Wesley R. Ball’s review published on Letterboxd:
I remember when I first saw Iron Man in the theater eleven years ago. After everything was over and the credits started rolling, my dad and our friend left the theater, but I stuck around until the end, hoping that there would be something just a little bit more waiting afterwards to reward me for my patience. Seeing Nick Fury on the screen, introducing himself to Tony Stark, hinting at the start of the Avengers Initiative- to a thirteen year old boy, you might say that was one of the most exhilarating moments in my movie-watching years up to that point in time.
I remember four years later, a senior in high school, going to see the first Avengers movie with my friends: Andrew excitedly raising his Captain America shield that he had brought in anticipation, enthralled that we were about to witness cinematic history in the making. I remember these moments specifically, in fondness, because they were the two key moments in this universe's history that would all lead up to this defining moment for the Marvel franchise- a massive endeavor the likes of which have never been seen on this scale before. I was taken back to those moments throughout Endgame and more, remembering with great endearment my formidable younger years: the date I took my high school girlfriend on to see The First Avenger as we made out in the back of the theater, half paying attention to what was going on on screen; the countless times I rewatched Iron Man 2, convinced that it was the greatest thing Marvel had ever done up to a point; the defining moments when Guardians of the Galaxy stuck in my mind and would never leave me for as long as I live. I was taken back to my past, remembering those I loved, those I lost, those who I would have given anything to have right next to me at that exact moment to witness the same experience.
All these things might seem like the ramblings of a blind fanboy, and you may be right to an extent, but Endgame is what I and millions of others all across the globe have been anticipating for the better part of a decade. I successfully quelled my excitement and obsession with the universe over the years, but an underlying passion for the films still remained. I loathed Civil War, I adored Guardians Vol. 2, I felt lukewarm towards Thor The Dark World, but in spite of it all I still found myself persisting in coming back to these films, in ever-growing anticipation as to how this entire story, shelled out in "phases" would be neatly wrapped up in a pretty bow for us.
And it was so worth the wait.
It's not perfect by any stretch of the imagination- everything that I thought would happen ended up happening (right down to Captain Marvel), but even then I didn't care. I found myself utterly lost in amidst the adrenaline and excitement that was pouring over every other soul in the theater tonight, joining in exuberant joy over every bit of the story that was laid out for us. It's a tricky story that leaves several questions and a couple hanging threads, and I'm not entirely sure the whole thing should work, in theory, but it's the kind of fun and exciting piece of action entertainment that had me even more giddy than I was back in 2012, watching all these heroes together for the first time.
Endgame is, above all else, a tale about moving on. Let go of the past, what's done is done, you can't change it- only learn from it. You spend years fighting and giving into the urge to dwell on what happened, what could have been, how different things would have been if things had played out differently, but there's nothing more that can be done. All you can do is pick yourself up and keep moving. This overpowering theme is something I haven't really seen in any other Marvel film up to now, and it provides a tactful catalyst for remembering one person in particular I held onto for so many years. Robert was almost like a brother to me- losing him at such a young age gave me an entirely new outlook on life and what it really means for all of us. But one thing he really loved was his Marvel movies. The last thing we ever did together was watch Guardians of the Galaxy, which is one reason I still hold it so dear to my heart even to this day. I can only imagine what his feelings would have been to experience this culmination of more than a decade of commitment and experience.
Endgame's gargantuan 181-minute runtime isn't really anything to balk at- it's a justified length, but not one that you'll really feel if you know what you're going into. It really had to be this long, honestly. How else would the Russos find enough space to fill up this expansive story and tender thank you to the people who endured with them over the years? Different older entries in the MCU are clearly called back to- the elevator fight scene from The Winter Soldier, the heart-pounding confrontation in the climax of Civil War, so many other key elements are brought back in passing or mention that will have you pining for those yesteryears of superhero bliss. Its epic scale only lends further to exactly how and why its conflict gets to where it is, and precisely how the forthcoming plan will be executed in its admittedly nostalgic fashion.
I try not to be one of those overzealous comic book fanboys who constantly spout over why the newest entry is the greatest thing ever made, but Endgame is something that really burrowed into my past and made me remember exactly why I kept sticking with these films through all these years. If my complaint about Infinity War was it feeling like five movies crammed into one, then the best thing about this final entry is its finalization of all those stories leading up to one of the biggest and most anticipated showdowns in years.
Where will Marvel go next? What's to come with Disney's multi-billion dollar franchise in the age of their forthcoming cannibalization of 20th Century Fox? This is the end of the saga, so it would be understandable that people will be eagerly anticipating where everything will go from here on out; and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't curious myself as to what Feige has planned down the road. I doubt they'll be relaxing anytime soon with this, though- acquiring Fox is more than likely a first step in the exact direction they wanted to head in with new Marvel characters showing up together on the big screen. I can't say it's a move I'm happy with, but it's an interesting one, nonetheless.
Endgame is undeniably going to break all manner of records set by its predecessors and other films throughout the years, and for once that's something I'm okay with. I find myself wanting to remember everything about my younger self through this, and a couple revisits before it hits home video is definitely not out of the question. It's no masterpiece- some of the time travel mechanics leave holes in the story and past entries big enough to leave doubts and questions in my mind by its end, but the undying love and care that the Russos put into ensuring that their fans get the longest and best farewell possible is astounding. They've finally redeemed themselves by proving that they actually understand these characters, their connections and motivations, and exactly why they've become so timeless to fans over the years.