AVENGERS: ENDGAME review by Mark Walters – Marvel’s mightiest heroes avenge their fallen

AVENGERS: ENDGAME review by Mark Walters – Marvel’s mightiest heroes avenge their fallen

Marvel Studios has already conquered the box office for 2019 thanks the overwhelming success of CAPTAIN MARVEL, which despite hate campaigns against its star Brie Larson managed to do exceedingly well and defy all expectations. But Marvel has always had pretty great success with their films, which officially kicked off in 2008 with IRON MAN. That movie marked a major comeback and made a bonafide star out of Robert Downey Jr., and opened the door for many more films like THOR and CAPTAIN AMERICA, and eventually the first AVENGERS movie which brought the popular big screen superheroes together and proved Marvel knew the genius behind “world building” on the big screen. People might forget, that was the first time we had seen a big “team” movie that brought together major superhero characters that had each previously had their own franchise films. Since then we’ve had more entries like ANT-MAN, DOCTOR STRANGE, BLACK PANTHER, and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, some of those already experiencing sequels like the predecessors. Last year, AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR managed to bring all of those characters together in a big way to fight Thanos, a powerful cosmic titan who harnessed incredible power by collecting various power gems, attaching them to a gauntlet, and ultimately wiping out half of the life in the universe. It was a cinematic ending that left the audience and loyal fans with a major emotional gut punch. And for an entire year, we’ve been left to wonder how they would resolve this story. The obvious observation is that when major name superheroes like Spider-Man and Black Panther are wiped out after each of them just having major big screen solo film introductions, you don’t honestly think they’re going to stay dead, do you? This weekend we get that answer in AVENGERS: ENDGAME, which may just be the most incredible comic book movie ever made.

Please note, it’s VERY hard to talk about a movie like this without giving away just a few minor story details, so if you don’t want to know anything about the plot, skip past the next two paragraphs if you must, just know the plot recap I give here only covers maybe the first half-hour of a three-hour movie, and even then I’m skipping over major details…

We pick up almost exactly where the last film left off. Thanos (Josh Brolin) has used the Infinity Gauntlet and stones to snap his fingers, and wipe out half the life in the universe. Major heroes have literally turned to dust while others watched helplessly, and across the world entire families have vanished without warning. This has devastated the planet, and the remaining heroes are left stunned and without much hope. Thanks to Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) sending out a distress call on a modified beeper (shown in a post-credit scene in INFINITY WAR and referenced in CAPTAIN MARVEL), the cosmic superheroine Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) comes to earth to meet the remaining Avengers and find out what Thanos has done. The group tracks the mad titan’s location to a planet in the far reaches of space, and decides to go after him in hopes of undoing his heinous actions. Their interaction does not go well, and they may have lost their only chance at fixing their situation.

Five years pass, and the world is now a quiet and broken place, though there are glimmers of positivity. Captain America (Chris Evans) tells Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) that with less boats in the New York harbors, whales are starting to show up… perhaps this is a commentary on overpopulation or pollution of the ocean, but it does make you think about how the world might change if half the population instantly vanished. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has tried to restart a new Asgard on earth in Norway, though it looks like just another quiet fishing community to the casual observer. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) is now living full time as the Hulk, as he’s managed to take over the monster’s mind and be both big and green while also being intelligent and level-headed. Everyone has sort of moved on, reluctantly, until they receive an unexpected visit from Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), who has been stuck in the Quantum Realm for all this time (shown in the post-credit scene of ANT-MAN AND THE WASP), and may just have a solution to their problem. But it’s complicated, involves time travel, and is something that will take the entire remaining team working together to accomplish.

