MCU

Avengers: Endgame review — The awe-inspiring finish to an 11-year story

Avengers: Endgame lives up to the hype, exceeds Infinity War and opens the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s next phase. Potentially minor spoilers are ahead.

The present is frightening. It throws the unexpected in your face at any moment. The future might be scarier, as Doctor Strange foresaw in Avengers: Infinity War, which opened the book for theories on the anticipated Avengers: Endgame.

The past, though, is nostalgic — sometimes. There are moments in time you wish to relive the glory days of or to redo the regret. It’s normal. It’s natural. Just not possible in the real world.

Endgame is a pleasant service for that fantasy, however, especially for the fanatics of a specific film, which was referenced at least once as Earth’s Mightiest Heroes conducted a theory speculated for the past year. It became the focal point for a while and the chance for a proper celebration of the past 11 years. This was special and it even unwrapped moments, albeit small, to peel the curtain back on the classics.

It’s not just the known. The unseen is uncovered in another way, creating unexpected, nostalgic moments — ones the audience never knew existed — for these beloved characters, not just the moviegoers. Humanizing and heartfelt, the moments hit home for anyone wishing to spend one last instance — to have a dream-like conversation — with someone never thought to be seen again via expired time or tragedy.

Nostalgia is not just about this unnamed arc, though. Granted, multiple characters were involved in that, but the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s standard bearers — the ones who anchored the ship — took over: Captain America and Iron Man.

Two beloved characters shared the screen early, often and to the end. It did not thrash the events of Captain America: Civil War, which had one of the MCU’s most dramatic moments, but with the world at risk, and after a specific amount of time to think it over, these two pushed their differences aside for the greater good.

Enjoy and embrace the Tony Stark and Steve Rogers characters, because their stories are the Endgame. Thor, another original Avenger, is to a degree, but the Russo Brothers ensured who’s movie it was, and that clarity, when there were countless moving parts, made this special.

Speaking of the God of Thunder, his Infinity War arc was maybe the best story the MCU ever told. It was triumphant, as he overcame the odds of losing everyone: his mother, father, brother, sister, best friend and home planet. He nearly killed Thanos, and failing that arguably enhanced the journey because it showed just how unstoppable the Mad Titan was.

So why change Thor’s narrative in Endgame?

He became this too-often, sometimes cringy comedic character. Maybe the Russo Brothers saw what Taiki Waititi did with Chris Hemsworth in Ragnarok and preferred that over the Infinity War role, or there was a desired change of pace and that is okay. The physical adjustments, however, to someone who seemed like the MVP of the MCU threatened to reverse this. Frankly, it was a dangerous route, but the gargantuan cast size and each main player’s story managed to hide this.

The Hulk underwent a similar route. A hero who should impose became this goofy figure, but like Thor, there were better moments for this Original Avenger in Endgame. Thankfully, too, the Natasha Romanoff romance angle was not mentioned. It never felt organic, and the Russos only let them have that meet-up moment in Infinity War before moving on. A proper call.

Speaking of the Black Widow, her 2020 movie is no secret. Marvel Studios might not announce anything until July, but Avengers: Endgame dropped enough hints to tell the audience what’s next, and this blockbuster went out of its way to make Natasha as heroic as ever. The curious part of the film’s eventual promotion will be how it is introduced in teaser trailer clips.

Rejoice, Hawkeye fans, because Clint Barton is all over this film. He is interconnected with longtime MCU buddy Natasha, and viewers no longer have a reason to complain over his use. if the Black Widow movie is a prequel, the fourth Avengers movie dropped an obvious hint of where Clint fits in.

Moving away from the general scope on the characters, the Russos do everything they can to make each minute meaningful. Yes, there is a chance to break for the bathroom and race back to your seat, but make it fast, because tidbits that lead to the end are littered. And good luck leaving for even 15 seconds in the final hour, which contains an incredible final act that is the best thing the MCU has ever produced. Not in the “I am Iron Man” sense, but the pieces align perfectly and the greatness might even create watery eyes of joy.

Appreciate it, embrace it and relive it upon watching again, as there will be nothing like that final act ever, in a movie. That will be the nostalgia fans think of when breaking down the MCU in another 10 years, depending on where everything stands.

There is the past. There is the present.

What about the future?

The MCU will live beyond Avengers: Endgame, and it left questions for most of the characters that lived. Disney Plus might have answered part of this weeks ago, but the streaming service set to launch in this fall did not uncover everything. Take that for what it’s worth because one program now has a game-changing arc to cover.

Seeds for the future were planted and sporadically spread across the three hours, but none of it overshadowed the action like other MCU productions have fallen to. Spider-Man: Far From Home as the true end to Phase Three should add clarity, since it is the final piece of clarity in Disney’s money-making universe. Avengers: Endgame offers an idea of what should be next, but revealing that might spoil the movie.

So as the past is nostalgic and the present throws the unexpected, the future is nerve-racking because the MCU will look different in its next 10 years, given the literal and metaphoric “ends” of things. The box office results for these films will ensure this lifespan, but new characters are ahead and familiar faces will take unfamiliar larger roles. It will refresh everything, and as long as the films are quality offerings, fans will retake their seats at the nearest theater.

Next: 100 greatest superhero stories

Avengers: Endgame is the movie for all superhero fans to see. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime event to witness, and for those not interested in the supernatural, flock to the theater for the cohesion and storytelling.  Balancing so much in a long, fast-paced film seems impossible and the concept might have disappointed some in the film’s lead-up, but the Russos accomplish this, making it the best MCU film ever.