After the devastating events of Avengers: Infinity War (2018), the universe is in ruins. With the help of remaining allies, the Avengers assemble once more in order to undo Thanos’ actions and restore order to the universe. (from IMDb)
Expectation is different for everyone. How do you conclude a 21-movie run in one epic finale? Director brothers Anthony and Joe Russo had their work cut out for themselves when they agreed to make the final two Avengers films in a 2-part epic finale. While they gave us two of the strongest Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War, they proved to be up to the task with last summer’s exciting, fun and utterly devastating Avengers: Infinity War. So how exactly do you follow up a movie that ends with half of humanity being wiped from existence with the snap of the fingers?
Avengers: Endgame has been shrouded in secrecy since the beginning, and even the film’s advertising campaign has been cryptic if not downright misleading. And this is good–really good! It’s actually nice to go into a movie for a change with it being a complete surprise (meanwhile, Warner Bros. can’t seem to show enough of Godzilla: King of the Monsters to us ahead of its release). To follow suit, I’ll do my best to talk about Endgame *without* giving away major plot points, but I will freely talk about Avengers: Infinity War as if the reader has seen it already — as well as all of the films up until this point in the MCU.
Infinity War was such a beautifully odd duck. It’s a very serious, very weighty film that also happens to have some very funny moments as well as some really great and fun action scenes (The whole fight on Titan against Thanos still makes me a bit giddy after several viewings. It’s just so fun. And c’mon — Thanos pulls down and throws a MOON at Iron Man!). The ending was a much talked about jaw-dropper in which Thanos–the film’s big bad (and really the looming evil over much of the 18 films before it)–gets all six “Infinity Stones” and literally wipes out half of the universe. The UNIVERSE–not just Earth! Half of ALL beings is gone. That’s how the movie ends. Granted, Marvel only scared and dismayed a portion of their fanbase, because news of sequels involving characters that were erased included Spider-Man (who has a new movie out this summer), and other characters–like Black Panther–had just smashed the box office, and we’re supposed to believe he’s gone for good already? C’mon. So we all knew Avengers 4 would at least have to bring back SOME of the erased people somehow. Titled after what Doctor Strange states is “We’re in the endgame now” (after he gives up the Time Stone to save Tony Stark/Iron Man’s life), Avengers: Endgame takes place after half of the universe was wiped out, and it serves as a finale for the Marvel films we’ve been watching since Iron Man debuted in 2008.
Three hours is an appropriate and generous run time to give this run of films its swan song (The series will continue, just not in the same direction and with all of the same characters. This run of movies revolves heavily around Thanos). Do some of the deaths from Infinity War stick? Oh, yes. I won’t say who, though. And do we lose any more in Endgame. Yes, sadly, we do. It does bring serious weight to the storyline, to the actions of the characters, and to the severity of the situations presented. The diehard fans are very, very invested at this point, 11 years in, and the MCU isn’t going to wrap up this series of films without making us feel the gravity of this wrap-up. But, thankfully, the Russo brothers know how to inject some really serious emotional themes and moments into this story. They definitely tackle what it’s like for the world to exist without half of its inhabitants, and we see how all of it affects–and changes some of–our heroes. Unfortunately, the way things are handled isn’t all gravy (I was not a fan at all of what happens with Thor’s changes, for example), and you probably shouldn’t spend too much time trying to work out the logic of some of the science in the film, but what everyone accomplished here is something truly amazing. Ideas and moments started in films a decade ago are touched on and carried through here. It’s truly remarkable. Characters pop up you’d never think would, and fan service is delivered in ways you never even realized you wanted but are so thankful is delivered. I grin from ear to ear just recalling some of those moments. I am a little afraid that repeat viewings of Endgame might reveal some of its flaws more glaringly to me, but the first viewing, at the very least, was such a ride, it’s hard to deny that experience. I did, however, rewatch all but one of the 21 films preceding Endgame in a couple of the weeks prior to seeing this finale (in case you’re wondering, I skipped the 2008 The Incredible Hulk since Ruffalo wasn’t even playing the character then, even though the story is officially canon for this cinematic universe). Revisiting all of the films—catching little threads that run through so many of them and watching seeds planted in one film grow and blossom in later ones–just showed me how beautifully designed this franchise is. And it made my Endgame experience that much more fruitful and intense (Oh, I was pretty keyed up for a couple days before seeing this last installment). I also found myself liking installments I previously only thought were okay (or even disappointing–like Avengers: Age of Ultron) so much more during this most recent run.
