Released: April 26th, 2019
Intro: Avengers: Endgame is the second to last chapter of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe’s Infinity Saga. It is the culmination of over 20 movies before it, and set to wrap up all of the stories relating to the Infinity Stones and pave the way for the next saga of one of the most successful franchises to exist. If that isn’t enough pressure to be one amazing movie, I don’t know what is. Thankfully, it succeeded meeting my expectations and, in some ways, surpassing them. It has its flaws, but overall it is a fun movie with a lot of memorable characters and scenes. Like Infinity War, this review will mostly be a recollection of my favorite scenes and character moments. There will be spoilers.
Story: In contrast to the previous film, this one opens with a slightly more heartwarming scene showcasing the newfound comradery between Tony Stark and Nebula. I always enjoy in movies and TV shows when a character such as a cyborg or alien who is not as familiar with average human culture (slang and hobbies, for example), it put into a situation where they form a bond with a human, the two now forced to learn how to interact together. Watching Tony trying to teach Nebula the concept of fun with a paper football makes me grin every time, followed by ‘aww’s as Nebula declines nourishment to give Tony a little extra.
It doesn’t stay that way for long and things seem rather grim as time passes but the appearance of Captain Marvel is a welcome addition. While she is overconfident in her abilities, she has every right to be, and I enjoyed seeing her take Thanos by surprise on his home planet. The entire scene is intense as we discover he blipped the stones out of existence. This was a plot point I didn’t see coming; I originally thought it might come to a gauntlet from the past facing off against a gauntlet of the present after some time travel, but no. It left me wondering all kinds of things instead.
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During production, there were several shots of the cast in their original movie attire and scenery, and I loved the way they revisited these set pieces during the time travel journey. We ended up with a good balance of places we had seen before and places we had not yet seen but fit right into the puzzle nicely.
One of my absolute favorite scenes in the film is also one of the mot heartbreaking. The death of Black Widow. It was sad enough seeing Gamora killed for the soul stone in the previous film, but I had grown much more attached to Natasha over the course of the MCU films, so her sacrifice hit me harder. I loved how she and Hawkeye actually fought each other over who would make the jump of doom, but in the end, it truly was fitting that it was she who died. Hawkeye had a wife and kids; she did not. Essentially, she was leaving only her comrades behind, and her respect for Hawkeye and her love for him (as a friend) shined through. I also tend to think that she held out the most hope of anyone in the film that they could undo the snap, and I think by making that jump she further proved her faith in her friends to see the mission to the end. I am pretty sure there was not a dry eye in the theater when the same music Gamora’s death was gifted with began to play and the camera panned over her.
After some more scenes we get to see the snap is finally undone, but they don’t even have time to celebrate before Thanos from the past comes in and starts destroying things. It leads up to the start of my favorite part of the movie – the war of the Avengers against Thanos.
Watching Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America get to face off against Thanos was pretty awesome. They are three of the major players in the MCU since the beginning, each one spawning 2 sequels from their introductory films, so it was fitting that they get the spotlight for a moment. Now to be fair, they did sort of gummy up the power strengths a bit; in Infinity War Thor was able to throw his axe at Thanos even when it was being zapped by the fully powered gauntlet, and here he got owned just as much as the other heroes despite Thanos having no gauntlet at all. I can overlook that though in the sheer case of awesomeness.
Finally we see the rest of the Avengers show up in a pretty epic entrance as just about every single character arrives just in time for the big fight. Yes, I verbally cheered in the theater when Wanda Maximoff came onscreen. She also got one of the coolest one-on-one moments fighting Thanos. They exchange a couple very quick quips before she just starts wailing on him with her powers, throwing chunks of debris at him and slamming him with telekinetic bolts one after the other. He tries to take her down with his double ended sword, but she grins and breaks it in half before telekinetically grasping him and lifting him into the air. As she’s lifting, she starts taking pieces of his armor off, and she probably would have finished him off had he not ordered his ship to start firing its cannons.
After coming down from the high of Wanda kicking butt, it was totally awesome to see Captain Marvel show up again. All of the females backed her up to cover her while she flew toward the time machine to return the stones to their original timelines, and again we got to see a cool clip of Wanda tearing up one of those gigantic whale monsters.
