Avengers: Endgame review – every other comic book film can only be second best

Avengers: Endgame basically ends the debate about the best comic book movie. It’s a three-hour epic seemingly designed for the sole purpose to be as gratuitously fan-pleasing as possible. And I mean that as the highest possible compliment.

Fair warning — this is a movie you must see with as little advance information as you can manage so don’t expect a ton of details in this review. I was tempted to just write variations of ‘this is the most awesome-ist movie ever!!’ for 500 words until I figured I could do a little better. But not by much.

I will say I went into Avengers: Endgame fully expecting this to be a great film. Now I’m trying to decide if it’s my favorite film — comic book or otherwise. Empire Strikes Back and The Godfather have been tied for my all-time favorite film, but I think now they’re tied for second place. I’ve attended a lot of press screenings over the years, but none where the audience was so constantly geeking out from one surprising scene after the next.

Endgame has been billed as the conclusion of the first three phases of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Even with that head’s up you’re not going to be prepared for anything that happens. Those 15 or so trailers and TV spots we’ve seen over the past few months? Don’t believe them.

Directors Joe and Anthony Russo teach a masterclass in misdirection here as the trailers offer little insight as to what you should expect.

When last we saw The Avengers and their allies, they’d failed in their efforts to stop Thanos (Josh Brolin) from assembling the Infinity Stones. Thanos made good on his promise to wipe out half the population and now is time to pick up the pieces. Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), War Machine (Don Cheadle), Nebula (Karen Gillan) and Rocket (Bradley Cooper) are all that’s left of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and the Guardians of the Galaxy.

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Losing their friends in Thanos’ decimation has been hard. Knowing they can’t do anything about it is even worse. Unless there was a way to set things right… and how can Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) play into this desperate gambit?

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OK, that’s it for my synopsis. I refuse to spoil anything else on that front.

Finales can sometimes be tricky to nail. Return of the Jedi couldn’t quite match up to the majesty of Empire Strikes Back. The Godfather Part III wasn’t in the same stratosphere as the first two installments. Aliens3, Superman III, The Hangover Part III…you get the idea. That’s not the case with Endgame, which is so incredible it provides a new sense of appreciation for what Marvel Studios has done over these past 22 films.

It’s funny without trying too hard. Emotional without being manipulative, daring with the right amount of suspense and epic in the scope that only a few films manage. Basically Avengers: Endgame is everything you wanted and so, so much more for the conclusion of this series.

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Endgame writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely have written some of the key films in the MCU saga (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War) but they saved their best for last with a script that pays homage to every film that’s led to Endgame. It’s a daunting task, but seriously just do a marathon of the 21 films before watching Endgame. You’ll thank me for it.

The best thing MCU head Kevin Feige did was hand the keys of the overall direction of the franchise to The Russo Bros. They’ve delivered repeatedly and this is going to be their career defining work. The Russos show such an amazing comprehension of what made Marvel Comics fans fall in love with these characters and stories and bring them to the big screen to expose them to a wider audience.

Endgame delivers on so many fronts with the most satisfying final acts I’ve ever seen in a film. There was nothing I wanted from the film that didn’t occur and it was like a Thanos snap to my expectations.

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In the next few weeks, I’ll probably write a spoiler-heavy review, but I really want everyone to experience this in its full spoiler-free glory. Just know you’re in for possibly the greatest cinematic ride ever with this one.

Rating: 11 out of 10

I broke the scale for Infinity War and this one shatters it again.

 

Rating: Walt Disney Pictures

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