Special To / The Advocate
“Avengers: Endgame” is the thrilling conclusion to a chapter of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) that has been nothing short of historic.
It perfectly encapsulates everything the MCU has been over the past 11 years in a way that makes the viewing experience more than worth it for longtime Marvel fans while also showing newcomers what they’ve been missing out on.
Marvel Studios’ latest product is a three-hour roller coaster that wants you to feel joy, humor, desperation, and heartbreak all at once.
The movie is so well-executed that it makes you take a step back and realize the incredible feat Marvel has accomplished by creating a cohesive string of movies spanning over a decade that complement each other and have been the cornerstone of something truly special.
“Avengers: Endgame” is a strong reminder of just how much the characters in the MCU have grown — their feelings become the audience’s feelings.
It serves as a last stand for some heroes and the beginning of new opportunities for others.
In the film, the story arc of several characters are completed while also opening doors for future movies.
Several moments of the movie are so satisfying that it becomes difficult to choose which is best.
Endgame is the ultimate payoff.
The film’s first act focuses on the aftermath of the ending of “Avengers: Infinity War” where the primary antagonist, Thanos (Josh Brolin), achieves his goal by collecting the six Infinity
Stones despite the Avengers noble efforts to stop him.
Thanos ultimately uses the stones to wipe out half of all life in existence with a simple snap of his gauntlet-clad fingers in order to “restore balance to the universe.
This leg of the film highlights how the Avengers evolved from more than a band of earth’s mightiest heroes and have become a family.
For some members of the team, it’s the only family they’ve ever really known.
It’s clear that the focus of the film is the original six Avengers:Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.).
Although other important characters such as Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), Rocket Racoon (Bradley Cooper), Nebula (Karen Gillan) and James Rhodes (Don Cheadle), survive the snap, it’s the original six viewers live through post-snap and whose character development seems the most apparent by the end of the film.
Nearly one month after the events of “Infinity War” take place, the surviving heroes make another attempt to undo the seismic damage that Thanos brought to the universe.
They set course for “The Garden”, a planet where Thanos has chosen for his place of residence after bringing his definition of “balance” upon all life.
He’s hung up his battle armor, the job is done. He’s undoubtedly the hero of his own story.
As Thanos is preparing a meal with homegrown food he picked, it’s clearly visible he’s been damaged from the power exerted to execute the effects of the snap.
The Gauntlet he used to wield the infinity stones appears broken as well.
Suddenly, Captain Marvel crashes in and attacks him. He puts up little fight as the rest of the team restrains him and asks where the stones are.
Thanos tells them that he destroyed them after he got rid of half the universe because “they served no purpose beyond temptation.”
When one of the Avengers tries to call his bluff, Nebula tells them that her father isn’t lying. Thanos uses this I told you so moment and says “ I am inevitable.”
A frustrated Thor decapitates him with his axe, Stormbreaker, swiftly after.
However, his death is too little, too late.
After the heroes come to this realization, the tone of the movie immediately shifts from a focused optimism to a depressing sense of loneliness and hopelessness.
The audience is given a black screen, a time jump of five years but still does a great job of portraying the emptiness of this new world.
The film really wants viewers to feel the loss of not only the heroes but the people around them.
The skies are gloomy, the streets are empty and the survivors are suffering.
A surprising beacon of light is offered when we learn that since we last saw him, Tony Stark had a daughter with his fiancee Pepper Potts (Gwenyth Paltrow) and lives peacefully in seclusion.
The introduction of Ironman’s daughter, Morgan Stark (Alexandra Rabe), is just one example of the heartwarming moments that Marvel’s been able to provide.
It also gives Stark an opportunity to be more than just Iron Man.
Stark is a character who views things on a larger scale than just about everyone else in the MCU.
The film brilliantly puts Stark’s love for his family to the test to show just how much he has changed.
As Captain America and Natasha urge one another to move on from the devastation of the snap, they are shocked to see Scott Lang/Ant Man (Paul Rudd) is at the front door of the Avengers headquarters.
Lang tells them that while he was thought to be wiped from existence, he was actually in the “Quantum realm,” a dimensional plane of existence that doesn’t follow the same rules of time and space.
He suggests they use the Quantum technology to travel back in time to stop Thanos from collecting the stones and using them to bring everyone back.
The three of them make an attempt to get Tony to help them do this.
Once Stark is on board, they assemble the team they need to retrieve the stones.
