Avengers: Endgame

Avengers: Endgame ★★★★½

This is it, the grand finals.

Avengers Endgame is a dazzling piece of pop entertainment that serves as the MCU's legacy curtain call, at least for me anyway. This is the '77 Star Wars of a generation who grew up with these characters for over a decade. It's a big hearted, sprawling, fan servicing, mess of a movie packed with loving callbacks, heartfelt send-offs and a half dozen of the most satisfying character moments gathered through a connected series of films that have roused a generation of fans raised on earnest heroism.

Is it perfect? No. None of these films are "technically" perfect. This one is a retread of some familiar ground, but it moves with the style and confidence of an adventure epic reaching its peak. For fans of this series, this may represent the most gratifying experience for them as it concludes a vast saga that has taken up a large portion of their cinematic journey.

Hats off to the creatives responsible for this extravagant payoff. Directed with a ruminative humanity by the Russos, the first section of this 3 hour epic is almost action free and pretty dour. The heroes left behind after Thanos completed his mission, effectively dusting half the universe into ash, are left trying to pick themselves up and reorient themselves to a new way of life. Cityscapes look abandoned and the ones inhabited are left with giant stone monuments of "the missing".

Details such as this crucially set the stakes and make us feel the enormity of the loss that our heroes suffered. Thor goes into a self imposed carb binge after having failed to waste Thanos when he had the chance, and the rest of the remaining Avengers try to act out their prior duties of protecting what remains of the world. Tony Stark settles down with Pepper Potts and now has a 5 year old daughter. Hawk Eye, after having lost his family during the snap, resorts to a vigilante Ronan style killing spree. Amid the 5 year gap between then and now, Bruce Banner has come to terms with his Hulk alter ego, largely AWOL in Infinity War, but here has become one with his intellect and is now afforded the best of both worlds. He gets to be a giant green powerhouse with a big ol' brain. Scott Lang (Paul Rudd is always terrific), stuck in the quantum realm since the end of Antman 2, reemerges 5 years later with everyone he loved missing. The gap was only a few hours for him being that time works differently there.

The story enters full sugar rush mode in the midsection of the film, as the Avengers reassemble for one last mission to right the wrongs, and undo the damage That Thanos did. And you know what? I went with this section. We are treated to a new perspective on many of our favorites bits in prior adventures. Characters get a chance to work through past trauma and settle their consciences in ways that will break your heart and make you fall in love with them all over again.

Can I give this film its due credit for keeping the surprises waiting in the 3rd act under wraps so well? Seriously, thank the Marvel overlords that we don't have the first clue what will happen. Screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely are back at on the job and they sprint us all over the galaxy, to Vormir looking for the soul stone, to New York, and to a few planetary locations from the more cosmic entries in the series.

The returning directors are the Russos and they are more adept here at spacing out the conflict and navigating this behemoth into the harbor. Even at a whopping 3 hours, this film is infinitely more fluid and fleetfooted then it's direct predecessor. It handles its gargantuan roster nimbly. The Russos sample a little bit of every directorial style, from the close quarter combat scenes of their Winter Soldier entry, to the massive armies clashing in Infinity War, to the free and easygoing banter scenes that floated around in Thor Ragnarock. The film almost strains as it catches every sporadic and creative use of heroic powers in the climax. I haven't seen a summer crowd as wild and raucous as I did at the premier of Endgame. Everyone was invested.

I was with this long building, universe spanning dash across the universe from the moment Tony Stark put on that metal suit to the moment Endgame reached it's heartfelt and resounding conclusion. This series has certainly had it's peaks and valleys. And if you aren't Marvel vested by now this film will probably only give you the surface satisfactions. The love and emotional texture on display here is immense, and earned.

I'm not going to say this is cinematic perfection, but it certainly IS a fully realized piece of pop art that speaks to an era of heroes. And there is nothing remotely wrong with that. It's heartening to see that a series finale that goes for the heart and soul in such an earnest way. Its been a joy.

Mad props

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