Avengers: Endgame is an epic and emotional love-letter to the MCU
JOE's spoiler-free review. Enjoy!
The final words spoken in Avengers: Infinity War, and ones that will be ringing through the heads of any reviewer for Avengers: Endgame, attempting to navigate the minefield of #NoSpoilers, while also actually trying to, y'know, talk about the movie.
So with that in mind, let us power through this together. Whatever it takes...
Endgame picks up more or less right around the time that Infinity War ended, and we get to see the fallout of that movie's events in both the immediate short term, and, before too long, the longer term, too.
The aftermath of the Snapture has taken the half that survived to some very dark places, and the movie takes its time letting us know that even superheroes can sometimes need grief counselling.
It is a smart move to remind us that, in stark (Stark?) contrast to the somewhat mindless city-levelling set-pieces and explosions, there are real-world implications.
Captain America has never just shrugged off the loss of Peggy Carter.
Tony Stark has constantly felt culpable for not protecting his home planet as much as he felt he could have.
Thor struggles to escape the fear that he isn't actually worthy of the power and leadership position that has been thrust upon him.
It has something that the MCU has been hammering home since Sokovia dropped out of the sky in Age of Ultron, but that sense of responsibility and guilt is ramped up the nth degree in Endgame.
So, with everyone pretty much at their lowest point, the remaining survivors put a plan together that might undo Thanos' genocide, but it is a plan that only has one shot of working, and a very slim shot at that.
After the almost non-stop action of Infinity War, it is surprising just how much time Endgame sets aside to the characters standing around and talking about both their shared history and questionable future together.
That three-hour running time doesn't feel bloated when you consider that this is essentially the 'Season Finale' of 22 movies released over 11 years.
The emotional power of Endgame is felt from the incredibly powerful first scene, and it remains perilously high throughout, which you think might be exhausting to endure.
But these actors, these screenwriters, these directors, they all know exactly what they're doing at this point.
Ironically, the MCU has never felt more lived-in than in Endgame, and even in the face of ominous doom, the movie knows when and how to expertly lighten the mood with a scalpel-sharp, precision-performed one-liner.
When the action does arrive, it is impossible to imagine it being any bigger in terms of scope and scale.
In any other movie, these scenes would be overwhelming, but having taken its time building up to this crescendo - both here and in the series as a whole - it can't be said that it feels undeserved.
Is this a perfect movie?
No, mainly because the story that the movie decides to tell is one that automatically lends itself to plot holes and endless questions, and more than any other Marvel movie to date, Endgame requires viewers to possess more than a passing knowledge of every chapter.
And Thor's whole sub-plot is... a bit of a mess.
However, those nay-sayers who complain about "being lost" in the series because they missed one of the movies are also missing the whole point. This is the culmination of something that cinema has never tried before. Nobody complains about "not getting" season eight of Game of Thrones because they haven't watched some of the previous ones.
Yes, the MCU requires dedication, and Endgame does a terrific job of reminding the fans of the journey we've been on with these heroes and villains over the last decade or so, consistently pulling at heartstrings, tapping into the audience's love for the MCU in clever and unpredictable ways, to deliver an ending that couldn't be any more satisfying if it tried.
Avengers: Endgame is released in Irish cinemas from Thursday 25 April.