So if you didn’t know, Avengers: Endgame hit theaters and like the good nerds they are Daniel Dunston and Bill Sheehy went to see it on opening night. They were so moved by their experience they decided neither one could write the review alone so they decided to write it together. BS = Bill Sheehy. DD = Daniel Dunston. Bill and Dan’s Excellent Review of Avengers: Endgame begins now!
BS: The landscape of comic book movies has fundamentally changed over the past 10 years, due in no small part to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. When Iron Man came out over a decade ago, I remember very vividly, an MTV Movie Awards skit that featured Robert Downey Jr, where a kid said Iron Man was good but it was screwed once The Dark Knight comes out. It’s funny looking back at it now because of just how massive the MCU and Iron Man has become, gone are the days of Iron Man as an opening act, he’s become the main event. Over the past decade we’ve seen twists and turns, and moments we could only dream of. We’ve had different Hulks and War Machines but through all these movies and stories they’ve delivered characters that we’ve grown with and give a damn about. It’s because of all this growth and care that Avengers:Endgame reaches the euphoric heights it’s able to take us to. We’re in the Endgame now, and what a spectacular place to be.
DD: A common complaint with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or MCU for short, especially as it relates to Avengers: Infinity War is the fact it has so many characters and interconnected stories that it must be impossible to tell one coherent narrative. However, Infinity War managed to tell a narrative focused primarily on its villain but the challenge is different for Avengers: Endgame. The film has cut down much of its large cast of characters after the snap at the end of the last film and it is probably for the best because that means you get to spend more screen time going deeper into the emotional states of the remaining Avengers. Endgame is one of the better Marvel movies with how it handles its characters as you see how they all deal with their own failings. You understand why characters would behave in certain ways because you get a better understanding of who they are.
BS: I think one of the greatest aspects of them dealing with those failings is just how broken and battered our heroes have become. It never feels like the forced dark and grittiness of their counterparts in the DCEU, it’s actually earned and my god is it a perfect way to deal with the emotional gut punch that was the snap at the end of Infinity War. They also find really bold an unexpected ways that our heroes are dealing with such a profound loss. From Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor, without spoiling it, they somehow find the perfect character arcs that show actual character progression over the course of not just this film, but the entirety of the MCU. I just found it so interesting, because how do you deal with such profound loss and what would happen tomorrow if half of the world was just gone? They deal with it in such a human and believable way.
DD: However, let’s not just focus on the darker side of the film here. There is actually a surprising amount of levity and humor there as well. It may seem like it wouldn’t fit in with a story that left off on such a downer but the humor keeps the movie from feeling monotone and unbalanced. Too often, superhero films think they have to choose between lighthearted romp where the plot goes out the window or a serious subdued film that has no place for humor or fun of any kind. Avengers: Endgame balances this perfectly. The humor always seems natural and the quips by the characters seem very true to form of how each character would behave. More importantly, the moments when you are laughing or cheering set you up for the emotionally devastating moments of loss or grief that follow it. The humor never takes away from the characters arcs and the grief never really clouds the brilliant spectacle that brings the fast-paced action people came to see.
BS: Dear God does this movie know how to deal with spectacle! Infinity War was my favorite MCU movie because of its spectacle and heart. I never thought anything would make me get up and cheer louder than Thor triumphantly joining the battle in Wakanda and saving the day, well that was until I saw Endgame, because off the top of my head I can think of three just in this one movie. There are some truly insane moments of pure comic book nerdgasm that made Daniel have to physically sit me down and tell me to shush. When the first Avengers movie came out, so many people said that they never thought we would ever see the Avengers on the big screen and that in itself was an insane achievement. Fast forward to today and I literally cannot believe some of the shots and scenes that the Russo’s have so expertly directed and given us in this film. Beyond the obvious awesome nerdtastic goodness, the movie is really, really pretty to look at, with cinematography that sells the giant spectacle. Daniel and I didn’t see it on an IMAX screen, but I can guarantee you’ll wanna see this on the biggest screen possible.
