After 21 films in 11 years, the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it culminates with Avengers: Endgame.
The film takes place in the immediate wake of 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War with megavillain Thanos (Josh Brolin) having wiped out half of Earth’s population and the original Avengers — Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) — seeking to bring back their fallen comrades by any means necessary.
Along with surviving supporting players Nebula (Karen Gillan), James Rhodes/War Machine (Don Cheadle) and Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), plus new old ally Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), our heroes embark upon an ambitious quest to achieve the improbable.
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Fans of the MCU get the ideal series finale with Avengers: Endgame. Is it “perfect”? That might depend on who your favorite characters are, satisfaction with how their storylines play out or whether you think they got enough screen time in this three-hour epic.
But if you’ve been following along all this time, through the 21 movies of the most ambitious film series ever attempted, this ending will feel just right. Don’t worry — no spoilers. Everyone who sees this movie should experience each of its revelations on his or her own terms.
The narrative doesn’t follow the path you might expect coming out of Avengers: Infinity War, and where our heroes now find themselves in light of Thanos eliminating half of the universe’s population with a snap of his fingers could amuse, surprise or even offend you.
However, directors Joe and Anthony Russo (with screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, who probably haven’t received as much praise as they deserve) carry the foundational icons of this long, multifaceted adventure to their rightful ends. Think about how the MCU began with 2008’s Iron Man and what it became four years later with The Avengers. Where it goes with Endgame is true to these characters and a reward for the fans who love them.
In one sense, the story is finished. And if it was left that way, that would be fine. But there will be more to come based on what happens in Endgame. The MCU simply won’t look the same anymore, as characters like Captain Marvel step forward. That change in itself is exciting and a demonstration of how ambitious this spectacle has been. Marvel may not be able to top itself with what comes next, only because it gave these superheroes such personality and depth the first time around.