The Marvel Cinematic Universe, which currently stands at 23 movies (now known as “The Infinity Saga”) is the biggest film franchise of all time in terms of worldwide box office. Yet, the interconnectedness of the characters and stories, an element brought over from the Marvel comic books, has made the endeavor seem more like a TV series. While Spider-Man: Far From Home is the final chapter, it feels more like an epilogue in comparison to the scale, scope, and consequences of Avengers: Endgame.
It opens with a brief reminder that Avengers: Infinity War concluded with the heroes having failed to stop Thanos (Josh Brolin) from obtaining all the Infinity Stones, which allowed him to obliterate half of all life in the universe. The Avengers seek out Thanos to undo his work, but when they find him, it’s too late because he’s destroyed the stones.
Cut to five years later, and folks are still dealing with the trauma. Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) roams the world as a vigilante. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is suffering depression and using alcohol to cope in New Asgard. In San Francisco, Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) emerges from the Quantum Realm, but for him, only five hours have passed. He goes to Avengers HQ with an idea of time traveling through the Quantum Realm to set things right. Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) is married to Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and has a young daughter. He is happy with his life and retired from being a superhero. Yet, he can’t stop thinking about it and figures out how to make time travel work.
The plan is for the Avengers to break into three teams and retrieve the Stones from the past, which means they go back into three MCU movies, reminiscent of Back to the Future II. Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), Tony, Scott, and a Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) who now uses Bruce Banner’s brain go back to New York City 2012 (Marvel’s The Avengers). While the first three have to get the two of the stones from the Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, Hulk heads to Dr. Strange’s future Sanctum Sanctorum for the Time Stone. The Ancient One (Tilda Swinson) is there (audiences can now see she was helping during the battle against the the Chitauri), and she isn’t willing leave her timeline unprotected. Thor and Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) head to Asgard 2013 (Thor: The Dark World) and Thor encounters his mother Frigga (Rene Russo) on the day she dies. James Rhodes/War Machine (Don Cheadle) and Nebula (Karen Gillian) head to Morag 2014 (Guardians of the Galaxy) before Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) can get the stone while Clint and Natasha/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) head to Vormir where they discover the same deal Thanos was given: to get the Soul Stone, a sacrifice has to be made, meaning one of our heroes won’t be returning.
The screenwriters don’t make it easy on our heroes. In New York, Steve has to fight a younger version of himself for one stone, and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) makes off with the other. Unable to go back empty handed, Tony and Steve go back even further to 1970 to retrieve the stone Loki took and to pick up more Pym Particles. Unexpectedly, the cybernetics in 2019 Nebula link with her past self, revealing to 2014 Thanos the Avengers’ plan. With the Stones collected in one place, he travels to 2019 with his minions to get them.
Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man battle Thanos in a fight scene that highlights three of the heroes that have been in the franchise the longest. It’s fun to see them work in tandem, and for fans of the franchise, there’s a thrilling moment as Cap gets a new weapon to use. In typical comic-book fashion, when the odds are overwhelming and all seems hopeless, “the cavalry” arrives. But not without the MCU being forever changed by the film’s end.
The video has been given a 1080p encoded transfer displayed at an aspect ratio of 2.39:1. Matching Endgame‘s emotional tone, a lot of scenes, both interior and exterior, are dark which mutes the colors. When the setting is bright, such as on Asgard, so are the colors. Whites are affected in a similar manner while blacks are inky. The texture detail in the CGI work of costumes and settings blends well with natural objects and actors. The picture is clean and the focus sharp.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 offers an immersive experience. Dialogue is clean and clear. Alan Silvestri’s score swells in the surrounds, which are populated throughout with effects heard in position in the soundspace or moving across channels. Bass delivers satisfying oomph when called upon. The elements strike a balance in the mix and the track doesn’t overwhelm like some blockbusters. Not a reference quality, but it does just enough with what it has to offer.
On Disc 1, there’s an introduction by the Russo Brothers (3 min) as well as audio commentary with them and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely chatting together. On Disc 2, the Featurettes have a play-all option. “Remembering Stan Lee” (7 min) – Lee talks about his various cameos. A few brief segments look at main Avengers: “Setting the Tone: Casting Robert Downey Jr.” (5 min) – How RDJ got the role that launched the MCU. “A Man out of Time: Creating Captain America” (12 min) – The backbone of the MCU. “Black Widow: Whatever It Takes” (7 min). “Bro Thor” (4 min). Not enough time to cover “The Russo Brothers: Journey to Endgame” (5 min) or “The Women of the MCU” (5 min).
There are six Deleted Scenes (5 min) with uncompleted Rocket in a couple. Most notable is our heroes taking a knee for a fallen comrade, which seems like the one that should have been left in. The Gag Reel (2 min) – They never seem long enough and with this many actors and opportunities for things to go wrong, it’s especially to short. There’s a digital extra: “Steve and Peggy: One Last Dance.”
Avengers: Endgame is a movie for fans of the franchise as anyone starting here will surely be lost. In Infinity War, characters met for the first time, so there was some explanation of who and what available for the viewer. Here, there’s very little time bringing anyone up to speed because there’s so much to accomplish. Markus and McFeely cover a lot of ground and the Russo Brothers with their crew do a great job in transferring the script to screen.
While there are things to nitpick, from genre tropes of the villain pausing as the heroes assemble to continuity errors like giant-size Ant-Man fighting while Scott tries to start up the van and the “nice idea but terrible execution” of the Girl Power scene since Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) didn’t need anyone’s help on the battlefield, the film’s strength is the connection fans have to the characters/actors, such as with Tony/RDJ which has lasted 11 years. It is those relationships that tug at the heartstrings during the poignant moments when characters say goodbye, directly to each other and indirectly to fans. Endgame is a fitting end of the journey