While the entire last decade can be described as a transformative (and, in many ways, the golden) age of “geek” media, 2019 holds a special place as the year that will see three of the greatest cinematic pop culture narratives ever to receive their final chapter. No fan can be blamed from harboring huge expectations going into the final episode of Game of Thrones or the end of Star Wars‘ Skywalker saga; however, the bar has now been set even more incredibly high for the finale of those hugely popular franchises due to the near-perfect final piece in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s 22-movie storyline that is Avengers: Endgame.
To say that audiences are not prepared for Endgame is an understatement. Sure, viewers are expecting an epic and huge adventure that exceeds Infinity War both in scope and emotion , but while Endgame delivers that in spades, directors Anthony and Joe Russo managed to push their cast and crew beyond what we expect from even the best of the MCU films and forge a final film that resonates more like an expertly crafted season finale than a big-budget blockbuster film. And, like the very best season finales, Endgame gives audiences who’ve followed these characters for the last ten years almost everything they knew they wanted and a whole lot they didn’t know they needed till now.
Without getting into spoiler territory, Endgame is an epic tale that includes almost every MCU character that viewers will expect (and a few that you won’t expect at all), but much of its strength lies in how the filmmakers know that this final chapter is about completing the arcs of those heroes we met in Phase One. This isn’t to say that the story is completely over for Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Bruce Banner, or Thor, but Endgame brings each character’s arc to an incredibly satisfying conclusion. While fans of newly introduced characters to the MCU (like Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel, for example) may wish their favorites had a little more screen time, they still receive their standout moments, and the real excitement is knowing that Marvel Studios’ Kevin Feige has been laying the groundwork to make sure that Black Panther, Captain Marvel, and others get the same creative attention, love, and focus that our original core Avengers have been enjoying for the last 10 years. A number of bold choices are made throughout Endgame that herald an exciting and progressive future for the next saga in the MCU, and one can only hope that Feige is able to find talented directors like the Russos, who manage the large, sprawling stories and huge ensemble casts in Infinity War and Endgame like they have some sort of secret super powers.
All in all, Endgame is a poignant, layered, utterly heartfelt film and a crowning achievement not only for Marvel Studios, but for every comic book fan who once wished the world could share in the pulpy, yet deeply personal, joy achieved only in the pages of a Marvel superhero comic. While there will surely be naysayers (There always are.), Endgame is successful on a personal, intimate, emotional level and as the epic and grand blockbuster adventure most expect it to be, as well as serving as undeniable proof that Marvel and Feige have managed to change the way Hollywood will tell cinematic stories going forward. The “cinematic universe” model Marvel Studios has created is a dragon other studios have been chasing for years and have yet to master, and the smashing success of Endgame (which will surely be a financial record-breaker of astonishing proportions) will only increase the attractiveness of this box office thirst trap.
If it’s not already clear, Avengers: Endgame is ridiculously good. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry (at least 3 times), you’ll feel the impulse to leap from your seat and cheer on your heroes (and I say go for it). And that three-hour run time? Don’t even worry about that. I’ve got it on good authority that, with a film this fantastic, you “can do this all day.”