So good. Even after reading the hype, it still beat expectations.
That is my one-line review. Everything below will spoil the movie if you haven’t watched it.
I love this movie because Iron Man is my favorite superhero. He’s clever, he’s shown his depth, he has changed, and most importantly, he’s an engineer. He invented a new element in Iron Man 2, and he apparently used linear algebra 101 to invent time travel, too.
I’m a Star Trek fan, so I love technobabble.
Although they are calling all of these Marvel movies the “Infinity Saga,” I think they are better put as the “Tale of Tony and Steve.” Even among the more than two dozen superheroes and the six original Avengers, this movie really ends Iron Man and Captain America’s story arcs in incredible ways. My favorite moment was Tony holding the Infinity Gems and responding to Thanos with “I am Iron Man.” In four words, the writers managed to combine a callback reference, an epic triumph, and a character statement. And I loved his final moments with with Spiderman and Pepper, too.
I also nitpick movies for plot holes and during my first viewing, I couldn’t fully suspend disbelief. How did Ant-Man uses his powers if they spent all the Pym particles? How did Steve make it back as an old man in the primary universe if you can’t affect your own past?
On my second viewing, however, I set aside that impulse, and I enjoyed the poignant moments even more though I knew what was coming.
Overall, I was so impressed with the writing by how simultaneously non-obvious and yet inevitable it all was. We all knew that the Avengers would win, but going into it, we really didn’t know how. It didn’t seem reasonable for Thanos to still be all powerful, but once he says that he destroyed the stones, the consequences are clear. It isn’t until Scott Lang pops out and explains quantum time that it becomes apparent that they need to time travel. And it all seems consistent within the world and as a storytelling mechanism: how else would we get those incredible character moments if our heroes couldn’t go back in time to visit important people and recap more than 20 movies worth of development?
The New York Times has a great interview with the writers where they explain how they developed the script. They mention alternate choices and how they had to factor in other, unreleased movies. I’m just so impressed that they managed to pick this story so perfectly: at every moment, it feels like it couldn’t have happened any other way and must have been part of a master plan since the first Iron Man movie. However, the writers clearly figured it out as they went, and that’s an even more impressive to have put this perfect script together that does so much fan service without getting cheesy.
Speaking of fan service, my favorite joke was when Captain America got the scepter in the elevator. The entire setup is a callback to the elevator fight from The Winter Soldier, and yet they manage to surprise the audience with a big joke.
Of course, the standard MCU excellence is not just having the action and humor but also heart as well. I could gush more about Tony’s journey, but let’s focus on the other Avengers here.
After Thor: Ragnarok, Thor has another incredible character development in becoming the Big Lebowski. I am blessed to have not experienced it myself, but as others on the internet has confirmed, Thor is straight up depressed in this movie. Chris Hemsworth really takes the audience from laughs to tears in seeing his character deal with the consequences of the snap.
If Avengers: Infinity War was a philosophical argument between Utilitarianism and Deontology, Avengers: Endgame is the question about dealing with failure: do you try to fix it, or do you move on? Thor pretends to move on by acting friendly and carefree, but he clearly hasn’t. He continues lives knowing that he truly had a shot at defeating Thanos before the snap and failed. At the beginning of Endgame, he “fixed” his mistake by going for the head but clearly still didn’t succeed. Incredible.
Elsewhere, Black Widow gets productive to try to reverse the snap while Hawkeye takes out his pain on anyone “deserving” he can find. I chuckled about the Spartacus fight at the Soul Stone, but honestly, it’s a more genuine superhero-on-superhero fight than we got in all of Captain America: Civil War, so I’ll take it. Just beforehand, Black Widow and Hawkeye discuss judging people on their worst mistakes. Although they’re referring to their respective pasts, they again are referring to dealing with failure. Again, incredible.
I didn’t cry during the movie, though my eyes watered at a few points. I am still surprised that after 22 movies, they did it: even including Thor: The Dark World, they never made a bad movie. They never jumped the shark. They didn’t get Lost telling this story. They actually released a James Bond number of movies with almost 50 hours of solid storytelling top to bottom and stuck the landing.
5/5 for Endgame and 5/5 for the MCU. I used to wonder if people in a few decades were going to be confused about our current obsession with superhero movies, but I’m not uncertain anymore. This series is one for the ages, and to understand why, all you have to do is watch.
P.S. my MCU movie rankings
- Marvel’s The Avengers
- Iron Man
- Avengers: Endgame
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier
- Thor: Ragnarok
- Spider-Man: Homecoming
- Guardians of the Galaxy
- Black Panther
- Doctor Strange
- Iron Man 3
- Ant-Man and the Wasp
- Iron Man 2
- Avengers: Age of Ultron
- Captain America: Civil War
- Avengers: Infinity War
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
- Captain Marvel
- Captain America: The First Avenger
- The Incredible Hulk
- Thor: The Dark World