Avengers: Endgame is ... Epic

Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Rated PG-13: For Mild Language and Violence

Running Time: 181 minutes (3 hours and 1 minute)

Genre/s: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Superhero

Released on April 24, 2019 (PH Release Date; Available for Worldwide Viewing)

Presented by Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Inspired by "The Infinity Gauntlet" story arc written by Jim Starlin

"Iron Man" created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck, and Jack Kirby

"Thor" created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby

"Captain America" created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby

"Guardians of the Galaxy (2008)"  created by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning

"Doctor Strange" and "Spider-Man" created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko

"Black Panther," "The Hulk," and "The Avengers" created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

"Carol Danvers" created by Roy Thomas and Gene Colan

"Thanos" created by Jim Starlin

Writers: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely

Directors: Anthony and Joe Russo

  • Robert Downey Jr. as Anthony "Tony" Stark / Iron Man
  • Chris Evans as Steven "Steve" Rogers / Captain America
  • Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner The Hulk
  • Chris Hemsworth as Thor Odinson
  • Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow
  • Jeremy Renner as Clinton "Clint" Barton / Ronin
  • Don Cheadle as James "Rhodey" Rhodes / War Machine
  • Paul Rudd as Scott Lang / Ant-Man
  • Brie Larson as Carol Danvers / Captain Marvel
  • Karen Gillan as Nebula
  • Danai Gurira as Okoye
  • Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket Raccoon
  • Josh Brolin as Thanos

Note: Major spoilers lie ahead. Other blogs won't be warning you about that, but not us. Not us.

"Whatever it takes." Previously on Avengers: Infinity War, lives were lost, sacrifices were made, and heroes were defeated. The Avengers, after countless battles, from aliens, to killer robots, to their own teammates, have met their match, and they have lost. Now, the remaining heroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have come together to do what they were formed for: to "avenge the fallen." A saga a decade and a year in the making, everything finally comes together in the Endgame.

In the film, Thanos, played by Brolin (Deadpool 2) uses the Infinity Stones to eradicate half of all sentient life in the universe, leading to the universe descending to chaos. The founding members of the Avengers, including Iron Man, played by Downey Jr. (Too Much Sun), Captain America, played by Evans, the Hulk, played by Ruffalo, Black Widow, played by Johansson (Rough Night), and Hawkeye, now known as Ronin, played by Renner (Tag) reassemble with newer allies such as Ant-Man, played by Rudd (Admission), War Machine, played by Cheadle (Miles Ahead), Nebula, played by Gillan (The Circle), and Rocket, voiced by Cooper (A Star is Born - 2018 Remake) must seek-out a way to undo all of Thanos' actions.

"I am inevitable." What happens when everything that everybody held dearly is gone forever? The Russo Brothers, screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, and each of the actors presents us a humanly relatable glimpse of what happens when even the best of us fall. Instead of doing typical superhero things, such as immediately seeking another way to undo all of the damages done, the Avengers do what all other humans do in a seemingly uncontrollable situation: they move-on, but not entirely. Some retire and isolate themselves from the rest of the world out of extreme grief, like Iron Man or Thor. Some find morally questionable ways to vent-out their hopelessness, like Hawkeye. Some try to go through the motions of their daily lives, while just hoping they forget about everything, much like Black Widow and Captain America. 

Though the theme of the film is sacrifice, the feature never sacrifices its time to entertain audiences everywhere. In traditional Marvel flair, numerous callbacks are prevalent all throughout, and unlike most previous films, which is a common point of contention from other reviewers, every single reference is a joyous moment to behold. In a scene when Captain America reunites with his former S.H.I.E.L.D. colleague and then-secretly HYDRA double-agent Brock Rumlow, played by Frank Grillo (The Purge: Anarchy) manages to retrieve the Mind Stone by assuring him that he too is working for HYDRA, which lead to everyone in the theater laughing-out loud. (This scene is even funnier when you realize that this is a reference to the infamous "Hail HYDRA" meme.) But the best callback scene would definitely have to be when Tony Stark gets to have one, final chat with his father Howard, played by John Slattery (Both Ruffalo and Slattery appeared in Spotlight). Their heartwarming discussion about fatherhood helped Iron Man finally get the motivation that he needs to push through until the end, and it leaves all of us shedding a tear or two at the nice wrap-up for Iron Man's overall character arc.