I did catch the movie on IMAX and I highly recommend it if you can see it in this premium format. The screen is beautifully gigantic and literally shows more picture than you’ll get on a standard screen size.
The content for Endgame is similar to what you saw in Avengers: Infinity War or anything the Russos have directed in the MCU thus far. However, there’s slightly more uses of the “S” word, and definitely some more gruesome moments (including an alien character’s head being sliced off shockingly in a quick shot, and a miscellaneous man’s throat being cut with some bloody results). There’s quite a bit of action, as well as some very emotional sequences, especially when some characters are inevitably killed off. There isn’t anything sexual in the film, but a very subtle (and unnecessary) moment during a group therapy session near the start of the film has a miscellaneous male character talking about trying to move on with his life after losing his partner and, following a date he just went on, deciding to see “him” again. (Oddly enough, this character is even a cameo by one of the film’s directors.) It felt really out of place for this film and even the MCU, even though it’s handled in a passing and fleeting way here.
Before seeing the film, I’d heard that Avengers: Endgame “exceeded expectations.” I’m happy to say that it actually really does. There’s so much done here that harvests little seeds planted in films through the years, gives major fan service to the diehards, and gives us a highly entertaining, highly emotional epic superhero film. The acting here is solid all-around, too, which helps sell so many scenes that would be nothing without great actors driving them. While I don’t think I’d consider it my favorite of the MCU–and if Infinity War was more like Empire Strikes Back, then Endgame definitely works as its Return of the Jedi, so to speak–it’s definitely high up on the scale of solid Marvel entries. If you’re loving the MCU, make sure you get caught up with the series and then experience an incredible event film in Avengers: Endgame on the big screen. (And let me save you the time by letting you know now that there is NO additional scene after the credits.)
– John DiBiase (reviewed: 4/28/19)
Blu-Ray Special Features Review
Along with the feature film in HD, the Blu-Ray/Digital combo pack version of the Avengers: Endgame offers a series of Extras. Firstly, the film looks excellent in HD–maybe even a bit more colorful than in its theatrical presentation. The only thing that surprised me is that the IMAX presentation in theaters boasted like 26% more image, but the aspect ratio for the home release doesn’t seem to include the extra frame image. (Some films change aspect ratio while you’re watching them on home releases — even the first Guardians of the Galaxy does.)
Now, on to the Extras:
Play Movie with Intro (2:33) – Directors Anthony and Joe Russo talk about the big, emotional finale this film brings to the first (long) leg of the MCU, featuring great making-of footage as they talk about wrapping up the Infinity Saga arc. (And here be spoilers! So if you haven’t seen the movie yet, don’t watch this intro till afterwards!)
Avengers Script Security and the Secret Scenes of Infinity War and Endgame (6:20) – Here, they talk about how, in an effort to fight plot detail leaks, the actors don’t get to read the full movie scripts when making the film. Most of them get red-colored partial scripts, but fake scripts, colored blue, are also produced to possibly throw off anyone who gets their hands on them. They then treat viewers in this segment to four mock-alternate scenarios to how they actually play out in the film. So first, the scene plays out in live action form just as it does in the finished film, and then it shifts to silly, stylized animation. The first three are all from Infinity War. In “Loki Plays a Trick,” instead of Thanos crushing his neck, it plays out normally until Thanos grabs Loki, and then it shifts to animation of Loki disappearing away instead, and then escaping in a small ship. “Gamora Shakes It Off” similarly shows her surviving the Soul Stone swap, and then she pleas to Thanos to not carry out his evil plan. “The Vision Crashes” shows Vision surviving having the stone pulled from his head, and he merely acts like a failing computer. Finally, the lone Endgame scene, “Thanos Keeps It Together,” shows Thor smacking Thanos on top of the head with his ax instead.
