Not only does the film having to tie up every thread of the Infinity Saga – the overarching narrative that has snaked its way through the past 22 Marvel films – but it also has to set up the future of the franchise and its (probable) next ten years of films.
Yet, with the reviews now in, it appears fans have nothing to fear: critics have gone wild for Endgame, praising its mix of tragedy and humour, while awing at its ability to provide so many emotional pay-offs, even if it’s aided by the three-hour runtime.
You can check out a round-up of the reviews below.
The Avengers cycle comes to a rich and very satisfying conclusion with Endgame, surely the most complex and emotional superhero movie in Marvel history. At 181 minutes, this is a veritable epic, but with so many characters and plot strands, it fully warrants its lengthy running time.
And however far Endgame stretches to leave every fan exhaustively serviced – there are sequences here that were made to be giffed and memed, and others that look like explosions at memorabilia conventions – the action keeps re-centring itself on its key players, and Downey and Evans in particular: one star the franchise salvaged, and another it forged, both at the peak of their crowd-pleasing powers.
Sure, there’s a touch of Return Of The King syndrome creeping in at the end. Sure, the plot has a particular breed of logic hole that you could drive a bus through. You won’t care. We’re never going to object to another five minutes in the company of this company.
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. Without the comedy, the drama would not be palatable. Yet without the earnest, almost childlike belief in the seriousness of what is at stake, the funny stuff would not work either. As an artificial creation, the Avengers have been triumphant, and as entertainment, they have been unconquerable.
The inside jokes and fan-service digressions are blatant and relentless, but also pretty effective. The conflicting narrative priorities that often bedevil an epic series finale — how to tell a story that builds with inexorable momentum while also staging the mother of all cast reunions? — are cleverly and resourcefully reconciled.
Avengers: Endgame is not the best Marvel movie ever made. It’s not the prettiest or the funniest; it won’t blow your mind with new ideas or complicated character development.
But it is the most Marvel movie ever made, and there’s something incredible about that. This is Marvel flexing, building on over 10 years and 20-plus films of careful groundwork and intricate planning to show us what it can do that no other movie franchise can. As such, it’s an immensely satisfying finish to this era of the series.
If “Infinity War” was billed as a must-see event for all moviegoers, whether or not they’d attended a single Marvel movie prior, then “Endgame” is the ultimate fan-service follow-up, so densely packed with pay-offs to relationships established in the previous films that it all but demands that audiences put in the homework of watching (or rewatching) a dozen earlier movies to appreciate the sense of closure it offers the series’ most popular characters.
The best of the Marvel films — and the Avengers pics are certainly among them — go the extra mile to genuinely engage the audience and not just pander to it. Cutesiness and formula prevail at times, to be sure, but this team knows quite well how to stir the pot. And to turn it into more gold.
With nothing less than the fate of the free world (or at least approximately 50% of it) at stake, there’s an expected urgency to it all, but an underlying melancholy too — not just for everything that’s been lost, but for what won’t be coming back. After 11 years, 22 films, and uncountable post-credit Easter eggs, the endgame of an era has finally come.
Avengers: Endgame will be released in UK cinemas on 25 April.