It’s been a little more than a week since the release of likely the biggest movie ever to be released in the history of cinema, and that week has given me time to digest my thoughts.
So these are my thoughts on every moment I had an opinion on in the movie, fully in-depth, and fully through giving away the entirety of the plot. This is a review strictly for those who have seen “Avengers: Endgame,” or to those willing to be spoiled of everything and anything.
You’ve been warned.
“Endgame” opens on a jaw-dropping, soul-crushing note with the discovery that Hawkeye survived the snap, but at the cost of losing his wife and kids. For a movie of such a large scope to start with a scene like this truly prepares you for how much Anthony and Joe Russo were able to do right with their direction.
Immediately, the movie does the impossible: it makes itself feel small and personal. With hundreds of characters and so much to unpack in this three-plus-hour epic, this opening shot is haunting and is something the entire audience can immediately sympathize with.
From there, I loved Tony Stark’s moments with Nebula while barely surviving in the middle of space, again bringing minor personal moments to the forefront in the biggest blockbuster of all-time. This eventually leads to the remaining Avengers meeting Thanos on his newly found home planet, and leads into one of the smartest decisions the Russo brothers could have made.
Around 30 minutes into the movie, Thanos is dead, and “Endgame” is all the better for it. In the year of trying to figure out where this plotline would go, this never was the idea, and it made for another 150 minutes of nonstop surprises from here on out.
The following portion of the film is probably the slowest in the film, but only if I had to pick one. I think there are a lot of smart moments here that I love — seeing Tony with his new family and Ant-Man’s return to the world were both fantastic in their own right — but here is where I would shave off a few scenes if I had to.
Here is also where I originally said I thought a joke eventually became stale, and that joke is with chubby Thor. Thor is overweight and drunk for a lot of his screen time here, and that makes for some terrific comedy, especially with Korg thrown into the mix. But on first watch, I wish he had snapped out of it a bit faster. The second watch made me think less of that, because, for one, he can’t just become muscular in an instant, and because he isn’t drunk by the end, just out of it and wanting to make things right, another dynamic I think the film explored well.
It may not go over quite as well as the new Hulk, which peaks when he is sitting in the trunk of a truck with Rocket, but still, I don’t think I would change anything about Thor’s arc here.
How “Endgame” goes about finding the Infinity Stones is excellent, and serves as the perfect level of fan service without ever feeling forced or clunky. This, of course comes with all the remaining Avengers being forced into past moments of movies where the stones are most conveniently located.
All of these are great, and all of them serve a purpose further than just getting the stones. I could go through all of them, but this review would be even longer than it already is, so I’ll just talk briefly about all but one.
I absolutely love the Cap v. Cap fight in New York, the conversation between Hulk and The Ancient One, as well as a beautifully heartfelt moment between Tony and his father, Howard, that has some of my favorite writing of the entire film. But where the Russo brothers did it again was with the Soul Stone, and forcing Black Widow to sacrifice herself and save Hawkeye.
This moment has plenty of ups and downs and a ton of heart, and it just goes to show how much the MCU has done a fantastic job to get us to care about every single member of this team.
These scenes in the past also allow the perfect runway for this movie’s villain: Thanos, but from before he has captured any stones. The genius in this movie has really captivated me since seeing the film — Thanos is the MCU’s best villain, and “Endgame” brings him back in a more motivated, more villainous style than from “Infinity War,” all while not changing anything about his storyline.
Thanos’ new storyline also went to show how well Nebula has come along as one of the strongest-developed characters from front to back, after seeming like a mere sideshow throughout both “Guardians” movies.
This all leads to the final act, which had the tallest task of anything this movie had to offer. And yet, it still feels like the part of the film that exceeded its expectations the furthest. This starts from the very beginning, where there is a brief moment of light with Hulk’s snap.
It’s a stunning minute with a gut-wrenching call from Hawkeye’s wife, but it is immediately taken aback by a barrage of fire from Thanos that, again, is expertly timed.
Everything about the proceeding fight is true perfection, starting with the fight between Thanos and the trio of Iron Man, Captain America and Thor. The highlight here, and nearly of the entire film, is Cap picking up Thor’s hammer, something that has felt long overdue, and yet still managed to make my jaw drop in total awe. This scene is perfect, absolutely perfect, but even more perfect is the moment that follows.
Seeing those who were in the Soul Stone come back to fight in one gigantic final battle is pure art at its finest. The moment is beautifully shot, has a stunning score to back it and all while managing, as the Russo brothers have done so well throughout their reign, to get every major character involved seamlessly.
I loved seeing Spider-Man’s run with the gauntlet, Tony work with Pepper, and Valkyrie join the fun of this chaotic fight. Again, when it seems like “Endgame” could pull a “Justice League” and make the fight too easy, Thanos seems up to the fight, nearly winning at multiple times.
A highlight move for Thanos was taking off the power stone to beat Captain Marvel with it. But not to be outdone, Captain Marvel takes a headbutt from Thanos without flinching, something that was equally fantastic.
But of course, even with all of these amazing, well-crafted moments, it would mean so much less if it wasn’t finished with a bang. Fortunately, Robert Downey Jr. is up to that hefty task, because his performance in his final scene is superb. Watching Tony Stark take the gauntlet and fully sacrifice himself to save everyone is perfectly executed, and is the best way to send out a character that has meant so much to this fan base for the past 11 years.
Gwyneth Paltrow also brings the emotion in a big way during Tony’s final moments, as does Tom Holland as Peter Parker. There is so much to love about how this death, and proceeding funeral is handled, especially with the “love you 3,000” callback in Tony’s death video.
Not to be outdone, “Endgame” ends in the most personal, minimalistic way a film like this could have. Captain America goes to put all the stones back in their place, and then decides to go back in time to enjoy life with his true love: Peggy Carter. This scene, from Steve giving Falcon the shield to the final shot of him embracing Peggy, is brilliant, and shows how beautiful such a grand movie can be.
So, to recap, this is the best movie the MCU has ever made, and has made my top 3 superhero movies solidified with this, “The Dark Knight” and “The Incredibles.” The Russo brothers pull off pretty much everything here, as does the entire cast.
This 100 percent should be a Best Picture nominee at the Oscars, and hell, throw in some performance noms for Downey Jr. and Evans if you want. The screenplay should be recognized, the score should be recognized, this whole damn film needs its proper recognition.
Few movies of this scale could ever pull off equal parts excitement and fun with dread, sorrow and pure, raw emotion, but “Endgame” did that and more.
This is the blockbuster film that people dream about, so make sure you enjoy it while it lasts: there may not be a film like “Endgame,” for a long, long time.