“Avengers: Endgame” Review: Infinity Saga finale deftly balances action and heart

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“Avengers: Endgame” Review: Infinity Saga finale deftly balances action and heart

Morgan Pryor, Commentary editor

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With a collection of 22 films spanning over a decade, it’s a remarkable feat that Marvel has managed to keep each and every one of its individual franchises focused toward a singular goal, or, for lack of a better term, endgame. Convening each of its heroes’ paths into one epic storyline, “Avengers: Endgame” is a near-perfect, emotionally-satisfying capstone for each of its characters’ arcs, and for one of the most defining franchises of our generation.

“Endgame” doesn’t waste any time getting into the thick of things, packing every possible and necessary element into its 182-minute runtime. Picking up mere minutes before Thanos (Josh Brolin) snapped half of the population out of existence with the Infinity Stones, Clint Barton  (Jeremy Renner), perhaps better known as Hawkeye, is still on house arrest after the events of “Captain America: Civil War.” He and his family are spending time together, oblivious to the ongoing battle in Wakanda, as he watches his wife and children turn to dust.

Keeping with this dire, desperate and fast-paced tone, time jumps from minutes to several weeks after the Avenger’s devastating loss in Wakanda. On another side of the universe, stranded in deep space, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) are also reeling from their loss to Thanos on his home planet, Titan. With no fuel and a dwindling supply of food and oxygen, things aren’t looking so good for Iron Man until the first of many surprising and wonderful team-ups occurs: Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) gets their ship back to Earth, where Captain America (Chris Evans) and the remaining Avengers are devising a plan to find and destroy Thanos and use the Stones to get everyone back.

The first of many startling twists, the Avengers’ showdown with Thanos occurs within the first 20 minutes of the film and, needless to say does not go as expected. The rapid progression from location to location, one pivotal moment to the next, flows remarkably smoothly, so much so that it’s easy to forget that there are three hours worth of plot. It makes sense, even as directors Joe and Anthony Russo start to integrate more complex and ambitious ideas into the Marvel Universe that have never been seen before. In fact, events across the entirety of Marvel’s repertoire connect more than ever before, and each character’s motivations have never been more clear.

Whereas “Infinity War” played out all too quickly, trying to give a glimpse of every possible fan-favorite character — there are many — and developing their stories in some way, the Snap did actually change one thing for the better. At last, the original six Avengers can work with more than just five minutes of screen time, with Downey Jr. and Evans clocking in at just over an hour each. This does wonders for their story arcs, and though they each have their own trilogies under their belts, the two leaders of the MCU have never delivered rich and gripping performances quite like this. Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark rightfully gets the most time to shine and gives his typical balance of comedic quips and heart-wrenching emotion, but his execution is elevated tenfold to match the intense stakes.

“Endgame” is undoubtedly Marvel’s most ambitious addition yet — most of all in its concepts. The bigger ideas that are introduced hint at an even grander future of the MCU. Even though the heroes we all know and love will never be the same with some journeys wrapping up and others just beginning, the world that “Endgame” leaves us with certainly looks bright, and for that, it’s fitting that it deserves an A plus.

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