By HEATHER TURK
Front Row Features Film Critic
Sadly, all good things must come to an end.
A cinematic event 11 years in the making, Marvel Studios’ highly anticipated “Avengers: Endgame” finally hits theaters on Friday. Of course, if you’re one of the die-hard fans who have followed the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s lauded Infinity Saga since 2008’s “Iron Man” (that’s before The Walt Disney Company even purchased Marvel Entertainment!), you likely already have your tickets to a 7 p.m. showing on Thursday night. If for some reason you don’t, do yourself a favor and find the nearest screening to you that isn’t already sold out—you won’t want to wait a single minute more than you have to to see the film.
Part of the beauty of “Endgame” is not knowing what’s going to happen during the movie other than the fact that the Avengers who managed to survive Thanos’ (Josh Brolin) deadly snap at the end of “Avengers: Infinity War” are trying to somehow bring back those they lost. For that reason, I won’t say anything else about the plot, as the film’s many twists and surprises begin just minutes into the movie.
What I will say is that frequent MCU screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (“Avengers: Infinity War,” “Captain America: Civil War,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Thor: The Dark World” and “Captain America: The First Avenger”), along with directors Anthony and Joe Russo (“Avengers: Infinity War,” “Captain America: Civil War” and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”), craft a masterful story that is everything Marvel fans will want from “Endgame” and more. Moviegoers who have been with the 22-film saga since the beginning will not only be reunited with old friends and foes, but also get to see their favorite superheroes finally meet their destinies. Some of their fates are tragic, others are deservedly beautiful, but they’re all well written and oddly poetic. Tears will be shed, laughs will be had—it’s an emotional journey that’s worth taking.
Robert Downey Jr. and Scarlett Johansson give career-best performances as Tony Stark/Iron Man and Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, respectively, although it’s Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk and Chris Hemsworth as Thor who truly steal the spotlight. Audiences will see both beloved characters like never before in “Endgame” and love them all the more because of it.
It should also be noted that despite its three-hour-plus running time, “Endgame” never once feels long or bloated. Audiences will cherish every second they still have with these characters, as they know it will be over in what feels like the blink of an eye (or should I say, the snap of someone’s fingers). While there are a few questions that will go unanswered at the end of the film—some intentional, others not—viewers won’t mind the minor plot points that don’t quite make sense (and won’t be spoiled here) since the majority of the film is so smartly written and fun. Yes, even though trillions of lives are at stake throughout the universe, the relatively bleak “Endgame” still manages to be a blast during its second act and even leaves viewers feeling a bit optimistic for what’s next in the MCU at its conclusion. After all, we’re not saying good-bye to all of these characters just yet.
Overall, “Avengers: Endgame” improves upon last year’s near-perfect “Avengers: Infinity War” and delivers one of the most satisfying endings to a movie saga ever created. While it’s only natural to wish all of the Avengers could live happily ever after, the sad reality is that there are casualties in war and these heroes are willing to do “Whatever it takes” to bring back those Thanos turned into dust. The best fans can do walking into the film is hope that their favorite characters meet a fate that does them justice, regardless of whether they live to fight another day. And in that regard, “Avengers: Endgame” succeeds tremendously.