Avengers: Endgame was the event of the decade ultimately leading to Marvel Studios’ 22nd film becoming the highest grossing film of all-time. Expect plenty of home video records to follow suit as this might be the most anticipated Blu-Ray/DVD/4K release ever.
Endgame had all the ingredients of a massive hit. It was the payoff for last year’s stunning Avengers: Infinity War, which featured arguably the biggest cliffhanger in any Hollywood blockbuster. Thanos (Josh Brolin) was successful in gathering all of the Infinity Stones and wiped out half of the population. Only a handful of the Avengers remain with Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), Rhodey (Don Cheadle), Rocket, Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), Nebula (Karen Gillian) and Okoye (Danai Gurira).
After a shocking and gut-wrenching opening act, the Avengers get a second chance to make things right and do whatever it takes to stop Thanos once and for all. Directors Anthony and Joe Russo prove more than up to the challenge of this major payoff thanks to their previous efforts on large ensembles like Captain America: Civil War and Infinity War. There’s no shortage of feel-good, humorous, incredibly emotional and action that closes the gap from comic page to big screen. Other directors could have handled Endgame, but it’s unlikely any could have done it on the level of The Russos. For full thoughts on the film itself, visit my earlier spoiler-free review.
This Blu-Ray release is one of several we can likely expect over the years celebrating this milestone achievement. The first version is a good starter point and all the casual fans would need. Die-hards will happily grab whatever new features are released. For now, this more than gets the job done.
Disc 1 offers the film itself and an audio commentary with The Russo Brothers and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. Even if you’re not big on commentary tracks, this one is very insightful in terms of learning more of the filmmakers’ thought process and giving some more details in the characters’ arcs. It helps that this foursome has been responsible for four of Marvel’s top five films and can offer a detailed look at bonds like Captain America and Black Widow.
Here’s a look at the various features.
Pepper and Tony in the kitchen before get goes to get Morgan for lunch. Cute, but unnecessary since it works better to have Tony “introduce” us to Morgan instead of Tony and Pepper mentioning her earlier.
Bombs on Board
Rhodey and Cap on plans to retrieve the Tesseract. Since we had so few scenes with Cap and Rhodey alone this would have been worth including. It certainly wasn’t long enough to be a real issue.
Suckiest Army in the Galaxy
In this unfinished sequence largely due to the extra CGI for Rocket, the team revisits the battle of New York against the Chitauri. This scene really should have been included as well if for no other reason than Stark’s response to Rocket.
You Used to Frickin’ Live Here
Thor and Rocket in Asgard. This is the scene where one of Thor’s key lines from the first Endgame trailer actually occurred. Outside of that novelty it’s nothing special. Also, the CGI Rocket model is the original Guardians of the Galaxy version.
Tony and Howard
An alternate take of Tony’s final conversation with his father. Just a snippet really and one that doesn’t add a lot.
Avengers Take a Knee
After Tony’s deaths, the Avengers take a knee in homage to one of their founders. I’m glad this scene didn’t make the final cut since the actual funeral scene is far more effective.
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Remembering Stan Lee (7:00)
This is an expanded featurette from the teaser we got with the Avengers: Endgame “re-release.” It’s an interview with Lee, the co-creator/architect of so much of the Marvel Comics universe.
Lee is a natural and never lost his incredible charisma. That’s evident from the interview segments or from the behind the scenes interactions with the various MCU actors and directors. The reverence the filmmakers hold Lee is obvious and he’s got this disarming, playful charm that he uses to demystify his mystique. It never works, which is part of what made him so special. It’s fitting that Endgame marks Lee’s final MCU cameo as it’s the ideal conclusion for those special nods to one of the most influential creators in pop culture history. And don’t feel bad if it gets you choked up, it’s such a well done feature that almost seems guaranteed to hit you in all the feels.
Worth Watching? Definitely. It’s an emotional, feel good piece looking at the culmination of a guy’s lifelong work getting to enjoy it in a way he previously only dreamed would be possible.
