Note: This review will be 100% spoiler-free. Please post no spoilers, hints, vague references, or anything else in the comments. Failure to adhere to this will result in permanent banning. A spoilerrific post will go up on Saturday. -TK
There’s something remarkable about the entire 11-year, 22-picture run of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Frankly, the fact that it exists at all is remarkable in and of itself. It’s a juggernaut of a concept - 10 different franchises, a series of independent characters or groups that are somehow inextricably intertwined. Sometimes it’s been brilliant, sometimes it’s been crushed under the weight of that forced narrative. Sometimes it’s been the victim of simply poor film-making. But overall, it’s a stunning achievement, unlike anything in cinematic history. Just think about that for a moment: comic books, made into movies — mostly good movies — threaded through with a huge overarching storyline that ties everything together. Yes, it’s been sloppy at times but the fact that it works even slightly? That’s just … wild.
And it brings us to Avengers: Endgame, the final entry in this phase of the MCU, and the doorway into the next one. Creating a fully satisfying, flawlessly executed cap to this massive, sprawling endeavor seems impossible. And in fact, it is impossible. Endgame is not flawless. It does not neatly tie every bow, and it is sloppy as hell in some of its executions. There’s simply too much for even the deftest of filmmakers to weave together into a fully cogent, sensible, neatly packaged film.
But goddamn if it still isn’t great.
I will tell you nothing. Not one thing other than the Russo Brothers took this giant, gloriously messy bowl of plot spaghetti and somehow made something wonderful out of it. It is fully satisfying, even if it isn’t totally sensible. In speaking to fellow Pajiba writer Seth, he said “you could nit it to shreds. But as a cap and look back on a 22 movie arc it was great and fuck the nits of it.” And that’s essentially the best review I can think of. Is it flawed? Hell yes it’s flawed. But the entire process has been flawed in some fashion or another. Some flaws have been glaring (I’m looking at you, The Dark World), some have been insignificant, some have simply been annoying. Endgame, for the most part, avoids both the glaring and the annoying, although I’m sure in subsequent viewings there will be more that we take note of.
But for now? Revel in it. Celebrate it. Brace yourself, for it’s a wild, emotional, exhilarating, celebratory ride. It takes a tiny piece from every film and gives us something to remember them by. The action is thunderous and chaotic, the dialogue snappy and clever. The camaraderie that’s been so present throughout is terrific, making you remember how and why you fell in love with some of these pairings. It’s also funny, a much brighter mood overall than Infinity War (a film that got all its jokes in at the beginning before diving deep into darkness).
Avengers: Endgame is so many things. It is joyous and tragic and exuberant, a completely bonkers spectacle of comic book goodness. It’s a gorgeous mess, a hot fudge sundae with every conceivable damn topping, so much that you feel like you couldn’t possibly consume it in a single sitting, and at three hours in length, that metaphor is apter than one would think. And yet, those three hours flew, almost too quickly. There was no bellyache afterward, only wistful longing, happiness, and a bit of sadness as well. It’s the literal end of an era and the beginning of a new one. And while as a final destination to this long, weird, crazy, bumpy road? It’s like coming back home after a long time away - everything is different, everything has changed, but there’s still a sense of comfort, satisfaction, and joy.
Header Image Source: Marvel Studios