Directors: Joe and Anthony Russo
Executive Producers: Kevin Feige, Victoria Alonso, Louis D’Esposito, Jon Favreau, Michael Grillo, James Gunn, Stan Lee, and Trinh Tran
Writers: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely
*Based on comic book storylines and characters created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and Jim Starlin
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Karen Gillan, Brie Larson, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Josh Brolin
To adequately put into words the emotions I felt as I watched this epic cinematic event unfold is a nearly impossible task. Along with millions of other fans around the world, I have devoted essentially a decade to this franchise, and all of its characters, actors, and filmmakers. I have watched and rewatched all 20+ films multiple times, poring over every frame and second of footage for symbolism, clues, hints, and references at what may come in the future. Well, we have finally arrived at that moment. Avengers: Endgame is truly everything that hardcore fans of the MCU and Marvel comics could have ever dreamt. Everything you could possibly have asked for is included in this magnificent spectacle.
The MCU has always been guided by its characters. This is what has separated the franchise from other dumb action flicks and mindless escapes. Sure, there have been a handful of missteps along the way, with a few films barely in the range of mediocrity. Still, at the end of the day, we all kept coming back. Every single one of us showed up to the theaters, paid our well-earned money (or, in my case, my parents’ cash), with the hopes of escaping into a fantastical – yet unimaginably relatable and palpable – universe, if only for a couple hours at a time. Each and every film built on one another. Some of these steps were smaller than others, and some might have even appeared as a step back at that moment in time. However, after watching Endgame, I have a deeper appreciation than I ever thought possible for every single MCU title in existence. From the lower end of the scales, such as Thor: The Dark World, to the top tier, like Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Infinity War, every single story thread had meaning. It has all led to this moment, and the reward for our investments in time, energy, and passion is worth more than the entire city of Wakanda.
As the characters have journeyed through 11 years of saving the world, we have cheered, clapped, yelled, laughed, and cried along with them. Incredibly, these reactions are magnified tenfold in Endgame. I have never been in a theater that energetic in my life. (This was a media screening no less, which are usually more subdued than the general public). When all was said and done, I was speechless. Yet, I could not stop talking about what I just watched. I was elated and heart-broken, energized and exhausted, exhilarated and weakened. And of course I realize that makes no sense. But that is what I felt.
This is not a film to casually stroll into for a relaxing afternoon matinee, nor is it a nonstop action thrill ride that never takes a breath. It is these breaths that give it meaning. It is a character-driven drama that just happens to have some science fiction elements and grown men running around in tights. Remarkably enough, while this is essentially the “Return of the King,” or the “Return of the Jedi” of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with a clear, focused ending and a sense of satisfying finality, there are enough story threads that may yet be further fleshed out, and undoubtedly will be in the next phase of these films. Still, if there was never another MCU film released, I would feel utterly contented, fulfilled, and gratified with this story’s conclusion.