Okay, end plot synopsis. And believe me, that’s about as basic as I could make it without spoiling anything majorly cool. There is so, so much going on in this movie to fill the three-hour plus running time, it’s genuinely hard to tell someone when would be a good time to pee… so maybe skip that large soda this time. I mean it, I took note every time a press member ran to the bathroom during our screening, and it’s honestly overwhelming how much important stuff they missed in the few minutes they were gone. Co-directors Anthony and Joe Russo continue to show how smart they are as filmmakers, mixing effective drama with gut-busting comedic moments, all with occasional emotional beats that will absolutely get to you, and none of it ever feels out of place or forced. Even when you sort of know what’s coming, it just feels right and perfectly timed, almost as if these guys know exactly how the audience wants it to play in an almost psychic execution. INFINITY WAR was very much Tony Stark’s movie, this one is all about Captain America/Steve Rogers, and it’s a brilliant way to wrap up that excellent story arc in a rather unexpected way. If Chris Evans never won you over in any of his previous outings as Cap, chances are this movie will make you a fan for life.

Another thing this film does is cleverly tie together all of the previous Marvel Studios movies in inventive ways, almost like listening to your favorite band playing all the hits at a killer concert, but adding bits of new flare to each song. We also see the return of some characters you might not expect, even smaller supporting characters from previous films that shows an incredible attention to detail when it’s all said and done. Some superhero movies leave you wanting more, but ENDGAME delivers so much that chances are you won’t be able to think of anything that’s missing… it’s all there, exactly the way it should be, and it’s all very fun and exciting. The focus on each character is handled well too, with everyone getting their moment to shine without too much spotlight on any one personality. Captain Marvel is used well, but sparingly, which might be a smart movie since she’s still very new to the MCU – but when she’s on screen, she’s awesome, and Brie Larson feels perfect in the role here. One character that gets considerable screen time is Nebula, played well by Karen Gillan, a character that has been carefully developed in the GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY films, and really comes into her own through this production. Jeremy Renner is back as Hawkeye, and for those missing him in INFINITY WAR, not to worry, he’s all over this movie in very cool ways.

Everything about ENDGAME feels just right, like an amazing final book in a series of novels that feature characters you love. The first two hours of the film are filled with exposition, and the time travel elements definitely get a little convoluted, but the movie knows exactly when to check itself and slow things down for a breath. The time travel plot points in particular offer a lot of humor, even involving the characters referencing almost every time travel movie ever made… and how most of them are wrong. With a story as heavy as what this production is delivering, the comedy beats are a great assist, allowing the audience to not take things too seriously and just enjoy the ride. Some of the things they do with characters breaks away from what we’re familiar with, and they really commit to it, but boy oh boy does it work, even when you think it probably shouldn’t. Even Alan Silvestri’s pulse-pounding score is superb, perhaps his best music to date for the Marvel films, and cleverly incorporating cues and themes from the previous movies. This is a cinematic buffet of greatness, a comic book movie that feels like it should in every possible way. As a fan of these stories, particularly the Thanos tales and Infinity Gauntlet story line by Jim Starlin (even HE gets a cameo in the movie!), I’m extremely pleased with what The Russo Brothers have delivered… and as a comic book fan in general, I feel like I finally got the movie I’ve always wanted. Perhaps the only negative I can think of would be enduring the first two hours or so of the film on repeat viewings, as it would almost be painful having to wait for the incredible last act, which will undoubtedly blow you away.

AVENGERS: ENDGAME opens April 26, 2019

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About the Author

Born and raised in Dallas, Mark has been a movie critic since 1994, with reviews featured in print, radio and National TV. In 2001 he started the Entertainment section of the Herorealm website, where he contributed film reviews and celebrity interviews until 2004. After three years of service there, he started Bigfanboy.com, which has become one of the Dallas film community's leading information websites. Bigfanboy hosts several movie screenings in the Texas area, and works closely with film and TV studios and promotional partners to host exciting events and contests. The site also features a variety of rare celebrity and filmmaker interviews, and Bigfanboy.com regularly covers the film festival circuit as well. In addition to Hollywood reporting, Mark has worked for many years as an advertising and sci-fi/comic book artist. Clients have included Lucasfilm Ltd., Topps Trading Cards, The Dallas Mavericks and The Dallas Stars. From 2002 until 2015 he managed the Dallas Comic Con, Sci-Fi Expo and Fan Days events in the DFW area. He currently catalogs rare comic books and movie memorabilia for Heritage Auctions, and runs the Dallas Comic Show conventions, but remains an avid moviegoer and cinema buff.