Gag Reel (1:59) – This short gag reel shows the cast messing around and having fun on set. It definitely looks like they had a blast together. We see some adlibbing in some scenes, and cast messing up their lines (like Downey, who utters a bleeped-out “F” word in one instance). Overall, it’s a decent gag reel. (There’s also 1 bleeped “S” word from Scarlett.)
Deleted Scenes (5:03) – There are only five minutes of deleted scenes, with the bonus deleted scene from the theatrical re-release of Endgame NOT included. (That scene involved Hulk getting the call to help out the team while he was rescuing people from a burning building.) The deleted scenes included are: “Goji Berries,” which is a great little moment between Tony and Pepper in the kitchen. (And their pet alpaca ate her Goji berries.) “Bombs on Board” features Rhodey and Steve talking back at the Avengers base. Rhodes asks Cap why he never jumped out of the plane before it crashed (which resulted in him freezing in the ice). “Suckiest Army in the Galaxy” is one of my favorites here. Rocket reveals to the team that the Chitauri–which the Avengers fought in the 2012 film–are the worst army in the galaxy and asks why they didn’t just destroy the mother ship. In response to Rocket’s ribbing, Tony shaves part of Rocket’s head in retaliation. (Why didn’t they keep this??) “You used to frickin’ live here” is an additional moment between Rocket and Thor in Asgard. (Thor even just openly pees in the Asgard palace.) “Tony and Howard” is more of the father and son talking about their kids. Howard even offers Tony a job. “Avengers take a knee” is an extended moment from the significant death at the end of the climactic battle. They chose to cut this and keep the funeral scene because the Russos thought the two scenes were too similar. However, I actually think this is a much more powerful moment. (Also, this fills the plot hole that revealed that Gamora definitely survived the new snap and we see her walk off!)
Featurettes Setting the Tone: Casting Robert Downey, Jr. (5:25) is the first of three featurettes centered on arguably the biggest heroes in Avengers: Endgame. The Blu-Ray disc lumps them with the “Featurettes,” but the digital copy has them under “The Heroes” and includes concept art and photos for each character. Iron Man’s segment features the crew talking about the risks, inspiration, and inevitable screen test of Robert Downey as Iron Man/Tony Stark. Other actors also talk about him and look back at his performance. For the photos, there’s one Concept Art and 6 Endgame photos.
A Man Out of Time: Creating Captain America (12:19) is about the character throughout the MCU, and we hear from the two writers who got to stick with the character throughout the series. We see some great artwork and concept art as the cast, crew and even Chris Evans himself discuss the character and his strong moral fiber. We find out here that Chris Evans had hesitated in accepting the role of Cap because of the committment to the series it would demand from him. But as he reflects on playing the character, he expresses his gratitude in getting to play Cap and even gets emotional toward the end. It’s a very moving featurette. (1 “a” word) The digital version includes one photo of Concept Art and 11 photos from Endgame.
Black Widow: Whatever It Takes (7:25) – Scarlett and the crew talk about her character’s metamorphosis over the years, and how Natasha was able to find new, deeper purpose by joining the Avengers. The digital version includes one Concept Art image and 9 photos from Endgame.
Remembering Stan Lee (7:16) – This is a great tribute to Stan Lee’s legacy and the cameos he had from all of the previous films. I believe this is the exact tribute that showed at the end of the film’s theatrical re-release.
