‘Avengers: Endgame’ is the Satisfying Culmination of a Cinematic Legacy

Spoilers for the previous Marvel installment, ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ follow.

Part of the journey is the end. And the end is nothing short of glorious.

Avengers: Endgame is the culmination of an entire universe that spans eleven years and twenty-one theatrical movies, the ending to a journey that began sometime after Tony Stark blurted out “I am Iron Man” in 2008. For years, Marvel movies have delivered a satisfying journey to those who have been part of the journey for the long haul, creating stories that not only deliver wonderful gripping action sequences, but characters that are real, flawed, and conflicted. All that comes together in Endgame, which puts the characters at their most personal and vulnerable positions yet. Endgame follows last years’ Infinity War, in which our characters are still struggling with the fallout of Thanos snapping his fingers and wiping out half of all living creatures throughout the universe. Like the finale of Infinity War, this movie showcases the personal impact this fallout has had on our heroes, reflecting their emotional state, and the losses they’ve been faced with. As all great finales do, Endgame certainly features a wide range of CGI action battles, but where it thrives greatly is when it dwells on showcasing the characters at their core through their flawed, broken states caused by Thanos and years of incredible character development over the span of twenty previous films.

The journey is sometimes rough, and Endgame is certainly just that. We don’t just mean emotionally, because Endgame is a roller-coaster of emotions, but creatively, the plot of the film is met with some difficulties sandwiched into the middle of the story right up to the climax. There is never a point in which this conclusion is anything but entertaining, but its troubling decisions will certainly have (and by all means should have) some fascinating implications for the universe at large. Endgame gets bogged down by logic that doesn’t always match up, but it certainly makes for entertaining storytelling, even if it ultimately is quite troubled at times. While every single film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has led to these moments, Endgame is a lot, sometimes even just a bit too much for its good–but where it succeeds, it thrives brilliantly.

Joe and Anthony Russo build upon the character development that they’ve laid the groundwork for in their last three Marvel films, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, and Avengers: Infinity War. Just like Thanos, they ensure that everything is perfectly balanced, as all things in this universe should be, creatively balancing story arcs and development, that even after the fallout of an overcrowded blockbuster that had featured almost every MCU character to date, these characters continue to remain balanced and grounded. Audiences will laugh, cry, and cheer because these characters continue to be real and the audience connects with their personal struggles, some of which have been plaguing these characters from the very beginning of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Avengers: Endgame is that brilliant payoff. It’s more than a comic book nerds’ dream (because watching these movies lately have felt like a comic book has jumped up and sprung to life), its the continuation of everything you love about these characters that brought you to buy a ticket for this movie in the first place. Where Endgame is the gripping and exciting cultivation of years of excitement, it’s also the reminder that this journey would be meaningless without the great characters that audiences have come to connect with through the years. Indeed, part of the journey is the end, but the grounded real stories etched deep within this universe is why this endgame is so personal; and so perfect.

Avengers: Endgame is the payoff of years of anticipation, post-credit teasers, and shocking cliffhangers. It’s emotional, hilarious, gripping, and truly meaningful. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been a steady flow of great cinematic achievements, and Endgame is the most satisfying conclusion to an endlessly ambitious cinematic endeavor.

We’re in the endgame now, and it’s everything you could have wanted–and so much more.

Avengers: Endgame opens in theaters nationwide on April 26th, with screenings beginning Thursday, April 25th.