The current phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe comes to an end in a spectacular fashion
Since 2008's Iron Man, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been growing and growing, expanding with new characters, franchises and worlds, and giving us superheroes we have grown to know and love. Now, after 11 years of films, the current version of the MCU reaches its conclusion.
The film takes place after the events of Avengers: Infinity War (as well as the closing credits of Ant-Man and the Wasp and Captain Marvel), when half of all life in the universe was eliminated by Thanos (Josh Brolin). The remaining Avengers - including Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) - try to find a way to bring back "The Vanished".
They appear to have exhausted all ideas when, five years later, Scott Lang /Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) reappears from the quantum realm, where he was stuck, with no clue what has happened to the world - but armed with an idea that might just work.
Avengers: Endgame presents fans with the greatest culmination of storylines ever seen before in cinemas - and that is a pretty difficult challenge - but directors Joe and Anthony Russo have somehow managed to create a film that not only delivers upon the super high expectations put on it, but also surpasses them. They've successfully weaved multiple storylines and brought them all together in an epic and satisfying way that will excite and upset fans in equal measure.
Given the sheer quantity of MCU characters now, it's not surprising that the film is three hours long. But, even though it's was action-packed and there's lot of plot to get through, it did feel long in places, particularly in the first half. There is a lot of set up required to get us to the dramatic, show-stopping end battle, and some of it may not have been absolutely essential, but it's a relief that the Russos didn't cut out all the fun character moments at the expense of all the action.
The film takes a while to get going as it has a lot of character arcs to get in order, and some of the plot is a bit confusing, so it's best to sit back and enjoy the ride and try to figure it out later. It might be solely character-building and setting up for the first hour, which is when you really feel that hefty runtime, but rest assured that there's an abundance of action to come and, when the movie hits its stride, it is thrilling, exciting and so, so tense. Thankfully none of Marvel's trademark humour gets lost along the way, with Rudd, Ruffalo and Hemsworth providing the most laughs.
Fans have been with the main characters for years and want their stories to conclude in ways they deserve, and Endgame mostly gives them that. It was clearly made with the fans in mind, giving them epic moments, team-ups and nostalgia, while serving as a great tribute to the MCU so far. Every character has a moment to shine - no matter how small - but some have more emotionally resonant conclusions than others.
We have seen epic final battles in the Avengers series before, but nothing will prepare viewers for the eye-popping scale of the showdown in Endgame. It is unbelievable that the Russos managed to pull it off in a way that makes sense and is exciting and emotional with such high stakes, and still manage to fit in the trademark humour and character moments all at the same time. It is a sequence that requires multiple viewings to wrap your head around and fully appreciate.
Avengers: Endgame is a truly satisfying and emotional experience for those who have been following these films for the past 11 years. Tissues are recommended.
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