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Avengers: Endgame | REVIEW (w/Spoilers)

Hey everyone, welcome to Area-616.com. Thus far I've avoided giving my concrete thoughts on #AvengersEndgame-- that ends today.

WARNING: FULL SPOILERS FOR AVENGERS: ENDGAME

To say that Avengers: Endgame is a big deal is an understatement. It is the movie that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been building towards since 2008-- the grand conclusion to the Infinity Saga, 11 years in the making. So, suffice to say my own (and everyone else on the planet's) expectations were very high. And I'm happy to say, that I did not come out of my first viewing disappointed in the least. It does so much so right that I think it'd be impossible for me to dislike this movie. That's not to say it's a perfect film-- it has its flaws, which I'll get into in a moment. But really, I cannot stress enough that when it does it right it does. It. Right.


WHAT WORKS

The MCU's Big Three (Thor, Cap, and Iron Man) prepare to face Thanos one last time

So much about this movie works. But particular highlights here and the characters and story at the core. That's something Marvel Studios has always excelled at-- making great characters, and making you care about them, and Avengers: Endgame is no different. Most of the core cast are handled masterfully-- with particular regards to Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark and Chris Evans' Steve Rogers. This is both actors' last times in the role, and they make the most of it. The writers, directors, and actors manage to make stunning and satisfying conclusions to both characters arcs, with Iron Man's heroic sacrifice to defeat Thanos, and Cap's decision to live out the rest of his life with Peggy Carter in the past. It's the perfect endings to their story, allowing both characters to finally find peace. Despite their differences, both characters are very similar in one way-- they're not at peace. Since the Battle of New York, Stark has been obsessing over the dark threat looming over his life-- whether that's having panic attacks and making 40 new suits (Iron Man 3), creating Ultron (Avengers: Age of Ultron), or signing the Sokovia Accords (Captain America: Civil War) and training a new generation (Spider-Man: Homecoming). After failing to stop Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War, Stark finally finds peace in Endgame knowing his family is safe, and that he finally stopped that looming darkness. Steve on the other hand, hasn't been able to find a place in the new world. As Ultron says, he cannot live without a war-- it's how he defines himself in this new era where everyone he knew is either dead and gone or a brainwashed assassin. If he had remained in the modern time, he would've never stopped fighting, not until his death. Steve has found that Ultron wasn't completely right-- he can live without a war, just not here.

Black Widow and Hawkeye on their way to Vormir

The rest of the cast have their ups and downs. Two of them have a lot to work with (Hawkeye and Black Widow), and the other two take a bit of getting used to (Thor and Hulk). After constantly getting thrown to the side, Jeremy Renner's Clint Barton gets a lot to do in Endgame, which is easily my favorite portrayal of Hawkeye yet. After the death of his family, he goes on a rampage as Ronin, before eventually finding the hero inside himself again after Natasha's sacrifice. There's been a lot of controversy around the death of Black Widow, but it's hard to deny that it's not a good ending to her character. All of her life, she's been driven by a desire for redemption-- to prove that she's more than her past sins. There aren't many better ways to prove yourself than self-sacrifice to save trillions, or even just one. Natasha dies a hero-- is it disappointing she wasn't able to be a part of that epic finale? Absolutely. But I wouldn't change a thing. Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, and Chris Evans absolutely have the standout performances of the film.


And then there's Thor and the Hulk.


I debated where to put this-- in this section or the next one, but I ultimately decided here because I don't entirely dislike what was done with them. Everytime I rewatch Endgame, I like it better, including these two. I've grown to like what they did with Hulk, but it was unnerving at first. Since 2012, Hulk has grown from a darker, tortured character to a very light-hearted one, and I'm not sure that's exactly what I was always hoping for, but it's something I can get used to. Like with Hulk, the treatment of Thor is something I've grown to somewhat appreciate.

Thor and Hulk prepare to travel through time

A lot of people say that Thor has lost himself-- and that's true. But really, how could he not? In the span of his 7-movie appearances in the MCU, he's lost his brother (3 times, the most recent one for real), his mother, his girlfriend dumped him, his father died in front of him, dropping a huge responsibility on him that he never wanted (ruling Asgard), his secret evil sister returned and killed all of his friends, forcing him to destroy his own home just to stop her, and then Thanos arrives and kills his brother and best friend, and Thor fails to stop him-- resulting in the slaughter of literally trillions. Can you really blame the guy for completely breaking down? YouTuber CaptainMidnight explains it best-- there's no understating how hard his failure hit him, because no matter there's something Thor is always the best at-- smashing things. Using his brute strength to save the day. But because of his ego, because of one mistake, he failed to do that one thing he's good at, and everyone in the universe payed the price. Really it's a miracle he comes back from that at all. His arc is him finally letting go of who he's supposed to be and being who he is-- him just dropping Asgard in Valkyrie's lap feels a little off to me, as that's exactly what Odin did to him (and I never got the feeling Valkyrie was any more interested in ruling than Thor is). I don't think it's a perfect arc, but I can appreciate. So, there are some bumps, but I feel the original six Avengers are the strongest part of the movie, but they aren't the only ones. They're joined by Ant-Man, Rocket, War Machine, and Nebula, who all get some of their best moments. Nebula is a true standout-- she gets a lot to do, and Karen Gillan plays it well. And Scott Lang is a not particularly surprising highlight as well-- he's always effortlessly charming as the lovable loser, but there's also a real heroism and heart to him here that I was thrilled to see. War Machine and Rocket don't get as much to do, but they're still very entertaining and this has made me eager to see what's next for them. I've spent quite a while discussing the characters here-- they're probably the best part of Endgame, but they aren't the only standouts.

