8 / 10
Robert Downey Jr. … Tony Stark / Iron Man
Avengers: Endgame Review:
Tony Stark built it in a cave, with a bunch of scraps. That was how the Marvel Cinematic Universe began. Humbly. A man with a plan. Tony Stark or Kevin Feige depending on which one you mean, but it took the idea of this world that only lived in ink on paper and made it a reality. It did the unthinkable, and turned an entire universe into a movie franchise. This isn’t just sequels and prequels we’re talking about, this is an entire text. At one point we all started with the first chapter, and now we’re here at the last. It’s been a wild journey, and in the same way, Avengers: Endgame is a very, very wild journey.
And a weird one.
After Captain America: Civil War, it makes sense why directors Anthony and Joe Russo (and by extension screenwriters Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely) were given the keys to the Marvel cars. It’s not about making cool action scenes, since every Marvel movie has the same feel to its action (Endgame no different); but instead it’s about how they handle these characters. Get them in a room, let them bounce off each other. Let the conversation flow and the dialogue be what makes us love these people, not their tights or their fights, their words. And how they use them. That’s how they choose to spend the first part of the film, a character piece akin to a Richard Linklater movie but with your favorites from the MCU. Like I said, it’s weird, and not what you expect.
Once the plot really kicks off though, the film takes a dramatic shift into a new tone. The same jokes and character rhythms are there of course but the mood and context of these things takes a on a new timbre, and while it always works within the context of these new tones, it’s a dramatic shift each time (and a big shift happens more than once). There’s also the typical undercutting of great, serious character beats with an unneeded joke, but that’s seemingly just the Marvel way now.
But these semi-jarring negatives don’t outweigh the good that’s being outdone in the movie. All of the actors, all of them, are at the top of their game. They’re lived with these characters for years, some of them more than a decade, and they make every gesture, every line, and every moment count. Robert Downey Jr and Chris Evans are phenomenal. They make their characters small when they need to live in a moment, and they lean into their iconic status when it’s required. Chris Hemsworth and Mark Ruffalo have long been the comedic chips on the table, and the manage to bring laughs to the movie in wholly new ways from the likes of Thor: Ragnarok and Infinity War. There’s also Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner, who get to build on their character’s relationship in a way that almost feels the most satisfying. In a word, that’s what the whole movie is though: Satisfying.
Overall, Endgame is three different movies that live inside one (I won’t say what they are just yet, but you can likely surmise this yourself). It’s got shifts in narrative that feel strange, but once the gears start moving it’s hard not to be in awe of it. The cast gets so much to work with and they never feel like they’re stuck in a motion. Even the things you’re expecting to happen, they’re amazing to see. There’s still plenty that will surprise you though, and the movie works because it delivers everything you want and all the things you didn’t know you needed.
So the book is closed. There will certainly be other books that go on the Marvel shelf too, but think about how hard it is just to get Chapter 1 right. How many cinematic universes have started and failed in the time Marvel has been making their own movies? The Dark Universe, Robin Hood, King Arthur, The Amazing Spider-Man, and countless others that are still in development. Many of them tripped on their first time out the door and won’t even see a part 2, but Marvel beat the odds not only by making a first chapter that worked but by surviving, and now, sticking the landing on the ending.