Avengers: Endgame, the epic conclusion to a culmination of more than 10 years of interconnected movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, was released on April 24. The highly anticipated film sold a record-setting two million plus pre-release tickets, quickly surpassing the previous record set by its predecessor, Avengers: Infinity War. Demand for tickets was so high that major Korean ticketing sites such as CGV and Megabox crashed for several hours on the first day of pre-sales. The movie met the outstanding pre-release expectations, delivering a satisfying, thrilling, and touching end to Marvel’s previous decade of setup.
Endgame picks up where Avengers: Infinity War left off. Earth’s mightiest heroes are scattered after Thanos wiped out half of all life by snapping his fingers. The devastated heroes begin the film separated, with some stranded in space while others remain dumbfounded on Earth. Thanos has vanished, disappearing into a portal at the end of Infinity War. Along with him, he has taken the infinity gauntlet and six infinity stones, which when combined can give the wielder god-like power. The remaining Avengers who survived Thanos’ snap from the previous movie must regroup and figure out their next plan of attack.
One wise decision by directors Joe and Anthony Russo is that Endgame highlights the grave consequences of Thanos’ genocidal snap from Infinity War. Although many Hollywood blockbusters would quickly brush aside the implications of a world literally reduced by half, Endgame makes sure to hammer in the emotional shellshock of the heroes. The portrayal of the devastating global fallout creates a deep emotional investment in the traumatized world of the movie. This intense depiction of a broken society elevates the stakes of Endgame. The Avengers may have faced the threat of global destruction before, but never has it felt so real or personal.
Another strength of the movie is its improvement as a character film compared to its predecessor. Infinity War was filled to the brim with more than 40 speaking role characters. With so many cast members and limited screen time, not all of the Avengers were prominently featured, including fan favorites such as Captain America. Instead of pushing along character narratives within the movie itself, Infinity War often relied on the previous development of heroes from stand-alone films. On the contrary, Endgame benefits from a cast reduced by half, courtesy of Thanos’ snap, and a whopping runtime of three hours. As a result, the movie is much more compelling character-wise than the previous film, as more of the heroes see deeper level growth. For example, the Russo brothers show how each Avenger deals with the new, reduced world in very different ways. These and other more nuanced takes on the protagonists create a new, compelling aspect of Endgame to enjoy that was otherwise missing from Infinity War.
Although Avengers: Endgame is fantastic in its own right, as an isolated film, it is not necessarily groundbreaking. Yes, it has superb acting, witty comedy, seat-gripping drama, tear jerking heartbreak, and excellent action. However, what elevates Endgame from great to historic is its role as a culmination of an entire cinematic universe. Endgame is not a self-contained adventure, but rather an epic conclusion to an unprecedented 11-year, 22-movie storyline that all Marvel movies before it had been leading up to. Fans have watched the Avengers blossom as a team in their first ensemble movie, followed the growth of individual characters in stand-alone films, and witnessed the breakup of the Avengers in Captain America: Civil War. Avengers: Endgame perfectly completes this saga in a satisfying, heartfelt manner, and as a cumulative Marvel Cinematic Universe experience rather than stand alone film, reaches new heights.
While Endgame is best enjoyed with the context of the previous Marvel films, it is still a worthwhile watch for casual fans who have not seen some or all of the previous movies. The superb action scenes and special effects alone make the ticket well worth the price. The movie succeeded in its herculean task of meeting the overwhelming expectations and hype leading up to its release. As spoilers begin to circulate the Internet and among friends, Avengers: Endgame is a must-watch blockbuster this spring.