This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
trillietitan’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
The culmination of more than a decade of work and over twenty films worth of material, the Russo Brothers' Avengers: Endgame was met with a legitimately unprecedented level of anticipation-- and somehow, it met those expectations.
The MCU as a whole is almost undeniably the most impressive cinematic feat in the past couple of decades, at the bare minimum. While I don't personally think most of the films are particularly impressive (even within the context of spectacle cinema), it's hard to argue that the idea of managing such an ambitious project is essentially unheard-of-- and any praise that Kevin Feige has received for doing so is well-earned to say the very least (though some-- myself included-- have some well-founded concerns about its long-term impacts.).
But in my opinion, a near-equal amount of praise should go to Robert Downey Jr. I've already established my thoughts about his importance to the MCU (and subsequently, cinema as a whole) in my review of Iron Man, so I won't repeat myself here. However, one could argue that at its core the first three phases (or the Earth-bound side, anyways) of the MCU were Tony Stark's story, first and foremost-- and his billing for the film and importance to its plot would seem to back that up.
From his near-death in Thanos' derelict spacecraft on, there's really no debate who the film's main character is. After the five years have passed and his family has begun, it would be easy for Tony to say no to risking anyone else-- but that was never going to be an option, and the prospect of Ant-Man's time-travel was something only he could truly understand. (Banner had obvious difficulties). The audience knows the weight of the decision on Tony's mind, and evidently he was readily prepared for its outcome (though that scene will come later).
I appreciate how much of this film is dedicated to repairing Tony's relationship with Cap, because the events of Captain America: Civil War were way too grievous to write off entirely. Thankfully, they'll spend most of the film together, and even go back further in time than any other pair to get closure on some of the biggest questions in each of their lives. And all of the time dedicated to Tony goes to good effect, too-- by the end of the film, his sacrifice is devastating. Even though I don't think the MCU typically handles emotional moments very well, I'd be lying if I said Tony's funeral isn't particularly heartbreaking.
Naturally, Tony's slightly disproportionate impact to the MCU doesn't take much away from the rest of the Avengers-- and thankfully, the majority of this film is spent with the original team. Before the time heist, we see most of them in very dark places-- Hawkeye was particularly broken by the Snap, Cap is hosting survivor's groups and Thor became a shut-in, while Nat and the remaining survivors struggle to keep the remnants of the Avengers afloat.
Of course, the other big emotional moment of the film comes with Natasha's death. Her and Hawkeye fighting over who will be the one to sacrifice themself for the other is a fitting end for either, though it seems fairly obvious what route they were going to go. Either way, her death is more effective than I would have initially thought it would be-- even if it usually takes until the surviving Avengers are by the lake to really get to me.
This is definitely one of the best looking Marvel films, too (which it obviously should be). While there aren't many moments that wow me the same way some of the stuff in Thor: Ragnarok, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, or Doctor Strange might, there's a handful-- and even though it's a shade less creative than those films, it's still a genuinely jaw-dropping project. The Russo Brothers also finally figured out how to shoot an action scene, too-- because even though it's still a little choppy for my tastes, this is one of the more impressively choreographed MCU titles to date.
I don't really feel the need to address any individual scenes (everyone's already discussed this to death), but I do think I should probably at least talk about Portals. While I vehemently disagree with some of the hottakes going around (like the people who insist it surpassed the Ride of the Rohirrim-- because it didn't), there's no denying it's among the most epic of the decade-- and unlike something like the conclusion of Rise of Skywalker, it actually lived up to its potential.
Overall, I don't think that Avengers: Endgame is a masterpiece the same way other people might, but I do think it's a landmark film all the same. Now where's my fucking Asgardians of the Galaxy?
On a side note, there's a way darker read of the film's opening when viewed in a vacuum. I mean, before the twenty minute mark a band of eight supersoldiers travels across the universe to assassinate and dismember a retired farmer. It's not a good look.