by Skyler Blackwell and Isabel Shic
***SPOILERS AHEAD – PROCEED WITH CAUTION***
On May 2, 2008, the world first heard Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) say four words that would kickstart perhaps the greatest series of superhero movies worldwide: “I am Iron Man.” Eleven years and twenty-two films later, Avengers: Endgame brings the Infinity Saga to a final, box-office-smashing conclusion.
Endgame follows the Avengers on their journey to re-collect the Infinity Stones and defeat Thanos (Josh Brolin) once more. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) goes for the head this time, but, as with any superhero movie, the term “you only live once” never really applies (unless you’re Quicksilver. Sorry, man). The Avengers reassemble: Tony invents time travel because he looked at one (1) picture of his pseudo-son Peter Parker (Tom Holland), Cap (Chris Evans) gets his shield back, Thor turns off Fortnite, and they’re off the save the world (again).
It’s hard to tie in twenty-one previous films in just one movie, but Endgame manages to revisit iconic moments and important storylines from almost all of its predecessors, providing senses of both fulfillment and nostalgia. It’s both funny and emotional, happy and heartbreaking, and overall a satisfying end to the iconic era of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first three “phases”. Endgame was actually not as predictable as a superhero finale might seem, and slight plot twists, along with trailers that contained some fake scenes (yes, the Russo brothers added fake clips to “preserve the magic”) provided for an exciting experience throughout the majority of the film. Viewers will delight in seeing significant friendships develop even further, along with others beginning the path to being repaired. The appearance of some underrated fan favorites are definitely worthy additions, and while it’s sad knowing that Endgame marks Stan Lee’s last cameo, it’s fitting that he can make an appearance in the MCU’s biggest film to date.
Pacing-wise, Avengers: Endgame began slowly, and it took the first half of the movie for the Avengers to assemble. Not every scene was vital, and not every line or joke felt necessary. But for a three-hour film, Endgame kept us captivated and at the constant denial of bathroom breaks. Yes, the inevitable losses of favorite characters in the film are truly tragic (I was the loudest crier in the theater), but it’s an integral part of the plot and Marvel does not disappoint in promising to carry on the legacy of at least one of the recently lost. By the way, that young teenager standing near the back at Tony’s funeral? It’s Harley Keener (Ty Simpkins), the young boy from Iron Man 3 who helps out and cares for Stark when he crash-lands in rural Tennessee. If that’s not bad enough, the kid tells Tony that he hasn’t seen his dad in six years and hopes to see Tony again before that much times passes. Guess how many years after Iron Man 3, Endgame is? Six.
Some characters felt underdeveloped, while others had almost too quick a character progression in just one film. Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a. Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), has felt neglected for the majority of past films, and in Endgame she suddenly proclaims the Avengers her “family” and explains how she’s finally found a purpose. Don’t get me wrong – I’m so happy about that – but for Marvel to finally bring her to the front only to push her off a cliff? That was a big disappointment, especially because she was the MCU’s first female lead and Avenger. When all of the female Avengers & Co. assembled to protect the Infinity Gauntlet, our OG badass female warrior wasn’t there to lead them, and to deny one of Marvel’s most interesting characters even a simple funeral was a let-down to say the least. Carol Danvers (Brie Larson), resident Strongest Avenger and blockbuster superhero, was left out of most of the movie – protecting the rest of the galaxy, no doubt, but the MCU’s newest character seemed pushed aside. Also, even though I love Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) with all of my heart, it didn’t feel right that Steve Rogers would leave his friends and family behind in the present to go spend the rest of his life with her in the 40s. What’s the present to do without America’s A**?
For the most part, the fourth Avengers installment is one of the saddest and biggest tear-jerking films of the MCU, and it certainly doesn’t live up to the humor of, say, 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok, but it’s still one of the best films out there (and has the box office records to prove it).
Endgame is already the second-biggest movie in history, and it’s nowhere near finished with its record-breaking run, having crossed the two billion dollar mark in just eleven days. For perspective, the highest grossing movie of all time (2009’s Avatar) took forty-seven days to reach that same milestone. As of May 6, Endgame has collected approximately $2.189 billion, surpassing even Titanic at $2.187 billion (sorry Leo). Only five films have ever crossed two billion (including Infinity War), but none have done so faster than Endgame.
At its core, even action-packed, superhero movies need an underlying stream of emotion and meaning. While Infinity War lacked in a deeper message, Endgame taught grieving, moving on, and defending what is left–even when it requires sacrificing for the greater good.