When we last saw the heroic Avengers in 2018’s “Infinity War,” we were all stunned by the devastating final minutes, in which evil Thanos (Josh Brolin) got a hold of all six of the Infinity Stones and snapped his fingers, causing half of the world’s population to be killed. Many of the key MCU players, including Spider-Man, were thus, supposedly, wasted off into a barrage of grim apocalyptic dust. Of course, this being Marvel and Disney, there was absolutely no way this could conceivably be the way the 22-movie MCU ended. And so, here we are with “Avengers: Endgame,” which opens where we last left off: the infamous “Snap.”
‘Endgame’ has an abundance of surprises, all jammed into a screenplay written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely and directed by the Russo brothers, Joe and Anthony. Of course, I will not mention any of the twists here, because part of the fun of ‘Endgame’ is giving yourself in to the Russos’ narrative and letting the twists and turns wash over you like no other MCU movie has before. Yes, “Avengers: Endgame” is, by far, the best ‘Avengers’ movie of the four released, but also one of the very best movies of the MCU.
Surprisingly, it’s Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man that drives the story at the start. Having been in a quantum realm as the snap happened, Ant-Man realizes that maybe, just maybe, there is a way to time-travel and prevent the snap from ever happening. This sets off a surreal odyssey into time manipulation with all the usual suspects involved. The core of the plot has them revisiting some of the most iconic scenes of the MCU’s short but illustrious 11-year history in an aptly mentioned “Time Heist.” It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the sheer enjoyment and fun that this film delivers has a lot to do with its risk-taking creative decisions, making it feel almost like a Christopher Nolan movie than a token MCU one.
The main cast in this film all has surprisingly hefty drama to chew on, all having to deal with the haunting of their own individual past mistakes. It’s deep stuff for what is essentially supposed to be a three-hour comic book movie. Yet, the plot is intricately detailed and features an interlocking mosaic narrative. The Russos have to juggle more than a dozen characters, all of whom seem to share an even-keeled amount of screentime, but unlike “Infinity War,” it all blends and works perfectly.
There’s an unusual amount of creative juice in this finale; the Russos must have felt like this was their final shot to break some rules, go-for-broke so to speak, with the 182-minute runtime they were given by Disney/Marvel. Because of its length, there is actually room to breathe within the narrative here, and you sense that finally, everything is well-delivered, and patiently might I add, in no rush whatsoever. The characters are more fully fleshed out, and the complicated plot is perfectly understandable due to it being carefully played-out. The actors, Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, and Scarlett Johannson, among others, all stalwarts who have been going at it with their characters for close to 10 years, seem to finally have a chance with this movie to embody their roles fully without having to be disrupted by a shorter run-time.
”Avengers: Endgame” is, at the end of the day, still a comic book movie, which means the poignantly done but anti-climactic finale feels overcooked and over-the-top because, well, the mainstream desperately needs to have closure from this 22-movie saga, which means we will have the strained goodbyes, the closures, and the set-ups for future characters, but looking back at what transpired before us in this wonderfully imaginative epic, you just can’t help but think there was no better way to end the journey the way it ends here with ‘Endgame.’ [B+]