Avengers: Endgame (Joe & Anthony Russo, 2019) 3½ out of 4 stars.
Eleven years ago, I never thought the superhero genre would have reached the level of accomplishment of a 21-film saga. Before the first Iron Man released into theaters in 2008, the storytelling limits seemed only as high as the silver screen itself. Joe and Anthony Russo, the current gatekeepers of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, waste no time and start Avengers: Endgame right where Avengers: Infinity War left us no more than a year ago.
Captain America and the remaining Avengers have retreated into hiding after their battle with Thanos in Wakanda ended with the mad titan wiping half the population of the universe from existence with a simple snap of his fingers. A few of our favorite Marvel heroes are worse for wear, but Captain America is determined to finish the job left unfinished in Wakanda before Thanos drops off the radar forever. Trust me: keeping the synopsis of this film as short as possible was the hardest thing about writing this review. If Disney managed to show only 4 percent of Avengers: Endgame in its marketing campaign, then this schlubby film critic should do just fine with two sentences.
The Russo brothers and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely continue their ridiculous juggling act of priceless character moments, emotional resolutions, and the overall satisfaction of every Marvel fan in existence. The latter is a doomed task for all storytellers, but it’s incredible the amount of space a three-hour runtime can give the Russos to pull off the impossible. Amidst the flowing capes, Nordic gods, and the larger-than-life drama, the final installment of the Infinity saga is chock-full of human pathos that is well constructed and will most certainly connect to the average moviegoer while the Marvel fanatic next to them ferociously cries into their soggy popcorn. Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man and Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America deliver raw performances that hit emotional beats never reached before during their stints as the tech-genius billionaire and the super soldier out of his own time period.
Avengers: Endgame never underutilizes the gargantuan spectacles of god-like heroes flying overhead while the physical representation of America’s morals and ideas bashes alien creatures with a red, white and blue shield. Marvel movies are the perfect incarnations of popcorn escapism for every moviegoer. The final act of Endgame, however, can’t be mistaken for anything but a sincere wink and nod from the Russo brothers to every Marvel fan who has stuck with the MCU since 2008.