Avengers: Infinity War is not a film that can stand on its own, and honestly I don’t expect it to because that’s simply how most sequels are; they build upon existing settings and characters to tell the story creatives want to convey. Those who don’t know the ins-and-outs of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) are bound to be confused if they dive head-first into Infinity War—as straightforward as its story may be. But that’s just the thing, I haven’t seen anything quite as “insular” as Infinity War. After all, few had 18 predecessors to build upon. It’s actually remarkable—and I say this with full sincerity—that its seemingly impenetrable story is the center of a massive cinematic event. If that doesn’t speak for the series’s success, then nothing will.
Anthony & Joe Russo’s Avengers: Infinity War is the culmination of a decade’s worth of buildup, and that is why despite its flaws, it feels large—larger than the previous Avengers movies if Marvel fans’ unprecedentedly anticipation and reaction to Infinity War was any indication of the movies important standing. Yet Infinity War is only the first part of a two-parter, and now the superior Endgame finally comes to finish the fight.
A year ago, Thanos (Josh Brolin) gathered all six Infinity Stones, and committed the largest genocide of unthinkable scale by wiping out half of the sentient beings in the universe. Earth’s mightiest heroes (and a few others) were powerless to stop him, and those who survived the encounter were left to pick up the pieces. The world mourns while it recovers from the Snap. Yet all hope is not lost. Whatever caused by the Infinity Stones can be undone with the Infinity Stones, or so the heroes reasoned. So the crew suits up to hunt Thanos and the six Stones down. But of course, not everything goes according to plan.
Although Endgame may lose out to Infinity War in terms of pure spectacle, the varied setpieces and high stakes raised by the extra human-touch make Endgame a more exciting affair. I won’t discuss the film’s story in detail in this review, because most folks have made it clear that they prefer to experience the story firsthand; the more tech-savvy fans mute any related keywords on social media and some even abstain from social media completely until they see for themselves one of the most anticipated blockbusters in recent history. But I will tell you this: Endgame is one of the most emotionally satisfying entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and certainly chief among the Avengers movies.
Avengers: Endgame starts slow, but it is in fact fantastically paced. It lacks the middle deadzone of Age of Ultron where story slowed to a crawl, and it does not suffer from the same fatiguing franticness that plagued Infinity War, which made the movie felt more akin to a collage of fight sequences. Instead of the heroes and the audience being dropped right into the battle like in Avengers or Avengers: Infinity War, Endgame is a procedural execution of a complex but sensible plan—you won’t be left breathless trying to process and understand the story. The end result is a clear-minded and steady buildup to a fulfilling climax; three hours of runtime just flies by in the theater.
The less frenetic pace allows the audience to connect with the characters more easily, and that is Endgame biggest strength over any of its predecessors. I have to hand it to the Russo brothers for the treatment of each character. Endgame handled them with such great care, that one can’t help but admire the film’s deft storytelling, and feel one’s love for these characters rejuvenated.
For instance, “Juggle” is a word that often appears in reviews of the first few Avengers movie, but even as it was used to praise the treatment of the characters, the word still implies an insufficient space or time for the massive cast. It is entirely not the case in Endgame. Those who survived the Snap, the Avengers you all knew and loved: Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.,) Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), they feel right at home in Endgame. Everyone belongs, none of them are “juggled” to make time for others.
Avengers: Endgame is a love letter to the early generation of Avengers (Phase 1 MCU); it’s a proper payoff for their cinematic journeys across the decade, and respectful send off for some who are, sadly, departing from the long-running franchise. Endgame is brimming with touching moments (which include but are not exclusive to the moving farewells) that remind us of our history with the heroes and heroines; it is a far cry from the CG-ladened Infinity War that left little breathing room for everything else.
Endgame is the most riveting ride that Marvel has released to date. Though this movie may not be the last chapter of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with its satisfying conclusion to many overarching stories, to quote Thor Odinson, “It is Worthy.” Personally? I would be perfectly content if it ended right then and there.
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