"AVENGERS..."

It's been said a lot by now, but the last hour of Endgame is the best hour of anything that Marvel's ever made. it's filled with moments we've waited over a decade for (Cap wielding Mljnoir, "Avengers Assemble", A-Force, etc), and pay-offs to moments we never saw coming ("And I... am Iron Man.") It's epic in ways that words can't describe-- the fruit of Marvel's labor all coming to a head in a show-stopping climax. It's breathtaking, and everything a fan could've ever dreamed of.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK

Captain Marvel at the Avengers facility after saving Tony and Nebula

There's not much about Endgame that I would say "doesn't work," but as I said earlier, it's not a completely flawless movie. Captain Marvel was one negative for me. If you've read my Captain Marvel review, you'll know I'm not on the "anti-Captain Marvel" train-- but she didn't impress me here. In her own solo movie, her best moments were when her personality shined through (belly-flopping through a spaceship for example), but these films seem convinced she's at her best when she's invincible, flying around blowing things up. That's not to say she doesn't have her moments ("Hey Peter Parker... you got something for me?"), and I'll admit it was pretty cool to see her get punched in the face by Thanos and not even flinch, but she just doesn't live up to her comics counterpart here. I've said it many times-- I think she's headed for a Thor situation, where she has a rocky start, but over time she excels, and I hope with some fresh creative blood we can finally get the perfect Captain Marvel movie (please don't bring back Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck, Marvel). I also feel like there are some moments and jokes that feel out-of-place, or go on a bit too long. The Hulk cafe scene, for example, is maybe a bit too long, even if it does have a great punchline ("Take the goddamn phone.") And the whole Fortnite bit is definitely not going to age well. But, these moments are few and far between, and I actually think the movie did a pretty good job balancing its humor overall. The action, overall, isn't the strongest Marvel has had to date. It does have Marvel's best finale ever, don't get me wrong, but that comes more from seeing all of these characters come together at last and make their final stand. In terms of choreography and camerawork, the finale doesn't have anything super impressive (but don't get me wrong-- the final fight is still nothing short of cinematic gold). I think, overall, Endgame doesn't have the same smooth flow and progression that Infinity War had. It's slower, a bit more choppy with it's pacing, but that's not a bad thing in this case. This time is spent with the characters, taking in their grief or giving them their final moments, so even if I think Infinity War is a more well put-together film, I still think Endgame is a better overall product.

FINAL VERDICT

"As long as one man stands against you, Thanos, you'll never be able to claim victory."

Avengers: Endgame is Marvel's best movie. It's not always their most well-written or put-together movie, but it's easily their most heartfelt. It's the conclusion to 22 films, a story 11 years in the making. But despite all of that, it's still a very personal movie that devotes most of its runtime to these characters' arcs, and I love it for that. It gives a lot of these characters the perfect ending, and has enough fan service to make anyone who's been following along thrilled to no end. It's filled with some of the best moments the MCU has to offer-- Iron Man weilding the Infinity Gauntlet, Cap's last stand, and so many more-- although these moments are all in the final hour. Avengers: Endgame is a difficult movie to review-- it's why it took me so long to do it. Because it's not perfect by any means-- it's flawed, and sometimes it's downright messy. But I still love it, because it's not just one movie-- it's a saga. The conclusion to something so much bigger, and in that respect, it's flawless. Yeah, that's an A+ from me, guys.


But what did you guys think about Avengers: Endgame? Be sure to sign-in to the site so that you can leave your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks for reading, and I'll see you all next time.


A TIER - FANTASTIC

Avengers: Endgame (A+)

Avengers: Infinity War (A+)

Marvel's Daredevil (A+)

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (A+)

Guardians of the Galaxy (A+)

The Avengers (A)

Black Panther (A)

Captain America: Civil War (A-) Iron Man (A-)

Marvel's Jessica Jones (A-)

B TIER - GREAT

Spider-Man: Homecoming (B+)

Thor: Ragnarok (B+)

Marvel's Luke Cage (B+)

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (B)

Marvel's The Punisher (B+)

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (B)

Captain America: The First Avenger (B)

Marvel's Agent Carter (B-)

C TIER - AVERAGE

Doctor Strange (C+)

Ant-Man (C+)

Marvel's Runaways (C+)

Iron Man 3 (C+)

Ant-Man and the Wasp (C)

Captain Marvel (C)

Avengers: Age of Ultron (C)

Marvel's Cloak & Dagger (C)

Thor (C-)

Iron Man 2 (C-)

D TIER - OKAY

Iron Man 2 (D+)

The Incredible Hulk (D)

Marvel's Iron Fist (D-)

Thor: The Dark World (D-)

F TIER - TERRIBLE

Marvel's Inhumans (F)


*NOTE: I'll update this list whenever there's a new addition to the MCU. Next up: Cloak & Dagger Season 2 at the end of May.

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