Well, here it is. It did happen. I said in my review of the previous year’s Avengers: Infinity War that I was puzzled as to why the editors of the Book chose to include that film, instead of just waiting to include Endgame the following year. Well, it makes sense now; they combined the two into a single entry. It really should’ve been obvious, in hindsight. Still, that Avengers: Endgame was included will largely make this review a retread of Infinity War, since the two films share a lot in common, especially in terms of strengths and faults. There is a certain degree of difference, though; where Infinity War was the huge-spectacle, massive-space-battle, explosively-epic half of the conclusion of the franchise up to that point, Endgame’s half is more about actually wrapping up things (storylines, character arcs, etc), as well as serving as a love letter to the original six Avengers and a sendoff to what has largely been their story up to now. Sure, the MCU isn’t over, and there will be more films after this, but this is the end of the first major franchise-spanning narrative arc, and as such the filmmakers needed to make this work in exactly the way it needed to finish. And, excusing the vernacular, holy fuck did they ever wildly succeed.
Of course, going into this film will mean going into detail about previous films in the franchise up to and including Infinity War, which means mild spoilers will be here for anyone who hasn’t yet caught up to– oh, who am I kidding; everyone’s seen this.
The universe is reeling after the events of Infinity War, as the Mad Titan Thanos’ actions have left half the universe mourning the loss of the other half. No one is more in grief than the Avengers, those who survived the Snap at least, and everyone remaining is desperate to make an attempt to reverse what has been done. Fortune favors them in the return of Scott Lang from the Quantum Realm, who brings with him an idea of potentially using said realm’s properties outside the normal laws of the universe to travel back in time and stop the Snap from happening. Since time travel carries with it inevitable consequences, the plan eventually evolves into traveling back to specific points in time, stealing the Infinity Stones from those points, and bringing them back to the present to assemble a new Infinity Gauntlet and undo the Snap themselves. You can tell what this means; plans somewhat go awry, we revisit a lot of the past moments and events of the Avengers’ histories, and everything ends up in one massive battle for the future when Thanos rears his ugly head from the timeline once again. So, basically, going into Endgame, what this needed to be was a big love letter to the franchise so far, the characters we’ve come to know and love, a resolution to the storyline as we know it, and still contain a lot of fan-service moments that, hopefully, won’t come off as just fan-service moments. In all of this, all of these regards, Endgame functions absolutely perfectly; we go back and revisit some of the best moments and settings of the franchise, character arcs come to beautiful finishes, there is spectacle and amazing visuals abound, and every moment that fans have wanted to see (along with plenty they didn’t know they wanted) is here without sticking out as an obvious and jarring inclusion just for the sake of fan service. Really, that this film works the way it does, and how it is written, while still including everything it does include and then some, is absolutely mind-boggling; once again, first kudos have to go to the screenwriters for what they manage here. Even with the film being three hours, it completely needed to be, and it never feels like it just because there’s so much that has to go down for this to be the finish it needs to be. Even those who would want to watch a film like this for its character moments have plenty to enjoy, mostly in the first third of the film and a little in the second during the actual time heist itself; and then, of course, there’s the third part, which can’t be talked about without gushing over everything about it in terms of rewarding the fans of the franchise for being the fans they are. Marvel had the biggest bar to clear in the history of moviemaking with this, and that this isn’t just not a disappointment, but literally everything a fan could want this to be, is stunning to an uncountable degree.
This is the part where I either figure out whether to recommend this to people (even just a small group of people), or I try and figure out where on the ratings scale it should go and for what reasons. For a film like this, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I could possibly say that some people just won’t be for this film, or I could say something to an effect for the people who wouldn’t have otherwise seen it. But, no. Screw that. This is Endgame; you’ve seen this, you know you have, and regardless of whether you liked it or not, this film is absolutely everything it had to be and what the fans wanted it to be. It is beyond mere recommendations or reasons to excuse certain groups from watching it, and really, anything I could say against having this be the rating I’m giving it is inconsequential to how successful this film is at what it does and for the people it’s doing it for. This film was a landmark event in the history of cinema, and seeing it in a packed theater is one of the precious moments of being a moviegoer that just can’t ever be duplicated. I spoke years ago about how incensed I was at the editors of the List not including the original Avengers film to represent the biggest genre in modern moviemaking. Well, they made up for it by including Endgame, and it was a decision I wouldn’t second-guess for the life of me.
Arbitrary Rating: 10/10