Tying for most emotional scene in the movie comes Tony Stark’s final moments. He snaps Thanos and friends out of existence, and then quietly dies embraced by his wife and closest friends. It was filled with sadness and relief all at the same time and was followed up by a somber funeral scene, every Avenger in attendance to say goodbye. The entire sequence is exciting for the team’s win but seeing him pass on knowing he is leaving behind a wife and kid is saddening. All of the actors did an amazing job here and they really did convey the feelings of loss into the audience.
Characters: For the first two thirds of the film, there were far fewer characters to juggle this time around. What I liked is that again, as with Infinity War, they each had their own moments to shine and their own growth. The challenge for the actors was portraying these characters directly after the snap, a little less than a month after, and five years after. Each one of the team ended up in a very different emotional state than they started with, and the cast did a great job of portraying that believably.
Some of my standout characters were Thor, Iron Man, Black Widow, Hulk, Captain America, Rocket, Nebula, Gamora, Hawkeye, Wanda Maximoff, and Thanos. These characters, sans Wanda who is on the list just because she’s my favorite character and got a cool fight scene, had key roles in the story and showed those huge shifts in their lives so well. Thor as a depressed demigod who goes from gorgeous hunk to an overweight alcoholic is funny to watch but at the same time anyone who has experienced loss can relate to his extreme way of dealing. Hawkeye had an equally extreme method of handling his losses and it was nice seeing that despite his methods, he is still a good guy at heart. The scenes between he and Black Widow on Vormir as they fought to the death were some of the most emotionally impactful moments I have seen in a superhero movie, and as much can be said for Iron Man and the aftermath of his victory snap.
Again Marvel does an excellent job of balancing character moments, bringing forth just the right amount of development with humor and drama. They knew exactly where to hit us in the feels to have the most impact, and they were not afraid to go there. This was a perfect send off for several of the core actors/characters who had been around since the beginning,
Visuals: It is hard to say much more about the visuals that I did not already say in the Infinity War review; it all applies here as well. Once more we see excellent visual effects from beginning to end, especially considering the various environments the cast had to visit. Thanos’ planet was beautiful for the short time we saw it. Most of the past locations looked like they came right out of their original movies, careful detail to costumes and hair being made to keep the continuity going; particularly in New York from Avengers 1.
Costumes were great, especially the new studious look for ‘Smart Hulk’ and the overweight bodysuit for Thor. I like that they kept him looking that way for the duration of the film, not suddenly giving him ‘god bod’ out of nowhere. The time travel outfits were pretty neat and sleek.
If I am going to nitpick, I have to get really nitpicky. I liked the look of Black Widow’s hair with the blonde having grown out and her natural red coming back, but realistically one would think Natasha could afford to dye over the blonde for a solid color. In the end it looked cool so yes, that is being really picky. Speaking of hair, that is still the enemy of CGI as in a couple scenes during the final battle there were badly done CG flowing hair, or in Captain Marvel’s case, hair that despite being super short, seemed to float. None of these things were enough to distract from the movie, however. If SquareEnix and Marvel Studios were to have a baby that creates CGI hair, they could have it nailed.
Sound: I stated in the visuals section that I didn’t have much to say that I did not already say in Infinity War, and that applies here as well. Once more we get perfectly orchestrated scores. I like that they reused the music from Gamora’s death scene for Black Widow’s because of the circumstances and location of their deaths.
Music and sound are such vital aspects to telling a story, and Marvel has the knack for it. They even included the theme played in the first movie when the core team gathers on the battlefield. Mixing past pieces with fresh ones was a wise idea to give us that touch of nostalgia in the past scenes.
Overall: Endgame rivals Infinity War for my favorite MCU film, doing its best to wrap up as much as possible and send viewers through a vast range of emotions from beginning to end. It isn’t overly complicated and a fun romp through the past and an even more fun final battle. The game of keep away they play with the gauntlet keeps the tension high in the battle, and Tony’s final “I am Iron Man” snap was epic. I felt very satisfied with this movie as part of the end of an era without wrapping everything up so nicely that there was not potential for the future. Phase 4 is already underway, and I am excited to see what they have in store.