Cinematic Releases: The End of an Era: Avengers: Endgame (2019) - Reviewed

In 2008, Marvel Studios released Iron Man and with this simple superhero origin film accomplished what so many have tried to do before--insert comic book heroes into a wider audience. Now, just over a decade later and twenty-three movies deep, we have come to the end of a saga, an overreaching narrative that has interwoven so many characters and stories. Marvel has created a new entertainment hybrid marrying the epic scope and high budget gloss of blockbuster film with the long-term and complex character development of a television series. While cinephiles like to say this is the death of cinema as we know it, Marvel thus far has been the only studio that has been able to successfully implement this style of a shared universe. I don't think this is the death of classic cinema, just a unique way to tell a story that seems to only work in this specific case.

Endgame picks up right after the events of Infinity War, with the universe reeling from the effects of Thanos and his infamous "snap" that eradicated half of all living beings. The tone starts out just as grim and hopeless as the previous film ended and the depiction of a world living with the memory of such a tragic loss of life is well done. That being said, there is quite a bit of levity in the writing but it doesn't feel forced. There are some majorly emotional scenes that are allowed to play out in their entirety with no jokes undercutting the mood (as is a bad habit in previous Marvel entries). 

Clocking in at just over three hours, Endgame could have felt like a slog, but the pace has constant momentum and it never feels like it's dragging. The Russos used a similar narrative structure as Infinity War, with several plot threads occurring simultaneously that all meet up in the same place at the end. It's never hard to follow, though there is a bit too much exposition by characters to explain things that are fairly obvious if one is paying attention. This outing also incorporates some sci-fi elements that introduce a few logistical kinks that might bother more nit-picky viewers. These "kinks" are unavoidable tropes that are baked into every single film that employs them, but I feel that they are not egregious enough to shatter the immersion into the story (a story that entertains a lot of fantastical elements in general).

Those here for the action will not be disappointed in the least, as the entire third act is comprised of a giant battle the likes of which will most likely take your breath away. While I am not the biggest fan of CGI, the effects here are excellent for the most part. For me, the standout technical achievement in Endgame is the editing. The sheer amount of characters and things going on at once is mind-boggling and the fact that this is actually coherent is something the Russos should be proud of. Action aside, where Endgame really shines are the smaller, more intimate character moments. Each character gets a scene or two to themselves, they all have distinct motivations for fighting, and there are numerous pay-offs that fans have been waiting years to see. Even the most jaded viewer will likely shed a tear or two.

Endgame is absolutely not a stand-alone film and it doesn't waste any time filling the audience in on what happened in the films that came before it. It operates not only as a end to an era, but a loving tribute to everything that has come before. It is bittersweet to see these characters change (for better or worse), but exciting to wonder about what they have in store for us next.

--Michelle Kisner