Tom Awesome’s Review Score: 9.5
The official summer blockbuster to end all blockbusters is here, as Avengers: Endgame opened this week. Just a touch under under 11 years ago, Iron Man started Robert Downey Jr. and Marvel down a path to this (inevitable) conclusion. The movie effectively closes the doors to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it, while setting the stage for a host of future adventures.
Note: This review is spoiler free. To hear in-depth analysis of characters and plot points, check out upcoming editions of the Outside is Overrated podcast.
Endgame picks up after the events of Avengers: Infinity War with a heartbreaking scene that reinforces the consequences of the previous film. Some puzzle pieces are moved into different places, a degree of closure is obtained, and then the story jumps a few years into the future to show how the main characters are coping with the outcome of the previous film.
The main pillars of the story will be no surprise to long-time fans of the MCU. The tale centers on Captain America, Iron Man, Black Widow, the Incredible Hulk and Thor, with a ton of other characters weaving in and out of the narrative.
The relationship between Cap and Tony Stark once again takes center stage. It starts to follow themes from Captain America: Civil War and Infinity War, before evolving to unite the two to work towards the greater good. Among he rest of the team, there is self doubt, personal acceptance and an prevailing sense of loss.
There are greater themes of loss and heartbreak throughout the film that made me feel genuinely connected with the characters and their plight. The tone is occasionally lifted by funny moments, but the majority of the movie portrays a grim struggle to undo the events of the past.
This is clearly the end of the line for some of the stalwarts of the MCU. I was mostly pleased with how their tales ended, and it will be interesting to see how the universe moves forward.
So who ends up with the gauntlet and saves the day? I’m not going to spoil it for you. I think it is unlikely that we will see a conclusion of this scale again, so I strongly encourage Marvel fans to watch Endgame on the biggest screen possible and savor it. Like the conclusion to a multi-part comic book team-up, the final panels leave you satisfied and yearning for more.
The Good: The movie does a great job of exploring how each of the characters is dealing with loss. There are a number of outstanding battle scenes, including one of a scale that tops the previous scene’s climactic encounter. Everyone you are used to seeing (Cap, Iron Man, Thor) remains excellent, and some have twists that were genuinely surprising.
The Bad: There were a lot of story lines to clean up from the greater MCU, and the tale lends itself to pondering an infinite number of paradoxes and related outcomes. They tried to cram a lot of stuff into the film, and the plot felt cluttered. I would have preferred more tidy endings to story lines over a series of films. Also, I feel like Captain Marvel was set up to have a major role in the film, and I was disappointed by her usage.
The Verdict: Endgame is a must see for Marvel fan, and anyone who is invested at all in the MCU. For non-comic fans, or those who live under rocks and haven’t seen any of the preceding films, it may be difficult to keep the volume of characters straight. It would be tremendously helpful to have seen Infinity War first.