Packed concession lines. Rowdy children. A sense of buzz and excitement in the air like a festival. Several super fans dressed in costume. Here I was, at last, in the same place as countless others across the world – Avengers: Endgame opening night.
As the last trailers finished, a great silence came across the packed theater. A mix of anticipation and dread, as we began upon what has been advertised as the conclusion to Marvel Studios’ epic 22-film historic run over this past decade.
Leaving the theater 3-hours later, even though it felt far, far, shorter, I could only be in awe.
Avengers Endgame serves as a perfect conclusion to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Undoubtedly there are more films to be made but the interconnected web that was built up, nurtured, and bloomed as the “Avengers” movies came to a beautiful end that feels both right and final.
Initial critics reactions to the film have described frequent teary moments during the movie and for those who have invested in the Marvel universe that will be almost inevitable, as the dreadful events of Avengers: Infinity War now settle into their universe-wide effects.
Endgame however is not “Infinity War 2.” It is its own film and that quickly makes itself felt and apparent. Infinity War, a magnificent achievement, was also the necessary connector to bring together the intertwining of all these different characters’ stories. Endgame therefore does not need to spend time on that setup and uses that opportunity to explore subtle themes in deeper ways that are only possible due to the intricate stories built up through the MCU movies of this past decade.
As viewers of Endgame will quickly come to see and the advertising of the film emphasized heavily, heroism and sacrifice are felt deeply in ways that the other MCU films touched upon. However Endgame is able to bring weight to these themes due to the deep stories that have been crafted over the series, allowing an introspective understanding of what it means to put others above oneself that not only hasn’t been seen before in the MCU but in much of the rest of cinematic history.
As I’ve implied, to fully appreciate Endgame one will need to have seen a good few of the prior movies and have invested in the story to a level deeper than say a viewer watching 2012’s Avengers or 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron needed to.
The flow of Endgame is constant and steady, with a swirling shift between suspense, humor, and action that revolves frequently enough to allow the audience to experience, rest, think, and then repeat.
The film’s exploration of the ideas of heroism and sacrifice are particularly worth noting. Many of the films characters have put themselves in harms way before and taken actions that could very well have been devastating or fatal, according to the rules of the MCU. However loss is undoubtedly also measured not only by the action itself taken but by what one is giving up in the process.
Our Marvel heroes – Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Ant-Man, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and more – have made America and the world dream and wonder for years with extraordinary cultural and philosophical impact. It feels like a deep moment in our collective spirit has passed with the conclusion of the MCU for all intents and purposes.
In many ways too the MCU had run its course, at least in its current fundamental form. There is only so much that can be built up in a connected story, even in a universe as complex and big as the one the MCU developed. Endgame found the right point to close it up and drive home the stories and ideas it had built up over so many years.
Nonetheless, the ideas and themes that the MCU inspired have made an impact on countless millions across the globe. Those beliefs in service, integrity, honor, sacrifice, hard work, brotherhood and sisterhood, family, friends, teamwork, and dedication to a higher calling are positive ideas the MCU has nurtured.
As time moves forward, undoubtedly the impact of the MCU – and Endgame’s incredible and necessary conclusion to it – will continue to be felt.
Re-prints of some of my columns. NOTE: I ran a national weekly column from 2017 to 2018 printed/distributed by newspapers in dozens of states across the country. The 2017-2018 blogs in this section are re-prints of the national column.