Avengers: Endgame Review
Warning: This is NOT spoiler-free. Read at your own risk.
by noran shalby ‘20
In the case of Avengers: Endgame, it’s clear that Marvel saved the best for last. As the most anticipated blockbuster of our decade (if not our generation), Avengers: Endgame had a lot of expectations to live up to, but it still managed to exceed every single one.
With its three-hour run time and myriad of story arcs, the superhero film had a lot of ground to cover. A fast-paced and senses-filled extravaganza, Endgame skillfully navigates its most important plotlines, tying up countless loose ends in every direction and touchingly paying homage to the “big six”—Iron Man, Captain America, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Thor, and The Hulk—the original Avengers that have been the centerpiece of the Marvel Cinematic Universe for more than a decade. That being said, it would be impossible to assess Avengers: Endgame without alluding to the first nineteen installments of the franchise and the groundwork they laid to give life to this extraordinary vision. Whether in the instance of Steve Rogers’ and Tony Stark’s reconciliation from their fall-out in Captain America: Civil War, the Guardians of the Galaxy’s reuniting with Gamora since her tragic death in Avengers: Infinity War, or Thor’s rebuilding of his home society after its destruction in Thor: Ragnarok, Endgame brought closure to these interwoven narratives in emotionally poignant and heart-rending scenes. While some character endings were less satisfying than others, they all addressed the MCU’s most pressing thematic questions: How does tragedy inform our lives? How should we come to terms with the consequences of our actions? And most importantly, what does it mean to be a hero? What Endgame lacked in narrative cohesiveness, it ultimately made up for in sheer cinematic beauty and profoundly thoughtful storytelling.
But more than anything else, Avengers: Endgame is a tribute (read: enormous emotional valentine) to the fuel-propelled rocket of a character who launched the superhero blockbuster franchise off of the ground and away into the skies in classic Iron Man fashion. If the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the Iron Man armor, then Tony Stark is its arc reactor—the superconductor that vitalized the MCU and provided it with the momentum necessary to expand into new horizons. In the end, it is Tony Stark who lays down on the wire and performs the greatest act of heroism imaginable to salvage half of the universe from a point that had seemed irreversible. Tony’s character arc was about more than redemption: it was a complete self-actualization that witnessed Tony transform from a reckless inventor and billionaire blinded by hubris to a determined hero learning how to become moral and good in the same breath that he struggled to bring peace to a broken world. It is no coincidence, therefore, that it is Tony’s ultimate sacrifice—his showdown with the genocidal titan, Thanos, where Tony wields the powerful Infinity Glove and restores order to the universe—that superbly concludes the first generation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In the end, Endgame only affirms what every Marvel fan has known all along: that Tony Stark is every inch of the hero he’d always strove to become, and now he belongs to the ages.