This includes Hawkeye who’s changed drastically since he lost his family because of what Thanos did.
He goes from the most grounded avenger, to a dangerous anti-hero who can’t seem to find peace. It takes his other family, The Avengers and an opportunity to save his actual family to bring him back to who he’s been since his role in the first Avengers film.
Thor has also lost his way, becoming an out of shape alcoholic wallowing in self-pity since failing to stop Thanos.
Eventually he is convinced by Bruce Banner who has managed to merge with the Hulk in order to get the “best of both worlds.”
Act two and beyond is where “Avengers Endgame” truly flexes its muscles and takes the story from a pessimistic pity story of their popular heroes and turns it into an exciting trip down memory lane.
The heroes separate into groups to go back in time to points that they remember encountering infinity stones in an attempt to intercept them and recreate Thanos’ snap in reverse.
This makes for a very compelling hour or so of screen time when the audience gets a chance to revisit some of the most iconic scenes from different movies throughout MCU’s rich history.
Rather than just settle for a chase of the infinity stones, the film digs deeper and gives certain characters the emotional boost they need by using their past to brighten their future.
Tony Stark runs into his father and is given the closure and perspective he always wanted. Captain America gets to see his old love interest, Peggy Carter and is reminded of a time when he felt like he belonged.
Even Thor finds purpose again after an encouraging encounter with his mother.
Along the way, viewers we’re even given the last cameo of the great Stan Lee, the man who made this cinematic dominance possible.
The second act is unquestionably the most uplifting and humorous of Endgame’s three acts, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t moments of high intensity.
Longtime Friends Hawkeye and Black Widow pair up to get the soul stone only to realize the danger that they’re in after it’s too late.
The stone requires a sacrifice of that with which you love, a soul for a soul.
The two friends struggle with one another in attempt to sacrifice themselves so that the other may live.
Hawkeye attains the soul stone, but the cost is so great it hardly feels like an accomplishment.
Meanwhile, Thanos discovers that the Avengers are coming from a different timeline to interfere with his plans and put an end to what he believes to be his destiny.
The heroes regroup after collecting the stones only to realize Natasha’s absence.
As heartbreaking as it is, there’s hardly time to mourn as the heroes need to worry about the goal at hand.
Tony has built a glove capable of handling the stones raw power. Bruce Banner executes the snap and brings back the lives that were lost.
Before getting a chance to celebrate, the heroes are thrust into the fight of their lives and the most epic battle in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
“Avengers: Endgame” gives the audience a different Thanos than the one in “Infinity War” which proves to be a very beneficial decision.
In the last Avengers film, Thanos has a logic and worldview that makes his actions seem more justified.
This time around, Thanos is without the infinity stones for the duration of the final battle and his goal shifts from wiping out half of all life to make sure nobody is without resources, to destroying the entire universe and recreating it in his image.
“I thought that by eliminating half of life, the other half would thrive, but you’ve shown me that’s impossible. As long as there are those that remember what was, there will always be those unable to accept what can be,” he tells the MCU’s big three of Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor.
Making this change not only allows Thanos to become easier to root against but is a tactic to make you emotionally invested in his demise at the hands of Marvel’s greatest heroes.
Thanos and his army face-off against nearly every hero that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has to offer in a who’s who of the MCU.
Fast paced, action-packed and beautifully shot, this final battle is the culmination of not only a two-movie journey that the Avengers have been on, but is a fitting end cap to an era of Marvel cinema. Each of the 22 films in the MCU strengthens one another in a unique way.
Perhaps Marvel’s greatest strength is creating moments.
In a movie filled with memorable events, the ending of the final battle ranks very high.
Thanos recycles his quote from earlier in the film when he believes he’s won yet again saying, “I am inevitable,” while snapping his fingers to put an end to the avengers for good.
To his surprise, Tony Stark is the one with the Infinity Gauntlet and the final battle of “Avengers Endgame” ends with the same words that ended the first film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe — “I, am Iron Man.”
Tony Stark snaps his fingers to end all the chaos, however, the power generated by the act kills him.
“Avengers Endgame” is an example of the franchise doing what it has done time and time again, using something as grim as death as an opportunity to make one of its characters seem as noble as ever.
While the future of the MCU may be unclear, there’s no doubt that they have a solid foundation to work off of.
“Avengers:Endgame” takes this foundation and uses it to show everything that a superhero film and Universe can be.