The Russo Brothers: Journey to Endgame (5:01) – The Russo’s talk about their experience with the MCU, making the two Captain America sequels and getting involved with the two Avengers ones. (1 “bad *ss”)
The Women of the MCU (4:52) is about filming that iconic moment where they all unite during the climactic battle, and the actresses talk about the experience and what it means for female fans. (2 “kick *ss”)
Bro Thor (3:43) is dedicated to Thor’s change in this film, what he went through to change his appearance (like using a fat suit!), and how he was like an entirely new character. They also talk about how he regains his purpose in this film as the Avengers pull him back in. (1 “p*ssed”)
Digital Exclusive: Steve and Peggy: One Last Dance (5:55) – This digital exclusive featurette (It’s NOT on the blu-ray disc) covers the characters of Peggy Carter and Steve Rogers separately, as well as their relationship together. Hayley Atwell also talks about how passionate the fans have been, longing for Steve and Peggy to have been together from the beginning. They also address Steve’s choice to go back to her.
– John DiBiase, (reviewed: 8/9/19)
Parental Guide: Content Summary
Sex/Nudity: A man in a therapy session mentions going out on a date with another man; A female character shows some cleavage in the outfit they’re wearing.
Vulgarity/Language: Roughly 8 “S” words, 1 “J-sus,” 2 “g-dd-mn,” 1 “S.O.B,” 6 “h*ll,” 6 “a” words, 2 “d*mn,” 1 “d*ckhead,” 5 “Oh my G-d,” 5 “G-d,” 1 “cr*p,” 2 “p*ss;” A little girl repeats the “S” word that she overhears her father say. He corrects her that she shouldn’t say it.
Alcohol/Drugs: Thor is seen drinking and/or drunk during several scenes in the film.
Blood/Gore: An alien character’s arm and side of their head is shown very burned and scarred; An alien character’s arm is cut off and we briefly see the stump of the arm. We then see a quick motion of their head being lopped off, with a spray of purple blood on another character’s face. We then see the head lying on the ground with the face frozen in position; A hooded character stabs and slashes a man several times (with some blood on his clothing). He then slashes the man’s throat and the man grabs the wound. There’s a lot more blood on his neck and hands then; A character falls from a great height and dies. We briefly see a pool of red blood beneath their head; An alien character is shown with a somewhat burned arm; Several multi-armed monsters chase a person who slashes their limbs off with a sword; A man has some blood on their face, around their eye; Some characters have bloodied scrapes on their faces during or after battle; Cap has blood on his mouth and some visible cuts on his arm and leg during a fight; A human character’s arm and side of their face is shown slightly disfigured and burned for a few minutes.
Violence: Some potential spoilers ahead: LOTS of comic book style action violence. A person looks sickly and emaciated after nearly starving to death. After flipping out in anger at some people, they fall over; A group of heroes overpower an alien character and chop off its arm. One character unexpectedly cuts off its head and we see it lying on the ground (but from the chin-up, so we don’t see blood); We see a hooded man with knives and swords slashing and stabbing criminals in a few scenes. In one sequence, he stabs a man and slices his throat (which is somewhat bloody); A person shocks another person, then two people fall off the side of a cliff and one falls to their death (we see blood on the ground under their head); A character knocks out another character, who falls over unconscious; We see two characters fighting in a training competition; A man is shown having a slight heart attack and he falls over. Another character gives them a jolt to bring them out of it; A robotic character is shot in the chest and dies; Two characters fight each other in an extended fist fight; We see a energy rockets blow up a large building, causing characters to be buried underneath. One struggles while trapped under rock. Others almost drown; Several multi-armed monsters chase a man through underground tunnels and he shoots them and slices off some of their limbs; A character has a large ax pushed towards their chest and we see it start to pierce through the victim’s armor (before they’re saved at the last minute); There are many intense fight scenes during the climax, involving multiple heroes fighting with many alien creatures; A human character’s arm and side of their face is shown slightly disfigured and burned for a few minutes. And lots of other action violence.