Directed by Anthony & Joe Russo
Written by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely
What are the best movie franchises of all time? It’s a difficult question to answer, because what qualifies as a franchise? Could it just be a trilogy, or does it need to be longer? Harry Potter certainly ranks up there, as does Star Wars and James Bond, and many more. But nobody has done anything quite like what Marvel has accomplished over the past decade. The release of Avengers: Endgame marks the 22nd film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is just a staggering achievement. Would I say Marvel is the best film franchise in history? No, I don’t think I would make that argument, but they are certainly worth discussing alongside the other behemoths. Marvel has perfected the formula for storytelling which connects with audiences all across the globe. With Avengers: Endgame, that decade of hard work pays off in a big way with a celebration of a film.
When last we left our heroes, yes welcome to the MCU where it is unfair to try to evaluate a movie by itself (these movies are all interconnected, accept it, embrace it), big baddie Thanos has just wiped out half the universe with a snap of his fingers. Now our remaining heroes are left to wonder what direction the universe will take, how do they even begin to try to bring back all those who were lost? In the spirit of such a massive movie event, I’ll stop my plot synopsis there for fear of spoiling literally anything.
Pretty much the bottom line of film criticism is whether the film is any good or not. Back to what I mentioned before about these films being so interconnected and dependent upon each other, my very honest answer to the question “Is Avengers: Endgame a good movie?” would be…I don’t know. I don’t know because this film is impossible to take as its own entity. Within the context of the series of films, of the overarching story arc spread across a decade of 22 films, yes, this installment brings quite a bit to the table, much like every other Marvel movie before it. There is good action, great character interactions, which include humor and relationship building. It follows the formula, while also managing to be so much more than just a paint-by-numbers. It takes some surprising turns, even if it also manages to do exactly what we expect it to, which is a very neat trick from the brothers Russo and producer/mastermind Kevin Feige.
Are there specific elements in this film that don’t really work? Yes, I think I would say I found a handful of things throughout the narrative that I either didn’t like, didn’t understand, or didn’t find to be strong enough, or even creative enough for such an epic tale. But much of that is easily surpassed by the grander accomplishments in this film, and therefore are difficult to fault the picture for. Perhaps these minor qualms keep the film from being “the best of the franchise” or one of the best epic’s of all time, but what Feige and Marvel have managed to do with Avengers: Endgame is nothing short of incredible. With this film, the team of filmmakers has crafted a worthy celebration of everything which came before it. It’s the perfect denouement for this initial era of Marvel storytelling, putting a bow on the franchise.
At three hours long, a pretty prominent point of discussion on the film pre-release, the film manages to fly by. Sure, lots happens and for that reason you can tell its long, but it certainly doesn’t feel it. With so many characters, oh my goodness so many characters, the film does each one pretty good justice. There are a couple who I felt fell through the cracks just a little bit, but overall the film does a magnificent job of involving its characters and, with the groundwork already done with the previous 21 films, making us care about each and every one of their arcs. This is everything Endgame should have been, and I am fairly confident that Marvel fans will agree with me. It has humor, weight, consequences, excitement, a cool factor. It even carries more emotional heft than any MCU film before it, which is simply a testament to the work done before it, which brings me back to the heart of my stance on this film.
It’s impossible to rank this movie on its own. If I did, I honestly wouldn’t probably be as high on it as I actually am. But that’s because it’s standing on the shoulders of the giants which have come before it. It’s the perfect summation of everything Marvel has accomplished with its “Cinematic Universe” style of storytelling. A celebration. Go see this movie, sit back and enjoy the journey, which has taken a decade. Luxuriate in the film’s runtime and its characters. We only get to experience it for the first time once, and this is that opportunity. The MCU is one of the greatest cinematic achievements of all-time, in my opinion. And Avengers: Endgame is the cherry on top of all that.