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Avengers: Endgame’ Wraps Things Up With A Mix Of Humor, Emotion

Spoiler-Free Review of Marvel’s latest film

Photo credit: Disney/Marvel

Two of my favorite characters in "Avengers: Endgame," Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Nebula (Karen Gillan).

Companion viewing

"The Avengers" (2012)

"Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 1" (2014)

"Avengers: Infinity War" (2018)

"Avengers: Endgame" finally arrives in theaters with early screenings starting Thursday night. Here's a spoiler-free review.

It’s been a long wait but "Avengers: Endgame" is here. I have friends who have been staying off the Internet and social media to make sure they do not accidentally run across any spoilers — I respect that and have done the same myself. But there is some irony to the plea for not revealing any spoilers when there's a trailer for a new "Spider-Man" movie, Disney is talking about a series with "Hawkeye," and Scarlett Johansson looks to be getting a standalone Black Widow movie. Whatever happens in "Endgame," we know that we will be seeing some of these characters again in some shape or form. And that has nothing to do with revealing anything from the film.

If you have been following the nearly two-dozen films over the past 12 years you won’t be disappointed by "Endgame." But if this is your first Marvel film you may scratch your head and wonder what all the fuss is about.

Spoiler-Free 'Avengers: Endgame' Review

Producer Kevin Feige deserves high praise for masterminding the franchise and working diligently to make the Marvel film universe feel like a cohesive whole, despite the films varying widely in quality and tone, and coming from a number of different directors. "Endgame" is not the end of the Marvel Comic Universe, or MCU, on the big screen but it does bring to a close a particular story arc with some of the actors, regardless of the fate of their characters, leaving the franchise. So even though we know we will be seeing some of these characters again there is a sense of something coming to an end and the torch being passed. The film makes you realize, as did the end of "Infinity War," just how much you have come to love some of these characters and will miss hanging out with them.

Photo credit: Disney/Marvel

Steve Rogers (Chris Evans, center) and the remaining Avengers try to deal with the loss of their friends and formulate a new plan to defeat Thanos in "Avengers: Endgame."

"Endgame" picks up where "Infinity War" left off with half the living creatures turned to dust by Thanos’ casual snap of his Infinity Gauntlet encased fingers. "Infinity War" ended with us saying goodbye to such favorites as Black Panther, Spider-Man, Vision, Groot and more. We find the remaining Avengers in mourning and still reeling from the losses. But they are still seeking a means by which they might reverse what happened and "Endgame" is the story of what they attempt to do to get their friends back.

The Russo brothers, who also directed "Infinity War" and a pair of outstanding "Captain America" sequels, wrap everything up with a proper mix of teary-eyed sentiment and good-natured humor. I have some minor complaints, most notably that I wish the characters of Thanos (Josh Brolin) and Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) had been put to better use. The trailer teased a little scene between Captain Marvel and Thor that revealed some chemistry that is never really built upon. A little more of the camaraderie that was so engaging in "Guardians of the Galaxy" and "Thor: Ragnarok" would have been nice but with so much plot to get through there's not as much time for characters to just be hanging out and enjoying each other's company.

Photo credit: Disney/Marvel

Thanos' armor in the field in "Avengers: Endgame."

As for Thanos, I have always been sad that the film eliminated of his chief motivations that were set out in the comic "Infinity Gauntlet" for destroying half the universe, he was trying to impress Lady Death, whom he was smitten with. Killing so many living creatures and a host of Avengers was meant to impress her and the fact that he was some kind of lovesick boy just makes him a more interesting and in many ways more interestingly flawed villain. Plus, there's the added bonus of Lady Death not impressed by him but attracted to Deadpool. I guess that would have been a lot more complicated but I do miss that. As portrayed in "Infinity War," Thanos seemed almost too rational. As something of a misanthrope, I thought his idea of randomly wiping out half the living beings made perfect sense. But I digress.

Photo credit: Marvel

Thanos and Lady Death in the Marvel Comic "Infinity Gauntlet."

Overall "Endgame" delivers what it needs to. Although three hours long it never felt slow or draggy thanks to a narrative that is constantly cross-cutting between multiple storylines. The Russos pack in the action and serve up some epic battles. What's also nice is how they try to bring back almost every actor who has had a speaking part in a Marvel film for some kind of cameo. This is where having seen all the films helps. Otherwise, you may be baffled but a sudden round of applause or sudden sniffles from the people around you. The film has a wonderful sense of respect for the history that has been built before it and it feels good. We even get to see Stan Lee again.

As the film meant to wrap things up "Endgame" is something that fans are eager to see but I'm not sure it's a film that they will be eager to watch repeatedly. That's not a bad thing but it is something that may affect its box office grosses as Marvel and Disney hope to see it surpass "Captain Marvel." It has less to do with how well the film is made and more to do with the purpose it serves in a franchise. Like with the "Lord of the Rings" film; I can rewatch "The Fellowship of the Ring" more often and with more joy than when I return to "The Return of the King."

I don't want to reveal any plot specifics but I will say that my main takeaway now that this story arc is done is that I really want a film featuring the Thor from "Endgame" and Rocket. I absolutely love those two together. That's my choice for the next story arc.

"Avengers: Endgame" finally arrives in theaters with early screenings starting Thursday night. Here's a spoiler-free review.

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