Nearly 11 years to the day after Marvel dropped "Iron Man" and kickstarted the largest and most profitable franchise in movie history, the saga of the Avengers comes to a close with "Avengers: Endgame," a three-hour epic that sees our heroes trying to defeat Thanos and reverse the destruction he wrought in "Infinity War." Is it worth the wait? Does it bring the first three phases of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to a satisfying conclusion? Here's what the reviews have to say.
We've kept things as spoiler-free as possible, but depending on your spoiler tolerance, proceed carefully.
Concerned About The Three-Hour Runtime? Don't Be
Just make sure you use the bathroom before the movie starts:
[W]hile the time doesn't exactly fly, it doesn't drag either. The two hours and forty minutes of "Infinity War" (also directed by Joe and Anthony Russo) felt infinitely longer. Settling scores, wrapping up loose ends and taking a victory lap — the main objects of the game this ostensibly last time around — generate some comic sparks as well as a few honest tears.
Despite its epic ambitions and tumescent running time, "Endgame" often feels shorter, looser and lighter on its feet than some of its Marvel brethren.
It's Chock Full Of Fan Service
If this is your first "Avengers" movie, well, maybe rethink that (and watch the other movies first). But if you're a Marvel fan you're going to be pleased:
If Avengers: Endgame were, for some bizarre reason, your first Marvel movie, it'd be a miserable experience. But for devoted fans, it functions as a greatest-hits clip-show package. It's filled with hat-tips and winks to the audience—forgivable pieces of indulgence, given the goodwill the series has built up with millions of viewers.
Where Infinity War had trouble finding time for characters, Endgame is about nothing but character work, the kind that can only work in a narrative as old and wide as an interconnected comic book universe. The film, again by directors Joe Russo and Anthony Russo, is a giant tribute to those who have stuck with the Marvel Cinematic Universe for over a decade, but a nutritious one, a cunningly crafted one… Endgame knows what its audience wants, and delivers that without feeling like quote-unquote fan service.
And Maybe… Too Full At Times
After an intelligent first hour, "Endgame" amounts to a dense nostalgia trip. With "Infinity War," it was thrilling to watch a mass-market movie let the bad guy win, and it's less satisfying to see the Avengers clean up the mess one last time. The title of "Endgame" is misleading: This busy love letter to the biggest movie franchise of all time unleashes several endings at once, resulting in a fascinating — if at times messy — collection of competing agendas.
The Russo Brothers And The Script Keep The Tone Varied And Interesting
As nauseating as the aura of momentousness around "Endgame" has been for some, the movie — while certainly not lacking in ominous solemnity — is frequently funny, as the Russos, working from a script by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, arrange their heroes in fresh pairings and unlikely contexts.
But there is growth here. Whereas Downey's fast-talking quips and occasional rudeness became increasingly callow and off-putting in his Iron Man outings, Tony Stark in this movie, at last, seems more human and dimensional. Thor and Captain America are experiencing identity issues. And the most unexpected comic relief may come from Mark Ruffalo's Bruce Banner… There is no question that Avengers: Endgame benefits considerably from the prioritizing of humor and character detailing on the parts of writers Markus and McFeely and directors Anthony and Joe Russo, something most of the actors clearly picked up on and ran with.
The overall journey not only produces several genuine surprises — no small feat in this context — but plenty of humor, with an assortment of lighter moments to augment the stirring and, yes, emotional ones.
The Climactic Showdown Is Dividing Opinion
To some reviewers, it's incredible:
"Endgame" loses some of its momentum in the middle of its three-hour run time, but unleashes the largest and most fist-pumping, goosebump-causing, insanely destructive action climax in a superhero movie yet. Good luck to anybody trying to surpass this one, because the mold's been broken.
To others, it's a competent retread of superhero battles of yore:
The main criticism that can be leveled against Avengers: Endgame (or at least the only one we can discuss in broad terms without spoiling anything) is one that has plagued most Marvel movies up to this point: an overreliance on overproduced CGI battles which, despite elaborate staging, can't help but devolve into numbing, pixel-on-pixel slugfests.
[The] cataclysmic showdown, an ensemble mash-up of inevitably staggering proportions that, like too many of the action sequences in these movies, devolves into a murky, indecipherable blur.
There Is A Plot, But It's Not What Your There For
It's reasonable to be worried about spoilers, but at the end of the day, the plot isn't the most important thing about "Endgame":
You may note that I'm not recounting the plot, because a) it matters perhaps too much to one segment of the audience, and b) it ultimately matters not at all. "Avengers: Endgame" isn't about anything, really, except its own internal mythology and where it all goes from here. And knowing the realities of filmmaking and the needs of an ongoing franchise, most viewers will probably guess correctly which characters will have survived Thanos' (Josh Brolin) deadly snap.
Avengers: Endgame is of course entirely preposterous and, yes, the central plot device here does not, in itself, deliver the shock of the new. But the sheer enjoyment and fun that it delivers, the pure exotic spectacle, are irresistible, as is its insouciant way of combining the serious and the comic.
Ultimately, Avengers: Endgame feels exhausting. That's not a knock against the movie, though. The exhaustion is well earned, because like Earth's Mightiest Heroes, we feel as if we've truly come to the end of a long, winding, confusing, but ultimately rewarding road. Tears will be shed, cheers will ring out, and we'll head home, tired but contented.