The surprise inclusion of former Sorcerer Supreme, the Ancient One, played by Tilda Swinton (Trainwreck) also adds an extra flavor to an otherwise fun scene, as this also addresses a very minor continuity that the Masters of the Mystic Arts more or less just avoid any conflict at all, even if said attacks are just a few blocks away from them. Also, it is just nice to see that even though their characters are dead, they nevertheless have a special place in the overall franchise continuity.

On the overall story, there are two things I want to highlight: the central time-traveling story, and the sacrifice-related plot. True to the film's emphasis on sacrifice and hope-seeking, the screenwriters indeed refined both aspects of the screenplay to the fullest degree.

The rumors are true. This is a time-traveling movie about the Avengers retrieving all of the Infinity Stones scattered all across time and space. However, unlike X-Men: Days of Future Past, where our heroes have to alter one specific event in order to achieve a more serviceable future, they are not allowed to make changes to the timeline whatsoever, as doing so could bring about even more unwanted happenings to be put into motion. As such, they must also return each of the Stone to their rightful place in time, In addition to it being a unique spin on the whole time-traveling gimmick, and to it being very caring towards the franchise's history, this very plot point also serviced the respective character arcs of both Captain America and Thor. Though Captain America can finally rendezvous with his love Margaret "Peggy" Carter, played by Hayley Atwell (Jimi: All is By My Side), and though Thor, as funny as his depressing weight gain might seem, can already tell his mother Frigga, played by Rene Russo (Velvet Buzzsaw) about her coming demise, both relent and decide to focus on what their true goals are. After everything that both of them have been through, they had the chances to gain some happiness in their lives, but both refused. (Plus, Evans' and Hemsworth's performances in their parts also really help to elevate the emotional gravitas.) 

"Part of the journey is the end." With this feature, this marks the end of several lingering character and story arcs established in various movies all the way from the very beginning, which is Iron Man. In a flick this paramount in importance, it is fitting that certain sacrifices have to be made, in order to elevate the stakes. The movie does just that by further giving dramatic depth to the original Avengers line-up, especially Scarlett Johansson's much more intriguing Black Widow, who now has been traumatized to the full by their defeat and their seeming inability to make everything right again, complete with a compelling for her story. An equal treatment is given to Karen Gillan's memorable Nebula, who really has to confront her past by fighting an alternate version of herself. Heck, even Hawkeye gets one, as he undergoes a drastic, emotional change after losing his entire family from Thanos' actions.

In a painful yet fulfilling move, Iron Man dies a heroic death in an epic last stand for the Infinity Stones. As tears are shed, we are presented with arguably one of the most iconic and tear-jerking scenes in all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is Iron Man's funeral, with the camera lingering slowly to all of the heroes who fought by his side. Later on, Captain America, now fulfilling his mission, travels back in time to grow old with Peggy as his wife. In the wrong hands, these powerful moments would have been just silly or forgettable, but thanks to competent hands and even more competent actors, these are unforgettable moments that also rightfully put an end to their arcs. Though, depending on your interpretation, Captain America either does deserve being happy with Peggy, especially after all of the traumatic moments that he just went through, or he never moved-on and simply traveled back in time, completely discarding the life that he had in the present. (I go with the former, though.)

The film's heavier focus on characterization is nothing to be surprised at, considering that character development for the protagonists is what the franchise is quite notable for, and that this is a film made to conclude several dangling plot threads. Though that is true, and though the pace is slower than most other films, the film never fails to entertain, and the few action sequences here are as lively as ever. Sure, that fight scene between Captain America and the past Captain America is cool, but trust me when I tell you that the climactic battle with everyone against Thanos is just jaw-dropping, and that pre-battle shot of Captain America against all of Thanos' forces is just eye-popping. And like a true epic battle sequence, there is no shortage of amazing moments, including seeing Captain America finally lifting Mjolnir to fight Thanos, the newly resurrected Doctor Strange teleporting Asgardians, Wakandans, and Masters of the Mystic Arts, Scarlet Witch nearly killing Thanos, and of course, Iron Man's final stand  are among the many other highlights in this film. This is made even better by the amazing score by Alan Silvestri.

Yes, this movie definitely lived-up to the hype. Yes, it did manage to be emotionally engaging while still being fun and entertaining. But, it is not entirely perfect, and my two minor problems with the movie lie in the scope, and the visuals. Trust me when I say that none of these issues would derail your entire experience, unless you skipped all previous films and just jumped straight into this one.

