Avengers assemble one last time in epic finale
Courtesy of NBC News
WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS.
Seven years after the release of “The Avengers” and 11 years after the launch of Marvel Studios’ “Iron Man,” a core part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) comes to a highly anticipated end with “Avengers: Endgame.” The franchise leaves behind a transformation of the film industry, use of technology and a new definition of what it means to be a hero. It also carries forward a new standard that does not stop with this film: Despite the original Avengers coming to a close, the Universe is only continuing to grow, with 21 films already released prior to “Avengers: Endgame” and five more set to release through 2020. That doesn’t even include the many plans that are in place for Disney’s new streaming service.
“Avengers: Endgame” is an end to this phase of the MCU in which viewers can laugh, cry and say hello again to characters previously lost and goodbye to some of those they’ve come to love in a riveting three hours of action, emotion and a glimpse into the journey that brought these heroes together.
What makes “Avengers: Endgame” both a great closer and new beginning is its intimacy and expansion on themes previously touched on in the MCU: space, time and the effects of losing those you love. This movie combines all three in a unique way, spanning time and previous films as the heroes span the universe seeking to save the population lost to the snap, all while trying to preserve what has been brought about in the process.
For a movie that follows Thanos’ (Josh Brolin) almighty obliteration of half the population, he is removed from the narrative early on; but this movie is written by the writers of the MCU and directed by Anthony and Joseph Russo. Things will certainly not be this easy.
Five years post-snap is not only the time period where this movie excels in pleasing the fans with the comedy they’ve come to love from characters they’ve seen grow, but also seeing them in a state of despair and vengeance, like Thor (Chris Hemsworth), who now has a beer belly, or Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), who is out killing any bad person he can get his hands on with no satisfaction.
It is in their nature that despite however much the remaining Avengers try to move on, they fail to and are unable to truly accept defeat. As Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) puts it, “Some people move on. But not us ... not us.”
The biggest factor in reversing what’s been done is a concept introduced in “Ant-Man and the Wasp:” the quantum realm. By utilizing this with Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey Jr.) incredible brain and technology, the gang successfully manages to time travel to retrieve the stones from the past and, rather than try to fight Thanos in the past, snap everyone back to the present day – five years after the battle at the end of “Avengers: Infinity War” – so nothing they have gained is lost, such as Tony’s young daughter, Morgan Stark.
While some of these sequences seem unnecessary, it creates for more intimate moments, like one between Tony and his dad in a detour to 1970, or Steve seeing young Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) on that same trip.
It is also through Hawkeye and Black Widow’s (Scarlett Johansson) time travel to get the soul stone that the audience must say a heart-wrenching goodbye to a character who redefined the female hero as someone who is allowed to be flawed and discovering who she is while still kicking butt. Black Widow makes the ultimate sacrifice for a stone that requires its new owner to do just that: lose what you love most. It is undeniable how much Hawkeye and Black Widow truly love each other. Love is the only accurate word for the relationship the two have.
Once the stones are back and Hulk initiates the snap to bring everyone back, all seems well, but things go south quickly. Without getting into the nitty-gritty details, Thanos from the past discovers what is happening in the present and with the help of past Nebula (Karen Gillan) posing as present Nebula, the villains time travel into the present for one of the greatest battles the MCU has ever seen.
Rejoined by all those lost, there is no better way to close out this phase than with one epic battle sequence. Not only does this give each character their chance to shine, as well as feature Captain America being worthy enough to wield Thor’s hammer, but it also gives a huge shout out to the female heroes of the MCU, as there is an entire sequence within the fight focused on them.
It is at the end of this battle that the audience must say goodbye to the man with whom this incredible journey began. As Tony Stark reconciles with himself, he is also the one to make the ultimate sacrifice by using the gauntlet to snap Thanos away once and for all, giving up his life in the process. Cue the tears from everyone in the theater, especially because of the intimate moments he shares with Peter Parker (Tom Holland) and Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) before he takes his final breath.
“Avengers: Endgame” is a celebration of the original core that began the Avengers Initiative back in 2012. It is a sentimental and nostalgic letter to fans who have watched these characters grow and flourish, even through the movies weren’t so great, in one epic finale. It is one whose lengthy runtime goes unnoticed as fans accompany these close friends into the depths of the galaxy and beyond.
From beginning to end, “Avengers: Endgame” takes you on an emotional journey to provide a satisfying ending through visuals and effects that seem normal for any Marvel film, but ones that have truly altered the way movies are produced.
As the MCU moves into its fourth phase, for some it is the end, but for others, it is only the beginning of what’s to come.