It finally happened. It’s been a decade in the making — more than 20 films in all — but as of this past weekend, the Avengers completed their “Endgame.”
“Avengers: Endgame” has decimated records as quickly as Thanos snapping his fingers. The film is not only the highest-grossing film of the year so far — a fact it’s likely to maintain — but, it’s also got the largest box office opening of all time. That’s not surprising considering there hasn’t been this much hype for a film since 2017’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” For me, this was even bigger.
After all, I’d been rooting for Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) and the rest of the Avengers for a very long time, and while I wasn’t sure what was coming, I knew it was the end of an era. I wasn’t the only one. As the film’s opening neared, I saw plenty of memes related to the fact “Endgame” was scheduled for the same weekend as the Battle of Winterfell on “Game of Thrones.” It’s a combo savage enough to destroy the gentle hearts of a lot of nerds.
It’s also an incredibly difficult review to write because I want you to be as amazed, awed and heartbroken as I was as you discover each detail on your own without me telling you what to expect. So, I’ll stick to the highlights.
The film picks up shortly after the events of “Avengers: Infinity War” and Thanos’ devastating snap. Half of the universe’s population is gone, and those left behind are hollow and sad. The Avengers who are left behind hatch a plan to try to take down Thanos, which doesn’t go to plan.
Flash forward five years, and the group is a bit different. Steve is speaking at support groups for survivors. Clint (Jeremy Renner) has become a vigilante/assassin. Natasha is coordinating efforts for those still fighting the good fight, including Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), Nebula (Karen Gillan), Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and Rhodey (Don Cheadle). Bruce/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) has become a new fusion of the two characters. Tony and Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow) finally married and have a little girl. And Thor (Chris Hemsworth), well, Thor hasn’t handled things so well.
They’ve all struggled to move on. They’ve tried to find new priorities and live the lives they were lucky enough to keep. But, no matter how hard they try, they’re weighted down by the memories of the past and those they’ve lost. With the aid of Ant-Man Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), the group comes together with one last-ditch effort to right the wrongs of five years earlier.
The details I’m able to reveal at this point get pretty sparse. Fans have been terrified of spoilers since the early previews of the film. I even got fussed at by a co-worker today when another co-worker asked if I cried during the film. The first co-worker was determined we were going to share one detail too many.
As I said before, “Endgame” is the culmination of a decade’s worth of characters that have become family to us. We remember those moments like when we first heard Tony say “I’m Iron Man” or Steve realize he wasn’t a 90-pound weakling anymore. “Wakanda forever” is part of our lexicon now, and we’ll remember with a laugh when Hulk smashed Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and muttered “Puny God.”
“Endgame” pays tribute to many of our favorite moments and so much more. Actual footage from original films like 2012’s “The Avengers” are included, and other films are revisited with a few tweaks like 2015’s “Guardians of the Galaxy.” The film pays tribute to a lot of special moments in the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), which explains its three-hour runtime.
The film also looks to the future of the universe. There’s a moment that occurs near the end of the film when Captain Marvel has an important job — I can’t tell you what — and she’s up against some pretty massive odds. Someone says “she’s not alone” — I can’t remember who — and suddenly the females of the MCU are lining up to help, from Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) to Okoye (Danai Gurira) to Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and everyone in between. It’s a crazy powerful moment and I couldn’t help but smile/cry a little when I saw it.
You see, the MCU has come a long way. This year’s “Captain Marvel” was the first MCU film to have a female lead. Up until then, women were love interests, sidekicks or the token female in a male group. While there have been mini team-ups in previous films, this one felt like it meant something bigger. The women in “Endgame” had a role to play, some big and some small, but they each had a role.
I won’t say “Endgame” is a perfect film. There are plot holes big enough to drive a truck through, and if you try to figure out the “how” or “why” behind some scenes, it’ll ruin the fun. Instead, it’s better to just smile at the nostalgia that pours over you, wipe your tears when necessary and laugh. A lot. “Endgame” has a lot going on, but it manages to weave a story together. It’s full of lighthearted moments, which is hard to believe, but true. There are moments where you’ll laugh out loud, possibly loudly. And there are moments that threaten to break your heart, so bring tissues.
In the end, “Avengers: Endgame” is everything you could ask for in a movie, especially one that seeks to pay off storylines and themes that have been developed over the course of a decade. It doesn’t achieve perfection, but many of the moments are just that.