DD: But this movie isn’t just big set pieces for spandex-clad individuals to punch each other. It is filled with smaller moments that really bring out the heart. There was a quick shot at one point of Tony Stark simply looking at an old photo but Robert Downey Jr’s performance in that scene and the weight he put behind it nearly broke me. Almost every actor in Endgame has at least one moment like that and with a cast this talented it’s easy for them to add weight to those smaller moments. Even amidst the action sequences, you can see smaller moments amongst the characters further developing their relationships and strengthening our connection as an audience with them. That isn’t easy to pull off in a franchise that has been going on for 22 films and 11 years but the Russo brothers pulled it off expertly.
BS: It’s in these smaller moments where Endgame becomes something more than just another comic book movie, or another MCU movie. These moments give us some really jaw-dropping, tear-inducing moments that make this movie so special and why I think it’s important to see this movie more than once to take in everything that happens. I’ve already seen it twice and while I was emotional the first time and was obviously excited to see the movie, the second time I saw it, these moments really hit me and I’m not afraid to admit that I cried at several points throughout the course of the movie. I’ve cared about these characters since I was in middle school and seeing their growth over the past decade really got to me.And what’s so great is that if you’ve paid attention and cared as much as I have, there are great callbacks to the entire MCU. It feels like a fitting conclusion to a series of film that so many people like myself care about.
DD: The MCU callbacks can be a double-edged sword for the movie. The movie has a lot of references to past MCU movies. Some are small, just a line or two of dialogue here and there, but some are larger scenes or more important characters. This is both good and bad. The movie feels like a finale to the entire Marvel storyline so far and so it makes sense to tie everything back into it. The callbacks work to sometimes add levity or drama to scenes that might need it and they reward the viewer for sticking it through 22 movies and investing themselves in this world and its characters. However, if you aren’t familiar with the entire Marvel canon or just don’t remember certain movies that well, you might miss out on some of what the scenes are going for. The movie does assume, probably correctly given the audience it’s going for, that you have an investment in the franchise already and they don’t need to remind you of certain things. The only other kind of nitpick negative I can say for the film is that there are a few moments where plot conveniences are used to expedite the story. For the most part, they are used for smaller moments and usually played for laughs but if that is something that bothers you, you have been warned.
BS: Infinity War had that same issue as well, but honestly if this is your first Marvel movie, good luck! It’s kind of your fault at this point if you haven’t checked out at least one. Beyond that, I did have a few minor problems with the movie and its structure. Once again, we’re not gonna spoil it, but the mission that the Avengers go on can be a bit confusing, and the rules that it sets up can lead to a couple of different inconsistencies in the story. With a 3 hour long movie, I was worried that it may drag on in spots, and there are a couple of spots where I did look at my watch, but on the whole, it really moves at a fast pace and honestly felt about as long as Infinity War. This is as nit-picky as it gets but we really don’t see how the snap affected a lot of the outside world in places like Wakanda, which seemed to be hit pretty hard in Infinity War. That’s 100% a personal nitpick for me but I really wanted to see more from there and I didn’t get that.
DD: Overall, the positives far outweigh the negatives. If you have seen all or even most of these movies, you probably care about the characters already and everything we have said has just made you more excited to see something you were already planning on watching. If you have never seen a Marvel movie before, this is probably not the best one to jump in on. As a capstone to a story that began in 2008, Avengers: Endgame is exactly what it needs to be, a breathtaking emotional thrill ride that leaves you happy to have gone along on the journey and excited to see what the future might hold. Personally, I enjoyed this more than I have any other movie that has come out in the past few years and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
BS: I completely agree. Avengers: Endgame at its best is comic book fans Return of the King, filled with twists, turns, and scenes that we only could have dreamed of as a kid. It’s a thrilling and emotional finale for the Infinity Saga and a fitting conclusion to the past decade of the MCU.
Bill and Dan’s Excellent Score: 9.5/10