How the hell does one even write a spoiler-free review of Avengers: Endgame? For a franchise that's celebrated a decade of dominance and is coming into its 22nd feature film, there are hours of film and information and knowledge that coming into this, a proper bookend to the story that began in 2008 with the Robert Downey, Jr.-led Iron Man. The money spent pushing this film (and theorizing online) has drilled a sense of finality into the heads of Marvel stans, critics, and overall theater-goers, and to that end, Marvel brings the pressure, walking us closer to the comic books that inspired these tales than ever before.
Taking place in the wake of 2018's Avengers: Infinity War, in which Thanos won, the name of the Endgame is walking back what the Mad Titan did, by any means necessary. How they go about it should be easy for those of you who've paid attention to the feature films and their post-credits scenes, but the actual three-hour film we receive is about more than that. At least, that's how it feels.
One of the biggest things the film has going for it is how fan service-y it is, sometimes to a fault. Just about everyone in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that diehards had an inkling of thought or question about making their presence known, for good or ill. A number of these instances not only add weight to the severity of the Decimation, but they also solidify how impactful this decade-long journey has been for those of us latching onto these characters. Kudos goes to Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige; he's svengali'd this Marvel era, crafting this interwoven saga through 20-plus films. Endgame's many twists and turns take us through certain touchpoints during that run and is one of the most adventurous things ever committed to film.
That said, this love letter to the first ten years of the MCU's existence isn't without questions. Stories of this magnitude bring on bigger questions, and when you bring in the concept proposed in Endgame to reverse the Decimation, you lend yourself to larger concerns about how previous events can now be perceived (or completely undone). Sure, some of these moments are great at setting up the future of the MCU, including a number of productions that will be hitting in the near future, but you won't need a fine-toothed comb to pull out some of the glaring circumstances that are left unresolved as a result of the Avengers' plan.
One can liken Endgame to Jordan Peele's Us in that regard; while watching both films, you can get swept up in the beauty and importance of the moment. Once you pull out the magnifying glass? Certain situations start looking funny in the light.
That's not to say that this film fails; quite the contrary, actually. If the Endgame is putting a sense of closure and finality on this three-Phase chapter of Marvel's Cinematic Universe, it does that and then some. Speeches are given, battles are fought, jokes are thrown—many of them. In fact, they pack a LOT of funny into this three hours, for good or ill. In the end, the satisfaction of having stayed the course with Marvel is rewarded tenfold.
Back in December, we likened Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse to reading the comic book Spider-Verse sagas on acid. Most of that was due to the way they brought the drawn comic book world to life. Avengers: Endgame feels more like the Brian Michael Bendis-era of Avengers comic books than ever before. An atrocity befalls the world, and while we come for the splash pages featuring epic battles and hilarious quips, we also get to experience the pain and desperation that the World's Mightiest Heroes have to endure to right the world's wrongs. In Endgame, Feige and company succeeded in coming as close as possible to those "event" comics, while paving the way for tomorrow's journeys.