment scale, the Russo’s include a series of applause worthy moments, I mean if you’re an MCU fan and you don’t feel everything hit you in that final battle in the best possible way then you need to check your settings cause you’re a damn robot. Cap alone is worth the ticket and you get the whole team on this.
Where the Russo’s shine though is in how they capture the emotional resonance of tying up a 22 movie saga. There’s still humor to find early on in the film with the jokes about the rules of “Time Travel” and the reveal of Thor bringing most of the humor, but at a certain point the jokes become less important, instead the focus becomes how broken our heroes have become. Trust me when I say this film will hurt you more than once and for good reason, I really want to go into more reasons why but I can’t. But I can confirm it’s all amazing, things might be closing out for this round, but it goes out with a bang. More than anyone, the Russo’s understand the relationships built between these characters for the last decade and use that their advantage to make the hard moments just kick you in the nuts.
Infinity War set the tone for Marvel to bring it’s whole cinematic universe together and in the process gave their best film to date, Endgame not only sticks the landing but surpasses everything in the MCU to date. I have no idea where they go from here, but the whole Infinity Saga has been a hell of a journey and ends as close to perfectly as they can get. Obviously, Endgame has flaws if you look hard enough, anything involving Time-Travel is gonna have its issues and there are moments that are pure fan-service with one Girls Power scene at the end being just bad-ass enough to bypass the obvious forced nature of it. But goddamn if I don’t care, seeing an 11 year journey come to its close with this incredible, bad-ass, shocking, painful and amazing conclusion, the story takes a number of surprising turns that still catch you off-guard. The characters all have their part to play with the core six, and in particular Downey and Evans bringing some of their best work in the MCU and the Russo brothers hold the whole thing together with an impressive mix of sheer awesomeness and emotional weight befitting this incredible final act.
I am giving Avengers: Endgame a 5/5