Does Marvel Deliver with ‘Avengers: Endgame’?
In what was originally titled “Avengers: Infinity War Part 2,” we get the much-anticipated conclusion to the most recent 22 Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films…specifically Phase 3. Regardless if you are a deep-rooted fanboy or a casual viewer, you likely know the questions heading into this finale: Can the Avengers defeat Thanos? What role will Captain Marvel (and her pixie haircut) play? Will those who died in Avengers: Endgame be brought back to life? Will Tony Stark/Iron Man make it back from drifting in space? Who will survive this final battle?
We knew this one had to be big, and in fact, it’s monumental. And you can rest easy knowing that all of the above questions are answered quite clearly in this 3 hour epic from co-director brothers Anthony Russo and Joe Russo and co-writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (the same directors and writers behind Avengers: Infinity War and a few other MCU entries).
Marvel has excelled over the past decade-plus by combining interesting characters, understandable story lines, visually stunning effects, and clever humor. This finale offers all of that and more. In fact, it’s difficult to imagine a more perfect ending to this galactic odyssey…and I don’t offer that praise lightly. From the use of Traffic’s classic “Dear Mr. Fantasy” and a gut-wrenching opening scene that yanks us right back into that feeling of dread provided by Infinity War, we know we are in for a ride that is quite a bit more somber and even more emotional than what we’ve come to expect.
The fallout from the Thanos snap is clear as we catch up with Black Widow, Captain America, Thor, and Hulk. Each is dealing on their own terms, and while the Banner-Hulk merger is quite something to behold, trust me when I say, you’ve never imagined seeing Thor in his current state.
This marks Chris Evans’ 10th film as Captain America, and he is front and center through much of the film – as is, in a bit of a surprise, Karen Gillan as Nebula. It makes sense given her ties to Thanos, and Ms. Gillan holds up quite well in the spotlight. Since the previous speculation on time travel and the Quantum Realm, brace yourself for a bit of convoluted talk about how that works, but that’s the closest thing to a negative I have to offer – and even that is offset by numerous punchlines at the expense of Back to the Future and most every other time travel movie ever made.
The theatre was packed with Dallas area critics and industry folks, and there was a significant amount of cheering, applauding and more than a few sniffles. Yes, this one will take you on an emotional journey as well as a visual one. It has an emotional beginning and ending. These are characters we’ve gotten to know over multiple films…and you should know just about every major or mid-major character from every Marvel film makes an appearance, as do numerous minor ones. It’s quite a remarkable reunion. And yes, the brilliance of Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One more than offsets the Pepper Potts scenes.
Creator Stan Lee does get his final posthumous cameo (good for more applause), and there is a ‘women’s movement’ moment that seems to be Marvel’s “we hear you” statement. Much of what we see is “inevitable,” but as the Avengers assemble this last time, we are there to laugh, cry and gasp. This is what happens when ‘over-the-top’ is ‘just right.’