Since Tony Stark crafted his first Iron Man suit in 2008, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has evolved into the most ambitious and successful cinematic universe of all time. Avengers: Endgame is the end of Marvel’s first saga, and the Russo brothers have taken every care to carry this story to the finish line with focus, energy and emotion, fitting for the grandest of grand finales.

The Russo brothers have also taken great care to shroud what the story of Endgame is in mystery, and for good reason. Before the first of the movie’s three hours is over, the story’s trajectory is wildly shifted, and for a good while, it’s unclear where it could possibly go. Soon enough, however, the Avengers assemble a plan, one which carries them to the true endgame. 

Following the events of Avengers: Infinity War, “The Mad Titan,” Thanos (Josh Brolin), has snapped away half of the universe’s population. Now half of the Avengers are gone, and the surviving half is grieving. Loss is a major theme in Endgame, and how each character struggles with that loss determines their role in the story.

This isn’t to say the film is without its levity. While perhaps a few quips shorter of Infinity War, Endgame has moments that are downright hysterical, leveraging fans’ collective experience not just for emotional moments but for punchlines that were unknowingly set up years ago in other movies. Marvel is keenly aware of the more absurd elements of its superhero franchise, and their recent strategy of addressing and running with the absurdity is excellent for retaining attention during the film’s three-hour runtime.

Each hero gets their time to shine, but it’s the core four superheroes that get the most attention: Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.). Each the main characters of their own franchises, Endgame pays the utmost respect to each and every hero’s personal stories and relationships with one another. 

Assisted by the stellar script, some of the most intense and heartbreaking performances come from both Marvel’s core four and newer recruits. There is assuredly action in Endgame, but just as important are the tender moments between each of these characters.

But when the action hits, it hits hard. The movie’s final battle in particular is at a scope and scale unheard of, and just as each hero’s character evolves, so does the scope of their abilities and weapons. Many scenes toward the final act have payoff for so many characters at once that there’s something new to scream about with every passing minute.

It isn’t necessary to have seen every installment in Marvel’s 22-film cinematic universe to enjoy Endgame, but the more audiences know, the more of that payoff there will be. Endgame is a celebration of Marvel’s rich history and rewards fans of each franchise not just with winks and nods but with new nuance and meaning for each scene.

Returning as composer, Alan Silvestri yet again proves why the Avengers theme is so iconic. Silvestri plays with the original theme in some fun ways throughout the film, but the triumphant rendition never fails to bring chills. Silvestri can magnify any emotion on-screen by 3,000, and with the close of one of the largest cinematic events of all time, Endgame’s score brings laughs, tears and goosebumps exactly when it needs to.

If Infinity War was a story about Thanos, then Endgame is a story about the fans. More than anything, Avengers: Endgame is a triumphant celebration of the silly yet dead-serious superheroes millions of people across the world put their hearts in. Expectations for this finale have been astronomically high, and that Endgame was able not just to meet but exceed them is simply a marvel.

There’s a reason Endgame is set to become the highest-grossing film of all time — there’s never been anything like it.

Rating: 5/5 

@JosephStanichar

js080117@ohio.edu

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