In May of 2008, a little movie called ‘Iron Man’ started the summer movie season with the pleasant surprise of Robert Downey Jr. in the role of his life. Everyone knew it was something special, but nobody knew what it would lead to. A few years later, Marvel Studios managed to turn Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Captain America (Chris Evans) into household names, by looking at them through the lens of classic genre based storytelling. Then, they pulled off the magical feat of taking these popular characters and throwing them together for the first ever superhero team up movie. These Avengers were a glorious success, and Marvel has used the good will created from that film to introduce a plethora of characters over the last decade. These films have managed to touch the hearts of millions around the world, make over 18 billions of dollars, and fundamentally change blockbuster filmmaking along the way.
Then, last year, they tore out all of those devoted hearts they had spent the last decade touching by delivering a film that finally allowed a villain to be victorious. And this was no light victory. In ‘Infinity War’, the mighty Thanos (Josh Brolin) managed to wipe out half of the population of the entire universe and that included half of the heroes we have grown to love over the last few years. So, the question on all the fans minds for the last year has been exactly how are they going to bring these characters back? What will they do to avenge the fallen heroes we loved so much, before they were strikingly taken away from us with the snap of a finger? ‘Avengers: Endgame’ is the answer to that question and the closing chapter of a Saga that has spanned 11 years and 22 films. Most importantly, it is the most satisfying conclusion to any continuous storyline that I think I’ve ever experienced in my life and its ending is literally one that I have dreamed about for nearly a decade.
The opening of this film pulls no punches. It hits you right in the heart, and that attack on your heart is the Russo brothers main play in this ‘Endgame’. They want you to feel so much more than just the punches and kicks. They want you to feel the weight of decisions and the consequences of actions. They want you to be rewarded for participating in this grand journey that Marvel has taken you on for the last decade. And they want you to revel in the nostalgia of experiencing your favorite characters in situations that are designed to make them confront something inside themselves. Where many other Marvel films dealt with politics or the military industrial complex, this one knows exactly what has driven audiences to their local theaters for all these years.
We may have all been wowed by the spectacle in these films, but what kept us all coming back were the characters, and the family that they became along the way. That family was torn apart by Thanos, and this film is about picking up the pieces that were lost. Yet, as much as it is about correcting past mistakes, it’s also about moving on to the next chapter of life. I wish I could illuminate much past this particular sentiment, but ruining the surprises of this film would do the audience a great disservice. Marvel has done a fantastic job of revealing little more than the opening of this film, and that is how it should stay.
What can be revealed is that this film delivers in just about every way a blockbuster can. It has hilarious moments, moments of amazing spectacle, crowd pleasing moments, and moments that will bring audiences to tears. In fact, there are a lot of moments that will bring audiences to tears from either heartbreak or sheer exhilaration. If there is one thing that can be said about ‘Avengers: Endgame’, it’s that even casual viewers are in for an emotional rollercoaster ride. Die hard fans may actually be exhausted by the emotions that are sure to surge up inside them for the final hour of this epic, but almost none will come out complaining. Many in my screening of mostly film critics, were screaming, clapping, and crying in equal measure for much of the run time. Which is about as rare a sight in a press only screening as a Democrat who listens to a conservative or a Republican who believes in climate change. However, it’s the kind of rare thing that puts a smile on your face.
Which is exactly what most everyone will have when they leave the theater. Yes, it might be through a sea of tears, but you will walk out of the theater with a smile on your face and you will talk about all the breathtaking or emotional moments that touched you over the course of the last three hours. You will laugh about the jokes, mourn the lost, and smile as you describe that moment where something happened that made you feel like a ten year old kid again. Experiences like ‘Avengers: Endgame’ are the reason we go to the movies in the first place. It’s a film that begs to be experienced on the big screen and rewards you for giving your precious time to what it has to offer. It’s a rare thing to have a saga end so perfectly, and even more rare to experience a closing chapter to a film series where you’ve spent this much time with your protagonists. Marvel has invested a lot in these characters, and this ‘Endgame’ is the payoff to all that investment. So, if you are one of the five people still on the fence about seeing this film, don’t be. ‘Avengers: Endgame’ is the mother of all superhero films! And the biggest event of the decade!