Film and TV

Reviews For The Easily Distracted:
Avengers: Endgame

Title: Avengers: Endgame

Describe This Movie In One Lyric From "Sun King":

THE CULT: This is where it all ends.
Brief Plot Synopsis: They couldn't protect the Earth, so you can be damn well sure they're gonna avenge it.

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: 4.5 Melllvars out of 5.

Tagline: "Avenge the fallen."

Better Tagline: "We have a Hulk deep and abiding existential sadness. And Captain Marvel."

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Thanos' snap left trillions dead, including the likes of Black Panther, Spider-Man, Dr. Strange, and every Guardian of the Galaxy not named Rocket (Bradley Cooper). The Avengers fared somewhat better (if you don't count Iron Man stranded in outer space with Nebula). Cap (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and former Big Guy (Mark Ruffalo) confront the immediate aftermath — with the help of new friend Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) — but eventually have to confront a future in which Earth may not need its mightiest heroes anymore.

Just kidding. It still totally needs them.

"Critical" Analysis:
This review will be as spoiler-free as possible. Any references to Squirrel Girl are mere jokes. Honest.

Marvel Studios President/Grand Poobah Kevin Feige says July's upcoming Spider-Man: Far From Home is the final film in so-called "Phase Three" of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and maybe that's true. Thematically, however, Avengers: Endgame marks an immensely rewarding and bittersweet ending to the journey that began with 2008's Iron Man and — a couple missteps along the way notwithstanding — ended up the most critically and financially successful movie franchise of all time.

There's a confidence here that's only possible after a decade of consistent quality, giving directors Anthony and Joe Russo the luxury of taking their time with the final product. Given its runtime, Endgame was probably never going to feel rushed. And yet somehow, it rarely feels overstuffed, because the Russos and their cast of dozens are as locked in as they've ever been.

If you're wondering how this movie could last three hours, given that all the super team introductions have already been made (Carol Danvers met the Avengers in a Captain Marvel stinger) and a bunch of our favorites were "dusted" in Infinity War and Ant-Man and the Wasp, good question. The easiest answer is: Endgame doesn't shy away from the staggering impact of wiping out half the Earth's population.

Given the "deaths" of so many characters, the focus for the bulk of the movie is on the original Avengers: Cap, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, and Clint "Hawkeye" Barton (whose Endgame motivations are established before the opening titles), all of whom come to grips with their failure to defeat Thanos in their own ...  let's call them "thematically consistent" ways.

Aside from the very beginning of the film, which occurs a mere 23 days post-Snap and in which Carol Danvers (still not going by "Captain Marvel") figures heavily, most of Endgame takes place five years later. Earth has mostly moved on, and while some of its remaining heroes continue their heroics (Natasha gamely maintains Avengers HQ while Clint goes full-on Punisher), several of the heavy hitters have removed themselves from the board (some more emphatically than the others).

But all this changes when Scott Lang unexpectedly emerges from the Quantum Realm, and from the moment you saw him show up at Stately Avengers Mansion in a '72 Ford Econoline (a.k.a. Chekhov's time machine) in last year's trailer, you knew Endgame wasn't going to be Marvel's The Leftovers.

Even more so than Infinity War, Endgame spreads out across Marvel's universe, leading to a dizzying array of guest appearances, flashbacks, and callouts to previous installments that are poignant, clever, and yes, occasionally fan-servicey (including acknowledgement of "America's ass"). It helps contribute to that sense of finality, and all the Squirrel Girl appearances or third act moments we've been building up to for a decade can only enhance it.

Feige can define the MCU's chapters however he wants, but this really feels like the end, beautiful friends, the end. Whatever your feelings about superheroes, or talking raccoons, or Disney's Borg-like assimilation of all entertainment, Avengers: Endgame's synthesis of 11 years' and 22 movies' worth of characters and plot is nothing short of remarkable.

And that Squirrel Girl intro really is something else.

Ask A 9-Year Old: So, it's not exactly a question, but around 15 minutes into the movie, something happened that caused my daughter to exclaim "Jesus!" followed by, "Sorry, Dad." I assured her it was all in the Endgame, yo.
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar