One year ago, Marvel left us with one of the biggest cliffhangers of all time at the end of “Avengers: Infinity War.” With a snap of his fingers, Thanos had wiped out half of all life in the universe, leaving the surviving Avengers (and viewers) stunned. Now that the long year between films has finally passed, we at long last get to see what our heroes are going to do about it in “Avengers: Endgame.” The first film set a rather high bar when it came to skillfully threading together a plethora of storylines into one action-packed and dramatically-satisfying story, but will directors Joe and Anthony Russo, along with screenwriters Christopher Marcus and Stephen McFeely, once again be able to deliver the goods, and thus bring the whole grand affair to a satisfying enough conclusion that will please the millions of fans who’ve been holding their breath for the last year?
As mentioned, when last we saw our heroes, they were in a rather rough spot. After Thanos (Josh Brolin) wiped out half of the population, the best everyone could do was try to cope and move on. Five years on, Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) helps keep watch over things with a few others, while Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) helps run a support group. Meanwhile, Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) has tried to cope by becoming a renegade of sorts. Everything appears to be as normal as it’s going to get until the unexpected arrival of someone who was thought to be killed in the snap, someone who just might have a way of repairing the terrible damage that Thanos did a few years back. Of course, it doesn’t take most of our heroes long to jump at this opportunity, even if the odds of success are extremely infinitesimal.
Now that’s about as vague/non-spoilery a synopsis as one can possibly give for a movie like this, with the goal here being to avoid any specific details for the rest of this review, so apologies up front if some of it sounds just as vague. As we jump into “Avengers: Endgame,” one really has to appreciate the epic nature of this entire two-parter, and the terrible strain it must have put on the filmmakers to bring it home after the incredibly successful first film. Everyone knew that this was not going to be an easy story to wrap up, but they did their best, and now all has finally been revealed.
Right off the bat, it has to be said that this is an emotionally-satisfying conclusion to this grand venture, featuring many moments that tug at the heartstrings, plenty of chuckles, and, of course, more action than anyone could ever want in a film. That being said, it also has to be said that it’s not quite as good as the previous outing, but it would seem the obvious answer to that is because there were a lot of characters (unavoidably) missing. This, in turn, made it feel as though the three-hour runtime was just a little more than it needed, seeing as how there were far fewer characters to concentrate on (as opposed to the 149-minute “Infinity War,” which had everyone). That’s not to mention the feeling of it being a little padded out, especially in the beginning as it goes around showing where the various Avengers are.
However, looking at the story itself, it’s pretty clever and exciting in terms of the direction that the writers decided to take it. Again, I don’t want to mention specifically what they do, but the master plan provides a lot of fun moments, and room for plenty of cameos (including the final appearance of the late, great Stan Lee). This all leads up to a massive final battle (as these films always seem to do) that, while it does become a bit monotonous after a while, still provides a lot of thrills and a marvelous catharsis.
While there are indeed a lot fewer characters to focus on this time around, Marcus and McFeely are once again to be applauded for being able to devote plenty of time to each of the characters left behind in skillful fashion. In the same vein, the Russos deserve their accolades for once more being able to get all of this epic craziness on the screen. What all of these filmmakers, along with the cast and crew, have done is no small feat. In terms of scope, it’s doubtful Marvel will ever be able to top what they’ve done with these two “Avengers” films. Looking back at the other MCU films, they’ve been fun to watch for the most part, but none of them had really felt like “event films” until “Infinity War” and “Endgame.” Bringing all of these characters together was always the ultimate dream of every comic book fan, and this, like the previous film, will no doubt please those who’ve been waiting for so long to see it happen.
This does ultimately beg the question of where the MCU goes from here, but more specifically it makes you wonder what’s next for the Avengers as a whole. Are there more films to come in this series? Are we just back to more individual adventures for now? Phase Three is nearly at an end (“Spider-Man: Far from Home” is coming out soon), and there’s already a plan for Phase Four, but we don’t really know quite yet what that will entail. We know of a few sequels in the works, but don’t really have an idea of what it will lead to next. We’ll just have to wait and see how it unfolds over the next few years. However, after seeing what we ended up with for the massive conclusion of this phase, it seems safe to assume that it will be something worth waiting for. 3/4 stars.