The challenge of writing a review for the latest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Avengers: Endgame, is that almost the whole movie is a spoiler. That said, there are some general things from the trailers and still photos from the film that do provide some widely available clues, so I am taking that route and giving away as little as possible.
Most everyone knows what happened in the previous film – Avengers: Infinity War – it’s safe to say that we start off close to where we left off in that film. Half of the universe has been eradicated by the dastardly purple killer Thanos (Josh Brolin), meaning about half of our superheroes also bit the dust. The world descends into turmoil and change, but humans resiliently move forward with their lives as do our beloved surviving characters.
Those Avengers who survive come together slowly – especially Tony Stark (the always terrific Robert Downey Jr.) and Nebulla (Karen Gillan) who are floating in deep space running out of fuel, food, and oxygen. If not for new superhero friend Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), they would have perished.
Marvel brings them back for a reunion with the rest of the survivors – Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson), War Machine (Don Cheadle), Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Rocket (Bradley Cooper), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Scott Lang/Ant Man (Paul Rudd) and Thor (the quite hilarious Chris Hemsworth) – and they are a bit divided as to how to proceed.
The reunion basically does not end happily – once again Tony and Steve are on opposite sides, and the group goes its separate ways. Five years go by and we discover a few of them think of a plan that involves trying to save those who perished, but not everyone is on board. Some of the characters have moved on with their lives, and after all things seem like they cannot be changed.
Tony, now a father of a little girl (Alexandra Rachael Rabe), and married to Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) is finally a happy man, and he does not want to participate in a mission that could jeopardize that happiness. He’s living in the country, drinking healthy smoothies, and that past life is far behind him.
Eventually Tony comes around – thinking about the lost young Peter Parker (Tom Holland) and joins the team as they prepare a plan that could change everything that happened and bring back their friends. While I cannot tell too much more, I can say that the plan involves funny pairings of teams – the best being Rocket and a now overweight, beer drinking Thor – but that plan is dangerous and involves the possibility of death for all team members.
Directors Anthony and Joe Russo have crafted a film that goes beyond the sometimes pedestrian label of blockbuster – the feel of this movie is more gargantuan, and the sense of enormity runs throughout the movie in the opulent settings and exquisite vistas – cinematographer Trent Opalach captures the stunning beauty of planets along with the bloody horror of war – along with pounding, grinding, and sometimes soaring score by Alan Silvestri.
Writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeeley had an enormous task in creating a screenplay that took the threads and loose ends and brought them all together. Amazingly, the 21 films that came before this one all have some sort of part in the puzzle that they piece together assiduously, though throughout there are moments that will break hearts and cause tears, but that is to be expected in what is truly a fitting denouement for the Avengers films.
Despite its epic 181 minutes, the film goes rather quickly after a slow but necessary first act that puts all the plot’s elements into place. The longer film format actually works in favor of the characters – and there are so many – affording them opportunities to develop in a way that a shorter film would not allow.
The Russo brothers have made this a spectacle that will please viewers who are longtime fans because they will appreciate the touches big and small that check all the boxes, cross all the t’s, and dot all the i’s. The confrontation they have wanted – to stop Thanos once and for all – is just one of the many rewards in this emotional but thrilling cinematic cornucopia.
Go see this film before someone spoils if for you, and it is so large in scope that it is meant to be seen on a really big screen. As usual with MCU films, I suggest you stay until the end of the credits. You may not get what you expect, but you will get something you need – an especially apropos moment that connects with ending of the film.