Of the 22 films in the MCU that began in 2008 with Iron Man, Endgame most embodies intimacy — it is an intensely fulfilling ride that proves personal sacrifice is the true measure of heroism. Don’t expect a quintessential happy ending. Just prepare to be wowed. Endgame is packed with hysterically self-deprecating bits, tear jerkers, prolific matchups and genuinely shocking twists guaranteed to keep eyes glued to the screen and fans on the edge of their seats.
Since Thanos (Josh Brolin) obtained the six all-powerful Infinity Stones and snapped his fingers, the world and the Avengers are left broken. Six of the original Avengers remain: Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) and Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). Honorable mentions James Rhodes/War Machine (Don Cheadle), Rocket (Bradley Cooper), Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) join the Avengers’ quest to restore the world to how it was before Thanos decimated it. How will they do it? Time travel. Yes, you read that right. Don’t worry, the Russo Bros. ensure that the concept of time travel is just as trivialized by our heroes as it will likely be by fans around the world.
Though Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow serves as the team’s initial beacon of hope, Tony Stark/Iron Man feels like the main character in this epic in many ways. He shines in Endgame, which is fitting seeing as his film, Iron Man, kicked off the MCU over a decade ago. While amiably hilarious, Thor, …er, looks different. Captain America plays a critical role as anticipated and Hulk is as lovable as ever. Half of all life in the world has turned to dust due to Thanos’ heinous act and the Russo Bros. spend a lot of time illustrating the lingering trauma five years later. A few scenes could have been cut to achieve a shorter run time but scenes like Captain America leading a survivors’ support group and Hawkeye’s post-Infinity War life choices truly underline the devastating aftermath of the Infinity War.
There’s a battle similar to Infinity War’s final clash, but with even more heroes! It’s an all-hands-on-deck affair and there are many MVP moments such as Thor in the Wakanda Battle in Infinity War. There are characters that led their own MCU films that have minimal or zero lines in Endgame but everyone’s presence is vital. The Russo Bros and Co. heeded current cultural climate and by including impactful odes to both girl power and Black Panther.
The three hour and one minute runtime was crafted masterfully, nearly every moment is used well. It’s messy and I am prepared to read multiple think pieces over analyzing the paradoxes and pitfalls of the time heist plot, but, for now, it feels like a satisfying culmination of the MCU.