Though it’s not the last Marvel movie — not by a long shot — Avengers: Endgame is the final chapter in the saga they began eleven years ago with Iron Man. But what you realize about midway through watching it is that Avengers: Endgame is also the culmination of everything Marvel has been doing since Iron Man, and brings this saga to an even more satisfying conclusion than anyone could’ve imagined.
Set in the aftermath of Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame has the remaining Avengers setting out to find Thanos and use the Infinity Gauntlet to undo the damage he’s done. But what happens next is not at all what you might expect. Without spoiling anything, the movie’s plot goes in a rather unexpected direction, one that itself goes in even more unexpected directions until it finally ends in a way that, well, you know.
And the plot isn’t the only way Avengers: Endgame goes where you might not expect. While you may think this will be an exhilarating action film (and it is) and will have the kind of situational humor we’ve seen in the best of the Marvel movies (and it does), it is also deeply emotional, even heartbreaking.
In fact, Avengers: Endgame is the most satisfying conclusion to a cinematic saga since Return Of The Jedi brought the original Star Wars trilogy to a close (or so we thought at the time). Not only were there moments when I got chills, but there was one that made me tear up with joy. By the end, I was emotionally spent. And yes, I am including both The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country in that comparison. Especially since it doesn’t just conclude the story that started in Avengers: Infinity War, but it pulls in threads from almost every other movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe series. There was even a nice little nod to the show Agent Carter.
Avengers: Endgame is also the perfect complement to Avengers: Infinity War, but in a way that makes it feel like its own movie, not the second half of a long story the way The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions felt like two halves of a whole. Though it is a very different movie. It’s a lot more serious, and at times more somber, though it also has moments when it’s just as exciting and genuinely funny.
Of course, the emotional journey that is Avengers: End Game is obviously one that’s easy to get caught up in…as you can probably tell from what I’ve said so far. But it really is that good. So good, in fact, that elements that would be cheesy or groan-inducing in other films actually work here, and work well. And that includes everything from major plot points and character appearances to one-liners and call-backs.
Which is why, despite having a three-hour runtime, Avengers: Endgame flies by like a movie half its length. At no point did it drag or make me think I could run to bathroom real quick and not miss anything. It was as effortless as Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Deadpool, and, well, the best Marvel movies: Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Spider-man: Homecoming.
In fact, the only things I didn’t like about Avengers: Endgame were Black Widow’s hair — though given how half the hairdressers were snapped away in Avengers: Infinity War, we’ll forgive her — and some of the tunes in the soundtrack.
I would also caution casual viewers that if you haven’t seen all of the other movies, save for The Incredible Hulk, you might get a bit lost. Doubly so if the movies you’ve missed are Captain Marvel, Ant-Man And The Wasp, and Thor: Ragnarok. Though the latter one more for some of the jokes.
It’s never easy saying goodbye. And, thankfully, we won’t have to do that with the Marvel movies. Not with Spider-man: Far From Home due out July 2nd, Shang-Chi currently in production, and new installments of Guardians Of The Galaxy, Black Panther, Doctor Strange, and Captain Marvel supposedly in the works. And let’s not forget the rumored Black Widow movie. But as the end of this saga — the end of a story that began when Tony Stark went to Afghanistan to demo the new Jericho missile — Avengers: Endgame is everything fans of these movies, these characters, and this tale could’ve hoped for.