Plot: What’s it about?
“I am Iron Man.”
Those words were spoken by Robert Downey Jr.’s iconic character in 2008’s Iron Man. And it’s been a long time since we last heard them. But it’s here. The wait is over and yes, it was worth it. Though this isn’t the “end” of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (the MCU from now on for the sake of my fingers), it does both close and open a lot of doors for the characters within. The 22 films have garnered billions of dollars in profits, spawned countless superhero films and even garnered an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture (Black Panther). With little to prove, the only thing that viewers really wanted and/or needed was some resolution. After all these infinity stones have been in the MCU for quite some time now. Josh Brolin’s lantern-jawed, purple persona has been pining over them nearly as long. Earth’s Mightiest Superheroes have assembled (what’s left of them) and it’s an all out battle. Let’s get this party started!
This review may contain minor spoilers for the film. It’s also assumed you’ve seen Avengers: Infinity War. If not, do so.
For a movie that runs just over three hours, there isn’t a lot to the plot. The events of this film take place roughly a few weeks after the events of Avengers: Infinity War. Thanos wiped out half of the population of the Earth and with it many of the top-billed stars of plenty of MCU films. What Avengers: Endgame focuses on is those left behind. Clinging for hope that something or someone will reverse what happened, five years pass. The heroes have moved on with their lives and it seems that the Earth has as well. Things are different. But it’s not until Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) emerges from the microverse that shows there might be a way to undo what Thanos (Josh Brolin) has done. The remaining heroes, led by Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Captain America (Chris Evans) are to go back in time and commandeer the infinity stones at different points in time. This requires the help of everyone left and it’s a longshot that it’ll even work. If successful, the damage will be undone. But that’s a big if.
Avengers: Endgame gets a lot right. If anything it finally validates the character of Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) who spent the first Avengers film in a trance. It gives the character more depth. There’s also a lot to get used to: a medium-sized Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) that has a never-ending supply of activewear. There’s Thor (Chris Hemsworth) who has donned the persona of Jeffrey Lebowski and the uncertainty of the two main characters: Iron Man and Captain America. But this film, much like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II is all about resolution. Twenty one films preceded this one and it’s all led up to this.
Ultimately the biggest heroes aren’t seen on screen. They’re the two guys who wrote the film taken from twenty-one separate installments, many of which were penned from other writers. They’ve woven them into a coherent whole. Avengers: Endgame brings back characters and scenarios from other MCU films. And these don’t feel forced. They have a part in the film and it’s all been woven into the plot of this one. The result is a work that perfectly play off the connection audiences have made to the MCU since its inception.
Video: How’s it look?
Oh, come on. Who are we kidding? This is one of the highest-grossing films in the history of cinema. Do you think that it would look anything less than perfect? Well it does. But just a tinge. The 4K format is a lovely thing in the most literal sense of the word, but with a three hour movie even the highest bitrate in the world will have an error or two. And, again with the running time, it gave me about an extra hour to find them (although they’re few and far between). And, in truth, the “faults” are very few and far between with a few scenes looking just the slightest bit soft and some of the CGI looking a bit odd (Michael Douglas’ character of Hank Pym comes to mind). Contrast is rock solid, colors are all over the palette and detail is tack sharp. Seriously folks, this checks all the boxes and I’d find it very difficult to believe that anyone out there will be disappointed with how this looks. But it takes something special to get that coveted 5 star rating from us and this isn’t it. But it’s close.
Audio: How’s it sound?
Turing the attention to the Dolby Atmos soundtrack. Well, that’s another story. There are several instances in which the atmospheric soundtrack gets to flex its muscle, but there’s also a lot of dialogue in this film. Considering the running time, there has to be. I did find a few instances in which the vocals were a bit low, but that’s nit-picking. The battle scenes (yes, scenes) is where this really shines and as with all the other MCU films, there’s something coming out of every channel. Audiophiles have had a field day with some of Disney’s Dolby Atmos releases, but I found no such instance here. Simply put, this is a stellar-sounding track. Turn it up!
Supplements: What are the extras?
Disc One (Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray)
- This is the movie only. All of the supplements are on the included Blu-ray’s.
Disc Two (Blu-ray)
- Audio Commentary – Directors Anthony and Joe Russo provide a lengthy and informative track. And they’ve got plenty of time in which to do it. Admittedly I didn’t listen to every second of the track, but after hearing a couple hours’ worth, I was satisfied that anyone who wishes to listen to this will enjoy it. These guys know their stuff (and why shouldn’t they?) and even with considerable points of silence, it’s a good commentary.
- Introduction by Anthony and Joe Russo – The brothers take a few minutes to give an introduction to the film.
Disc Three (Blu-ray)
- Remembering Stan Lee – Filmmakers and cast honor the great Stan Lee in a fond look back at his MCU movie cameos.
- Setting The Tone: Casting Robert Downey Jr. – Hear the tale of how Robert Downey Jr. was cast as Tony Stark in the original Iron Man — and launched the MCU.
- A Man Out of Time: Creating Captain America – Trace the evolution of Captain America with those who helped shape the look, feel and character of this compelling hero.
- Black Widow: Whatever It Takes – Follow Black Widow’s journey both within and outside the Avengers, including the challenges she faced and overcame along the way.
- The Russo Brothers: Journey to Endgame – See how Anthony and Joe Russo met the challenge of helming two of the biggest films in cinematic history … back-to-back!
- The Women of the MCU – MCU women share what it was like to join forces for the first time in an epic battle scene — and be part of such a historic ensemble.
- Bro Thor – If you combine Jeff Bridges’ character from The Big Lebowski with that of Thor – this is the end result. And it’s amazing.
- Six Deleted Scenes – Six total. But given the film’s three + hour running time, these were wisely cut.
- Goji Berries
- Bombs on Board
- Suckiest Army in the Galaxy
- You Used to Frickin’ Live Here
- Tony and Howard
- Avengers Take a Knee
- Gag Reel – Laugh along with the cast in this epic collection of flubs, goofs and gaffes from set.
- Steve and Peggy: One Last Dance – Explore Captain America and Peggy Carter’s bond, forged in moments from previous films that lead to a momentous choice in Avengers: Endgame.
The Bottom Line
This will sound very cliched, but it’s all led to this. The first Marvel Cinematic Universe film came out in 2008 and more than a decade later we’ve got a pretty big finale. Fear not, loyal fans, they’re making more. Far be it from Disney to shut the door on guaranteed profits. But if the Avengers are your thing, then this is what you’ve been waiting for (and as evidenced by the box office, you were). And it delivers. The 4K disc is simply stunning to look at and listen to and there are enough extras thrown in that this should easily find a place in your collection.