AVENGERS: ENDGAME Is A Deeply Emotional End To The MCU As We Know It

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AVENGERS ENGAME is playing on nearly every movie screen near you. Go see it. Bring tissues. We'll talk later.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe officially began in 2008 with the release of Iron Man featuring the impeccable casting of Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, billionaire futurist and superhero. Now, just slightly more than ten years later, Avengers: Endgame potentially could become the biggest film phenomenon of all time. How do you review something like that? I think the answer is simple: you don’t. You can’t. Anything you say about Iron Man, Captain America, Black Panther, Thor, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Black Widow, Hawkeye,  Captain Marvel, Falcon, Bucky, The Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant Man, The Wasp and may other major and minor characters that have graced the silver screen in the “Decade of Marvel” could be a spoiler, even if you don’t mean to spoil anything.

Instead, I’m going to try to explain why this blockbuster movie is so important on a personal level. I’ve been dreaming or consciously pondering what superheroes and their alter egos would look like in real life or in live action films for years. I started reading comic books almost as soon as I could read, and I quickly gravitated to Marvel. I know the chapter and verse of characters some industry creators may not have even heard of. I have to say that Marvel producer extraordinaire Kevin Feige and his casting directors have done a far better job than I ever would have. Robert Downey Jr. could actually be Tony Stark.  Sure, he looks the part, but his lifestyle in many ways reflected the armored Avenger’s own self-destructive past. Chris Evans had played other comic book characters including Marvel’s Human Torch in Fox’s Fantastic Four but he was meant to be Captain America. Every African American leading man in Hollywood seems to have been attached to Black Panther at some point or another, but I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that Chadwick Boseman was the perfect choice. Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange? I cannot fathom how anyone could have opposed that idea. From top to bottom there really hasn’t been a Marvel superhero casting choice I can complain about. Unexpected joys such as Chris Hemsworth’s Thor and Tom Hiddleston’s Loki and the entire cast of the impossibly impeccable Guardians of the Galaxy only fueled my appetite for more. I’m a forty-six year old white male (sorry if that offends anyone, but please bear in mind I didn’t have any say in the matter) on the outside, but when that theater goes dark and a Marvel film begins, I’m a sugar-high sixth grader who needs a seat belt to keep from jumping up and down every time something cool happens…and something cool happens all the time in the MCU.

Now you know why I cried for most of the last 30-45 minutes of this grand finale and on the drive home. Avengers: Endgame packed a very heavy emotional wallop for a diehard Marvel maven like me. I’m not the average moviegoer. I’m not the casual superhero fan. I’m not, therefore, the target audience of most superhero films. I’m closer to their worst nightmare, a movie critic with an encyclopedia of Marvel minutiae at his mental fingertips. I should be extremely hard to please. There have been films in the MCU that I wasn’t completely happy with: Captain America: The First Avenger, Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, even the most recent entry prior to this last Avengers epic, Captain Marvel. Taken as a whole, a sprawling feat of cinematic engineering never before attempted and unlikely to ever be as effectively duplicated, twenty-two films of high to exceptional quality—this is what eleven year-old me didn’t even know I wanted. Kevin Feige is either the luckiest sonuvabitch (sorry, Cap—language!) in the history of film, or an off-the-charts genius for guiding the two-dimensional exploits of characters created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, Gene Colan, Steve Ditko, Larry Lieber, Don Heck, Don Rico, Ernie Hart, Roy Thomas, Arnold Drake, Jim Starlin, Bill Mantlo, Keith Giffen, Steve Englehart, Walt Simonson, Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting, Brian Michael Bendis, Mike Allred, Joe Quesada and many others from the printed page to the silver screen. The Marvel Universe has always been a part of my creative energy, and the characters are, in some ways, more real to me than just about anyone you see on CNN not named Anderson Cooper. This movie, while cosmic in scope, humanizes even it's most inhuman characters, and the highs and lows the characters experience ripple through the audience. If you've been folowing the MCU from the beginning, you can't help but get swept away in the emotional tidal wave the Russo Brothers created. I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler to acknowledge what anyone with an internet connection has been reading about for over a year: Avengers: Endgame is not a happy ending for all of your favorite characters.

Here’s what I can tell you about the film itself: it’s three hours long without an intermission, so coordinate with your bladder accordingly. I abstained from any beverages or food throughout the movie and bee-lined it straight for the restroom when the credits were over. There is no mid or post credits scene, so you can head for the bathrooms pretty much whenever you choose once the credits begin. There are some images of the longtime actors that get special treatment in the credits, but it’s not leading into Black Panther 2 or even Spider-Man: Far From Home, which is the actual absolute end of MCU Phase Three. Avengers: Endgame is the grand finale, but Spidey gets to bring down the final curtain on the MCU as we know it. Avengers: Endgame is dark. Remember Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows-Part 2? Then you know what I mean. It’s not a cheery, laugh-a-minute romp like the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise (welcome back, James Gunn!), but there are funny moments. I’m reluctant to mention how the heroes take down Thanos because I don’t know what you know about the plot already, but the mechanism the heroes use is both interesting and slightly screwy. That’s about as critical as I can get. I’m not even going to list the cast because even knowing everyone who is in the film will spoil the surprise when you see them. I will tell you that that they do bring back that one person from that one film—you know who I’m talking about (and no matter who you’re thinking of, you’re probably right). The special effects are fantastic. Blending so many characters into a cohesive narrative is amazing. Bringing back so many minor characters in surprising places that go beyond just being fan service for the geeks like me is uncanny. The Alan Silvestri score is sensational. The Russo Brothers are invincible. Avengers: Endgame is a marvelous achievement for Kevin Feige, Marvel’s parent company Disney, and cinema in general.

It also reminds me that the comic industry is struggling mightily right now. There is probably greater diversity in the industry than ever before in terms of creators and genres, but costs keep going up and sales keep slipping, especially in the superhero genre which still leads the pack. I don’t want to have to wait three years to get my fix of my favorite superheroes. I want to be able to go to a comic shop, or online if there are no shops nearby, and pick up a stack of back issues, new comics or trade paperback collections whenever I have a modest amount of disposal income for personal entertainment. I hope Disney sees the value of trickling some of the billions of dollars they’ve made on the MCU back to the industry and the creators that have created literally millions of 22-page pamphlets ready made for adapting into their next Hollywood blockbuster. Keep making Marvel comics, and Disney will never run out of characters and stories from which they will make ridiculous profits.

Other than my mother (Hi Mom!), nobody should even be reading this far. Go see Avengers: Endgame! If you even clicked on this article in the first place you know you’re planning on seeing it anyway. On opening weekend there are entire theatres showing Avengers: Endgame on every screen, with new showings starting every 15 minutes, and many of them are already sold out. This is the cinematic event of a lifetime. I’ll likely write a follow-up in a couple of months when everyone has seen it. Come back and we’ll chat about plot points, character arcs and creative decisions. Until then, true believers, as Stan Lee would say, “Excelsior!” 

Grade: 
5.0 / 5.0