Avengers: Endgame (aka Avengers 4) review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso
11 years. 21 films. That’s how long it has taken to build up to this grand and epic closer of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Oh, sure, there are more Marvel movies on the way, the most immediate being Spider-Man: Far From Home, but Avengers: Endgame truly is the end of an era. Not merely of Phase 3 nor of the Thanos saga but one that culminates in bubbling arcs that have been brewing over the course of a decade. They’re now properly boiled and it’s time to feast on the epic conclusion.
At the center of this crowded closer is Tony “Iron Man” Stark and Steve “Captain America” Rogers. Both of them have issues left unresolved. From the very beginning, Tony has been egotistical, trying to do everything himself and shove others away. By Iron Man 3, he learned to stop being alone in his fears and try to work with others. Of course, that’s easier said than done and he’s spent all of Phase 3 in a constant state of fear left behind from 2012’s Avengers and 2015’s Age of Ultron. He’s still got a few hangups left to conquer and after having an I-told-you-so moment with the rest of the Avengers, he now needs to take that final leap to become a true hero.
Steve has a more internal issue than external. On the outside, he seems to be the great motivator and leader of the Avengers, always devoted and always equipped with a speech to lead heroes into battle. His past still haunts him and he refuses to acknowledge that he’s uncomfortable within this world and that the one thing he truly desires is gone forever. He shares a similar sense of insecurity but it’s one that he can’t keep bottled up, becoming a personal battle to the point where he is literally fighting himself.
If all of this is making the film sound less like a Marvel superhero blockbuster and more of a thoughtful character study, it’s because the Russo brothers have once more proven they can handle juggling multiple and meaningful stories within a towering blockbuster. They’ve been stacking their plates rather high since they first started directing on Captain America: The Winter Soldier in 2014, quickly building with each film a larger cast and grander themes. With Captain America: Civil War, they showcased an all-out hero skirmish amid asking tough questions of vigilante policing. With Avengers: Infinity War, they harped on Thanos as a villain driven by the soul-shattering method of utilitarianism. And now Endgame is a culmination of these many aspects that flourish and finish beautifully.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a closer of an epic without feeling grand and the Russos haven’t let the fans down in this department. They’ve reserved the entire fourth act for the most satisfying of smackdowns that doesn’t disappoint. A battle even more massive than Infinity War with unique parallels punctuates the picture to make its closure of the central figures finding their resolve on a battlefield most big. But I can’t stress enough how well this film works as a character piece as it does a fantasy epic when the time comes for all heroes to assemble. Worth noting is how all heroes react to events of Infinity War differently; some regroup, others change for the worse, and others crumble into depression when they realize how impossible the odds and hopeless their situation.
Not all heroes receive the most screentime or depth, relegating their change to a mere change in armor or hair. But the central figures of Captain America and Iron Man (perhaps even Thor) have such a great dynamic and brilliant arc that draws the final curtain on if not the MCU then at least this fascinating story of conflicting heroes conquering their demons. Are the plot holes plentiful? Perhaps but the central story has always been one that is ripe with inconsistencies though it doesn’t hamper the emotional drive of the picture. It’s ultimately the best Avengers film and one of the finest ensemble superhero pictures ever made, unlike anything that has come before it in scope and character. And if you’re a Marvel fan who has been keeping up on the past 11 years of movies, you’ll be greatly rewarded with Endgame.