It all comes down to this. After more than a decade, and 21 prior films, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (partially) closes its doors with “Avengers: Endgame”.
Like most respected critics, I will be following the protocol of Disney, Marvel, the cast and directors Joe & Anthony Russo: #DontSpoilTheEndgame. I’m not going to give away core plot details.
But I will say that the surprises start coming not long into the 3-hour “Avengers: Endgame”. This is likely not the movie you thought you were going to see, as the Russos (who previously helmed “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, “Captain America: Civil War” and “Avengers: Infinity War”) divide the film into three different genres.
The first hour or so is a dialogue-driven drama: quiet, somewhat drawn-out, but fairly effective. Then, the Russos place the living superheroes into a category that has been tackled on-screen time and time again. In fact, the Avengers who survived The Snap of Thanos (including Iron Man, Ant-Man, Thor, Cap, Black Widow, War Machine and The Hulk) reference many of the past films in said genre when contemplating their future plans.
This allows “Avengers: Endgame” to become a Greatest Hits compilation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If you’ve loved EVERY MCU movie to this point, there’s no reason why you won’t love “Endgame”. If, say, the “Thor”, “Doctor Strange” or “Guardians of the Galaxy” films weren’t your cup of tea, there are certain sections of “A:E” that you might struggle with.
For the most part, the hits strategy works, resulting in fun, crowd-pleasing and sometimes emotionally moving scenes. However, there is a major script flaw, pivotal to the story, that’s tough to ignore.
But, what most people will celebrate and cherish from “Endgame”, is Act 3. The Russos change direction yet again, with an action spectacle unlike anything we’ve ever seen. It delivers the climactic moment of the franchise. “Endgame” becomes the film Marvel and MCU fanatics have been waiting for their entires lives.
And the three hour run time is a non-factor. No good movie is ever too long.
This film has one of the biggest casts in motion picture history. And each core character is given a proper amount of screen time. It’s reasonable to assume that some do “sign off” for good, but exactly who is for you to find out.
Before signing-off on this review, I want to go back to where it all began. I remember walking out of 2008’s “Iron Man” knowing that Robert Downey, Jr.’s dynamic performance as Tony Stark was going to re-ignite his career and change the movie world forever. This is arguably the best casting of the 21st Century.
In “Endgame”, Downey, Jr. gives his best performance since the original “Iron Man”. His snarky comments feel fresh again. His emotions (pain, anger, curiosity, joy) are palpable. And he brings it all home in a way only he can. “Black Panther” broke boundaries last awards season for Marvel superhero films. Awards shows have infamously ignored some of the most iconic performances and characters in cinema, but it’s not too late for RDJ & Stark to finally have their moment in that spotlight. Downey, Jr. deserves strong consideration for this performance and I, for one, will be championing him.
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “Avengers: Endgame” gets a B+.
Running Time: 181 min.