In terms of the scope, there is no denying the abundance of recognizable faces all throughout, but the problem lies with how the aftermath of Avengers: Infinity War is handled. We don't see how Wakandans adjusted without their king, how Aunt May Parker, played by Marisa Tomei (The Rewrite) grieve for her dead nephew, or how Ant-Man's friends pondered his whereabouts. The Hulk's ex-girlfriend Betty Ross, played by Liv Tyler (Super), who is confirmed to be killed-off due to Thanos' snap, is never mentioned at all, despite being quite important to the Hulk and her father Thaddeus Ross, played by William Hurt (Broadcast News). Heck, we don't even get to see, or least of all hear how exactly are other planets reacting to the chaos. Though we have scenes of Captain America helping traumatized citizens recover in a group therapy session, and Ant-Man exploring his ghost town of a neighborhood do give some context, we only ever really get to view a "compressed" glimpse on the grave situation. This is a cinematic event, after all, and audiences truly need to see how devastating Thanos' actions are through the eyes of the people closest to the fallen heroes. Hopefully these would be resolved or at least discussed in the forthcoming films.

Though much of the other characters have had their resolutions, I feel as if the Hulk's personal arc, which is said to have begun in Thor: Ragnarok and continued all through here, is really rushed. In the film, the Hulk now possesses both the personalities of Bruce Banner and the Hulk after coming to terms with the Avengers' defeat, therefore becoming one entity. Though Ruffalo does add a much more carefree energy to this take, it would have been interesting if the film would actually build-up to this from the start of the film, and by having the "Professor Hulk" persona manifest itself by the near end to furthe illustrate Bruce Banner's psychological struggles. Also Captain Marvel, played by Brie Larson (Unicorn Store), who is teased time and again to be the savior of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, does absolutely nothing until the final battle. (Her entrance was actually met with a faint round of applause in our theater, just so you know.) 

It also cannot be denied that the costume designs are grand, and the motion capture performances are always beautiful to behold, and it does take away some of the kinetic energy that one should feel in this sequence. I find a lot of the other settings to be bland and forgettable. The gray aesthetic that we mentioned in Captain Marvel? It is prevalent in the final battle, but what rubs me the wrong way the most is how the New Avengers compound does not really feel like a headquarters at all. As someone pointed-out on Twitter some time ago, the way the place is designed, from the furniture to the garage, everything feels generic and lifeless, and unlike the Avengers Tower, you cannot get some semblance of a home here. Also, why is New Asgard, the latest home to the remaining Asgardians, feels more like a typical Norwegian farmland than a potentially blooming empire? Granted they just started building in five years, it would have been nice to see anything to make this setting much more visually distinct.

By the way, the Hulk dabbed. Yep, you read it here first.

At the end of the day, each one of us are reminded that good types of sacrifices are always bound to be made. It is painful, sure, but an eventually fruitful one, and this is a brilliant message that the movie managed to deliver with presentable and ultimately rewarding execution.

Avengers: Endgame is the stuff of legends, and perhaps there really is nothing  else like it in cinematic history yet. You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll cheer. Not a minute goes by when you would ever want to set your eyes someplace else. A lot of the jokes land, a lot of the performances are on-point, and a lot of the stories payoff very well. Plus, we even get some nice twists along the way, aside from some subtle hints at what he future of the franchise has in store for all of us. Minor flaws such as scope and visuals concerns, as well as a justifiable lack of screentime for Thanos, are observable though. Even if it might not be as unpredictable as Avengers: Infinity War, none of those claims would take away the fact that this movie effectively lived-up, if not, exceeded all of our expectations by giving us a powerfully resonant and overall satisfying partial finale to a fantastic film series. I present this film a 22/25 (Awesome!)

For ten years, I have watched every single movie, streamed almost every single television program, and read every single Wikipedia page about them. It really is such a blessing to see how a movie like this actually managed to deliver a near-perfect film that not only serves as the beginning for the next wave of movies, but also as an extended thanks to the many fans out there who have been inspired by the work put into these movies, and the stories that have been told through them. I am simply thankful for Marvel for all of these. It truly is quite a time to be alive, knowing that our favorite comicbook properties are becoming more open to the public.

Jeremy Renner and Paul Rudd are undeniably the highlights of the movie's press tour. As such, before you leave, be sure to check-out the highlights of these two's tour. Stay tuned for more Dateline Movies!


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