The Marvel Cinematic Universe is perhaps one of the most impressive accomplishments in the history of cinema.
Regardless of what one’s opinions are on superhero movies, it is undeniable that crafting a beloved universe over the course of 22 films and smashing box office records in the process is an incredible feat. “Avengers: Endgame,” which was officially released in theaters on Friday, is the culmination of all of this hard work on the part of Disney and Marvel Studios.
After last year’s “Avengers: Infinity War” proved to be a massive success, expectations for this new film were incredibly high. It has, after all, been marketed as the finale for this era of the MCU.
Even though Marvel films will continue to be produced after “Endgame,” the implication has been that the landscape will be changed significantly, with not every hero making it out of this movie alive.
The basic plot synopsis should be clear to anyone who has seen “Infinity War” — in the wake of the devastation that the main villain, Thanos, left behind at the end of “Infinity War,” the remaining Avengers must do whatever it takes to save the universe and those who have fallen.
Anything beyond this description would open up the risk of spoilers. This is a movie with many twists and turns — even people who have grown accustomed to the structure of superhero films will very likely be shocked by the choices “Endgame” makes, even in its first 10 minutes.
In contrast to its predecessor, which brought characters such as Thanos, the Guardians of the Galaxy and Spider-Man in the spotlight, “Endgame” is squarely focused on the original six Avengers. This helps to give the franchise a sense of closure, as these were the six who started it all. Now, they are going to get one last moment in the spotlight.
As is expected from the MCU, there is a sense of lightheartedness throughout “Endgame.” This actually ends up becoming one of the movie’s flaws.
Considering that “Infinity War” ended on such a dark note, “Endgame” is perhaps a bit too humorous. There’s nothing wrong with moments of levity, but when jokes and one-liners are constantly present in the face of mortal danger, it definitely takes away some of the tension.
That being said, the truly emotional moments in this movie do land, especially in the last hour, which is a massive spectacle that feels very rewarding for fans who have watched this series from the beginning.
Here, there is a sense of genuine danger and high stakes that other Marvel films were lacking. It’s a shame that at certain points excessive humor gets in the way of this tension, but it is not a big enough issue to ruin the entire film.
Another potential issue is this is very much a movie made for the fans. The first two-thirds are essentially a love letter to Marvel and filled to the brim with references and callbacks that will make no sense to those who aren’t as well-versed in the universe as others.
Although the argument could be made that people shouldn’t be watching this movie if they aren’t already fans, it does make the story feel a bit hollow when it focuses primarily on references to past movies for the majority of its run time.
That being said, the last hour of the film is such an emotional ride that it makes up for any of the movie’s shortcomings. Even for people who aren’t fans, the sheer visual scale of this movie’s finale will be dazzling.
And for those who are fans, expect to be hit with some of the most emotional scenes the MCU has ever produced. Marvel has certainly delivered on its promise of this movie being a game-changer, and it could easily serve as a finale for anyone who wants to take a break from superhero films after watching it.
“Endgame” does beg the question of where Marvel will go next. To try and create an event bigger than this would be futile — nothing can top the scope and anticipation surrounding this final installment and “Infinity War.”
It would be best for the franchise to take a different route going forward, focusing on smaller conflicts rather than galaxy-wide threats. Marvel can still continue to do great things after “Endgame,” but they need to be smart about their approach.