Avengers: Endgame ★★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

As huge blockbuster event movies go, this is immensely entertaining, both funny and heartbreaking, surprising and sometimes weird, sprawling and generous, a sly one-last-ride for the original Avengers team before they go their separate ways and a new line-up assembles (so *that's* why they all coincidentally survived the last movie's annihilation; I'm disappointed in myself for not seeing the motive there until now). It's so full of moving parts - individual character arcs, relationships, different thematic angles, ongoing storylines from past films, new narrative goals to achieve, a responsibility to climax in the most epic way possible and feel like a true season finale conclusion to 11 years and 22 interlocking films in a franchise - that it's hard to stop thinking about it afterward, let alone try to sum it all up in a review.

Since the first of these official team-ups in 2012, the most impressive thing about them has been the filmmakers' ability to juggle a complex, diverse cast of characters, most of whom come from their own movie lineages, and serve them all both individually and as a group, *and* tell a good story in the present, *and* plan ahead for future developments. Joss Whedon did an admirable job the first two times, and then the Russo Bros. took over when this universe was escalating 10x in size, and somehow gracefully navigated four of these monolithic movies to satisfaction. Whatever nitpicks any of us may have (yeah, I got some, and I've heard a thousand other ones over the past week) are insignificant in the shadow of victory here: the Marvel Cinematic Universe has now (figuratively) completed a saga bigger and more consistently high quality (and with astonishing production efficiency) than any movie series in history. If the Oscars were really about celebrating what's special about film, then whether "Endgame" gets any nominations/wins or not is still irrelevant, but it should at least be acknowledged at some point during the ceremony and given a goddamn standing ovation.

Just a couple notes that I must share:

- this movie owes a lot to "Back to the Future" (which it openly admits), "Back to the Future part 2", and "Quantum Leap" (Captain America's decision to retire with his lost love in the past is exactly how Dean Stockwell's Al ended up on that show), three of my favorite things

- the future of Marvel's Avengers movies is a bit uncertain to me as of now because this new wave of people lacks a spark plug wild card like Tony Stark (who was always the most interesting character in this universe). They're all too polite and cooperative, except for the Guardians of the Galaxy but they shouldn't have to be the only ones. I'm sure one or two other folks will be retconned with flaws later in order to introduce some chemistry but I miss Tony already.

- holy long bench, the amount of celebrities in this movie has to be a world record. I counted 18 people who have been nominated for Oscars (9 who have won). They bring back far more people from past Marvel films than you expect, plus a surprisingly flattering role for Rene Russo, who previously never even really registered in the MCU.

- yes, two cameos from the alumnus of "Community", where the Russos spent many years directing. Yvette Nicole Brown and a silent Ken Jeong (I can't help believe that the choice not to give him any lines was a meta joke on how annoying we all know him to be. Annoying and funny/likable but still). This is comparable to how Lord & Miller continue making micro-references to "Clone High" in their big movies: vindication for great shows that never got enough of an audience to live comfortably like they deserved. Just to indulge for a minute here, to me there is no better TV series out there than "Community". It is the alpha and omega of my personal tastes. It struggled to survive during all 6 of its seasons, and remains far less recognized by the general public than its NBC siblings at the time like "The Office", "30 Rock", even "Parks & Rec" is probably more famous.

Now, however, "Endgame" is on track to be the largest grossing movie of all time. It's everywhere. I probably don't even need to tag this review for spoilers because after 6 days of release, who hasn't seen it? Anyone? The Russos not only worked closely with Dan Harmon to make "Community" as special as it was, but they actually scored the job to join the MCU and direct "Winter Soldier" directly because of their work on the season 2 finale of the show (a two-parter, and a high point of the entire series, if you ask me). So the fact that the biggest movie ever was made by the guys who helped make "Community", and that they even throw in two casting winks as a reminder is, in its own way, kind of like that show being avenged at last. Everyone who sees "Endgame", who loves "Endgame", who talks all week about "Endgame", is also cheering for "Community" in a roundabout way.

Therefore by transitive property of congruence (don't fact check my algebraic proof there), this movie is the crossroads of "Back to the Future" and "Community", aka my favorite movie and my favorite show. I get a big dorky private thrill from that. The End.

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