Setting the Tone: Casting Robert Downey Jr. (5:25)
It might be hard to imagine how risky and out of the box back when Downey Jr. was cast as Iron Man. He’d been making a small comeback on lower tier films after a long run on TV show Ally McBeal and was poised for the role that would catapult him back to the superstardom he’d seemingly squandered back in the 80s. This feature includes interviews with all of the normal talking heads from Kevin Feige, Iron Man director Jon Favreau as well as key Avengers performers Evans, Hemsworth, Johansson, Ruffalo, Brolin, Paul Bettany and Brie Larson.
Sarah Halley Finn, casting director, also shares some early screen tests showing how not casting Downey Jr. would have been a bigger risk for Marvel Studios. Downey Jr. also shares some insight both from early Iron Man interviews to Endgame interviews.
Worth Watching? This could have been a five minute love-fest, but it’s informative in showing how Downey’s casting influenced the rest of the MCU casting calls and the impact it made on Hollywood.
A Man Out of Time: Creating Captain America (12:18)
Feige describes Captain America as the backbone of the MCU. No argument here. He also credits screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeeley as having as much to do with the character’s onscreen success as anyone. Ryan Meinerding, Marvel Studios’ head of visual development, breaks down the design process and how the story of Captain America was told through the costume changes.
The Russo Brothers share how Meinerding was tasked with creating images for the films, which were largely unaltered from his original drawings.
Finn explains what was key for casting Cap and how Evans exhibited all those qualities they wanted, right down to his reluctance to sign on. Johansson, Chadwick Boseman, Sebastian Stan in Civil War era interviews discuss the importance of the character. Evans also appears in Endgame interviews to reflect on his journey while Downey Jr. summarizes his performance as becoming part of the culture as this symbol of Captain America.
Worth Watching? It’s the longest featurette, but totally worth it to understand why Cap and Evans essentially became the biggest player in the MCU following Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Black Widow: Whatever It Takes (7:25)
In Iron Man 2, Avengers, Winter Soldier, Age of Ultron, Civil War, Infinity War and Endgame interviews Scarlet Johansson breaks down Black Widow’s journey from an Agent of Shield to leader of the Avengers while teasing the standalone movie.
The Russos also frame Widow’s exploits and her sacrifice as the most heroic thing in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Worth Watching? Eh, you could skip this as it’s largely recycled interviews and lacks the long-term insight from Feige and any of Johansson’s co-stars.
The Russo Brothers: Journey to Endgame (5:01)
Evans kicks off by saying how much he loves The Russos. He could speak for thousands of MCU fans. Feige talks about how they elevated the MCU and why midway through Civil War, Marvel Studios wanted them to direct the next two Avengers films.
Ruffalo, Gurira, Larson, Chris Pratt, Tessa Thompson and Tom Holland speak on their investment in the characters and the challenge of juggling two films at once.
Downey Jr. wraps it again by saying how much the Russos love the Avengers.
Worth Watching? Yes, but this was really a featurette that could have been triple the time and still not have felt long enough to spotlight the directors of the biggest movie of all time.
The Women of the MCU (4:52)
For all the women-haters who cringed at the A-Force-like scene in Endgame, this segment features interviews with Johansson, Gurira, Larson, Evangeline Lilly, Elizabeth Olsen, Letitia Wright, Gwyneth Paltrow about coming together on screen.
Marvel Studios Vice President Victoria Alonso discusses the importance of representing women in the workplace while the Russos mentioned the realization of all of the amazing female characters in the MCU.
Worth Watching? The excitement of performers on set and reflecting on that moment was fun. It also could have benefited from another five-10 minutes.
Bro Thor (3:42)
The Russos and Hemsworth look at Thor’s fall to self-pity and redemption. Hemsworth breaks down the process of the fat suit and its comfort level.
Rudd, Thompson and Feige explain how the role could have easily just been played for laughs, but Hemsworth makes it work while the edits play up the laughs.
Worth Watching? This is the briefest featurette, but it’s the right amount of time especially since this isn’t a farewell to the character like some others.
Gag Reel (1:58)
A very brief look at some of the goofing off on set. Really too short to be of much value to anyone.
Walt Disney provided this Blu-Ray to Lyles Movie Files for review purposes. Avengers: Endgame is available now on digital and on Blu-Ray/4K/DVD on Aug. 13. Order Avengers: Endgame now on Amazon.com