Movie review: Avengers: Endgame

The plot arc involving the infinity stones comes to a spectacular conclusion

Avengers: Endgame
Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo
With Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Brie Larson, Karen Gillan, Danai Gurira, Bradley Cooper, Josh Brolin

The long wait is finally over. Avengers: Endgame brings to a close the 22-film-long journey that began with in 2008 with Iron Man.

More films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe are planned, but those will be part of a new era.

People who saw Avengers: Infinity War last year were left with a lot of questions about how the remaining Avengers would fix everything that has gone wrong. Frankly, people who haven’t seen Infinity War and at least a few of the other films along the way will be completely baffled by Endgame.

The filmmakers have cautioned critics not to reveal what happens, and film-goers likely would rather see it for themselves anyway.

Avengers: Endgame clocks in at just over three hours long. It could have easily shed about half an hour but the rather leisurely opening act allows the audience to get settled in for the inevitable CGI-filled conflicts in the later part.

The film is structured like a good firework’s show, with impressive visual scenes being quickly outdone by bigger and louder ones following shortly afterward.

People have largely guessed based on clues from Ant-Man and the Wasp and from Captain Marvel, as well as the Endgame trailers, part of the direction of the plot.

The main surviving characters — Iron Man / Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Rocket (Bradley Cooper), Nebula (Karen Gillan) and War Machine (Don Cheadle) — try to carry on in the shattered world left behind after Infinity War.

Years pass, but the pain of loss seems to get no better. Ant Man finally gets freed from his situation at the end of Ant-Man and the Wasp, and introduces a crucial idea. This, and who the major characters would be, was fairly obvious from the trailers.

That idea is a stepping stone to allow the plot to return to key locations from several of the past films, providing a visual summary of the past decade and even glimpses of past characters.

Many of the individual Avengers have grown a bit world weary, and would rather retire, accepting the defeat of Infinity War, than plow on into a plot that sounds harebrained at best. Ant Man doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye looks particularly bedraggled, and a major character has completely gone to pot, the subject of many jokes.

The trademark Marvel humor is still there, but under the circumstances a lot of it is intentionally flat. One character even tells Rocket, the wisecracking raccoon, to cut it out.

One of the better sections has a running gag with people arguing about the accuracy of Back to the Future compared to Timecop or Hot Tub Time Machine.

Fans have been left to speculate for a year about how the survivors would undo the events of Infinity War. The solution that the film finally offers is perhaps a bit too simple.

Some of the characters even offer better ones, only to be told that it wouldn’t work.

The simplicity of the solution means that the drama has to come from the Avengers messing up its execution. This again emphasizes that the superheroes are flawed.

The perhaps underwhelming plot does create some intense action and drama, and truly sad moments for those invested in particular characters. But there is a feeling that it could have been just a bit more clever than the expected giant CGI confrontations.

There are no brief scenes hinting at the future in the end credits, emphasizing that this is the end of the line.

Technically, Spider-Man: Far From Home, coming out in July, is part of this phase of Marvel Cinematic Universe films, but it looks like it will be more of a footnote, telling an isolated story rather than adding to the preceding infinity stone events.

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