Image: © 2017 Marvel Entertainment / Sky Editorial Asset Centre

Avengers: Endgame: Review (spoiler free)

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At the midnight screening of the latest MCU instalment, Avengers: Endgame, the cinema was completely packed. Countless people sat waiting for what is likely the finale to the Avengers quartet, talking theories, predictions, hopes and favourite Marvel moments before the curtain lifted on what is surely the most anticipated film of the year. There was an excitement in the theatre on a level I’d never experienced before – and the enthusiasm was justified.

Endgame promised to be the culmination of 21 movies-worth of character, story, expansion, and adventure. It’s a movie that has been eagerly-awaited ever since it was first announced in 2014, one that not only had to satisfyingly live up to and surpass Infinity War but deliver an ending worthy of characters we’ve spent years getting to know and love. It had to be big. It had to be special. Endgame had so much riding on it that it seemed impossible that it could ever deliver on the expectations established by its huge fan base. Does it live up to the hype? Absolutely.

Endgame is a brilliant movie, and the fact that we get to watch it alongside the rest of the MCU is a truly amazing feat of film-making and story development

Avengers: Endgame is truly a once in a lifetime movie experience. However good you thought it would be, it could be, it surpasses expectations in more ways you could ever expect. It’s everything that has made the MCU so beloved, a film created in the best possible way, on a scale we’ve never seen before. It’s funny, it’s heartbreaking, it’s clever, it’s grand, it’s ambitious, it’s creative, and it leaves you with so many mixed emotions you’ll be unsure exactly how to feel about everything until a long time after you’ve left the cinema. Endgame is a brilliant movie, and the fact that we get to watch it alongside the rest of the MCU is a truly amazing feat of film-making and story development.

Due to the intense secrecy that surrounds the plot, synopses are forcibly brief. The universe is in utter disarray after the events in Infinity War. Thanos activated the Infinity Stones to turn 50% of the population to dust, including a large portion of our heroes. As the surviving Avengers try to come to grips with their new world, an opportunity arises that may just allow them to undo the damage done. At whatever the cost.

Marvel know just how big their universe has become, how much their audience has been following and enjoying their films for so many years, and Endgame is the swan song to celebrate it all

This may be the Endgame, but this is still first and foremost an Avengers movie. That means we get the usual cocktail of character dynamics, unlikely team-ups, group banter and all the things that have been the best parts of the previous movies in the franchise. Infinity War was definitely Thanos’ movie, but Endgame brings the focus back to the Avengers themselves, with a special focus on the original six members. We get to see every character reduced to their lowest, see how they respond to the unspeakable tragedy that they failed to stop. The movie really takes its time to allow you to live in the new reality of the ‘post-snap’ universe, and it deserves significant credit for that. We get the chance to see this new world and understand the personal stakes of each character, making it that much more effective when a glimmer of hope presents itself. The actors have been playing these characters for so many years now, and in Endgame they give some of the best performances we’ve seen across the franchise.

What’s also impressive about this movie is just how much it seems to be a love letter to the MCU. Endgame was always promised to be the finale to this era of the universe, but if it’s saying goodbye to these characters and stories, it’s saying goodbye in a big way. Explaining specifically how would give too much away, but suffice to say, this film is jam-packed with callbacks, big moments, subtle and self-referential moments, and a whole string of cameos. The producers may have announced some big ones before the film’s release, but there are others you simply won’t see coming, making them incredibly satisfying when they appear on screen. Marvel know just how big their universe has become, how much their audience has been following and enjoying their films for so many years, and Endgame is the swan song to celebrate it all.

The stakes are high, the mission is big, and the finale, the final pay off, goes beyond the descriptive power of words

What ultimately makes this movie-going experience so remarkable, however, isn’t just the emotional tone or the cameos – it’s the sense of epic story-telling that we haven’t really seen in cinema for quite a while. Everything about this movie feels significant, even whilst still keeping its typical characterisation at the forefront. The stakes are high, the mission is big, and the finale, the final pay off, goes beyond the descriptive power of words. It’s the sort of comic book spectacle you never think could really work on the big screen, but it absolutely does. Honestly, I don’t think it’s actually possible to walk out of the cinema without a dropped jaw, it’s that powerful a final sequence. And what comes after that, well, is something just as powerful but in a very different way.

Ultimately, once the hype subsides, there may be things not everyone can get behind in Endgame. There are some bold character decisions and plot elements that might not sit well with some, and some unclear issues relating to continuity. But on the whole, the former is just personal preference and the latter are inconsequential compared to everything else this movie offers. Endgame is a fantastic cinematic experience, and a fantastic movie in its own right. It delivers everything you could want from a finale to a truly epic saga, and will make audiences so overwhelmed it’s likely that some will be left utterly speechless. To think we’ve come from Tony Stark building a suit out of scraps in a cave to this is a one hell of a thought. Since then, we’ve had the joy of witnessing an incredible story develop over 10 years – and Avengers: Endgame is a perfect movie to round it all off.

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