‘Avengers: Endgame’ finishes a story 11 years in the making

Graham Shapley

Spoiler Warning: There will not be spoilers for the “Avengers: Endgame” ending, but spoilers for the previous Avengers title, “Infinity War” is required for context.

“Avengers: Endgame” is a tough movie to define, because it feels less like a single film and more like a payoff to over a decade of filmmaking.

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It’s rare that a movie comes out which has so much homework required. “Avengers: Endgame” is the 22nd film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a franchise which has been so ubiquitous and ingrained in society that it’s hard to remember a time when two to three quality superhero flicks didn’t come out in a year.

The MCU kicked off in 2008 with Iron Man, starring Robert Downey Jr as the incomparable Tony Stark, and continuing on for 11 years with more planned for the future. Chris Evans signed on as Captain America shortly afterward, and as the universe expanded, it created a whole cinematic canon all its own.

Although not every prior film is required to understand “Endgame,” the film expects that viewers know these characters and their arcs. The proper Avengers films, plus “Captain America: Civil War,” are all that a viewer would need to understand what’s going on, but in order to catch every last bit of character arcs and motivations, almost all of the films improve upon this one.

The film picks up roughly where the story left off in “Infinity War,” when The Avengers were beaten by Thanos. The antagonist snapped his fingers and half of all living beings in the Universe were killed off unceremoniously, wafting off into dust particles. Like most people predicted, this left the Earth hoplelessly destroyed. The movie puts the focus on the main six Avengers: the aforementioned Tony Stark and Captain America, plus Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk, Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, and Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye.

With several of the Avengers dead, the only thing that the heroes can do is track down Thanos and try to undo what he’s done. After the chaos that “Infinity War” left off on, the original Avengers aren’t exactly the dignified heroes we’re used to seeing. Iron Man, after almost dying in space and being rescued by Captain Marvel, is thin and frail– a ‘stark’ contrast from his usual arrogant attitude. Captain America, the usual leader and optimist of the group, loses confidence in the attempt to bring half of Earth’s population back and encourages people to move on. Thor is back in Asgard and is an alcoholic who plays video games, becoming an unrecognizable version of himself. Black Widow, the most hopeful of the group, is still trying to hold what is left of the Avengers together to keep society running. While many of the other Marvel characters slowly begin to band together throughout the film, “Endgame” emphasizes the original Avengers characters to tie all the stories together and create a sense of nostalgia for everyone’s favorite superheroes. 

Despite being three hours long, the movie actually breezes by. “Endgame” moves at high speed, with few detours.

“Avengers: Endgame” is now playing in theatres.

Even the standard criticisms of the Marvel formula are hard to apply to “Endgame:” the idea that there are going to be no real consequences are dismissed relatively early in the movie, and even though the majority of movie-goers predict that the good guys are going to win in the end, the cost of their victory provides a sense of tension. The status quo is going to change almost certainly, it’s just a question of how much.

Should you see it? Yes.

Let’s be honest, if you wanted to see it, you already have. If you were on the fence but enjoyed the other Marvel films, this is required viewing. “Endgame” is the payoff to an 11-year cultural phenomenon, and another film like it isn’t coming any time soon, especially with the failure of other cinematic universes at getting off the ground.

Marvel has pulled off something that only they could. Whether you’re tired of their lineup or you’re a super-fan, it’s worth seeing what their “Endgame” is. If you can go in a packed theatre filled with other people laughing and crying along with you, all the better.

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“Endgame” is the end of an era: it may not necessarily hold up on its own, but with everything that came before, it’s truly something special. 

Collegian reporter Graham Shapley can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com and on Twitter @shapleygraham.