Eleven years and 21 movies later and it’s all come down to this: the Avengers try to recover from (and possibly correct) the “Decimation” — the snap heard ’round the universe — in 2018’s “Infinity War.”

No spoilers here, but hit the bathroom before you see Avengers: Endgame because you won’t want to miss a moment of its three-hour runtime.

But thankfully it doesn’t feel like three hours since Endgame delivers the goods on multiple levels: the highs and the lows; the fan service and easter eggs; the action sequences and moments of reflection; cameos and callbacks; surprises and hints at what’s to come. The bad guys get their comeuppances and the good guys get their just rewards.

It seems to have been written by and for lovers of sci-fi, comics, these characters and MCU movies specifically in order to give its audience exactly what they wanted. It’s also almost as much a love story as it is an action-packed adventure, and the plot may be a bit dense for younger viewers. There’s also more PG-13 violence than usual (courtesy of Thor/Chris Hemsworth who is in no mood to play) and language from perennially stalwart Captain America/Chris Evans (language, Cap!).

But then again, this isn’t your lighthearted Ant-Man romp; Endgame starts with a gut-punch hot on the heels of “Infinity War” and barely lets up from there. It’s an aptly named culmination of the MCU’s first three phases and a dang near perfect capper to all that has come before.

It seems that the creative team comprised of directors Anthony and Joe Russo and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely created a wish list of everything they ever wanted to see from these movies, threw it all against a wall, and then created a script that might make it all stick.

Some heroes are brought back from the Decimation while others are revived in a way that doesn’t cheat their initial loss. Some are sacrificed in a satisfying way while others are poised to become so much more in Marvel’s Phase Four and beyond.

Less powerful Avengers shine in larger, important roles while highly powered heroes don’t save the day on their own. The usual quip machine that sometimes undercuts the drama is put in a lower gear, but it still rears its head from time to time. Heroes who were decimated obviously get limited screen time but make the most of what they eventually get. Elements also exist that will delight long-time comic book readers while still being welcome to those who are strictly fans of the movies. And certainly the mechanics of the time travel plot are wibbly-wobbly timey-whimey, but I haven’t found a time travel movie that isn’t on shaky theoretical ground to some extent. At least the writers try to address some of the concerns brought up by such a complex plan while using the trappings of time travel to close some loops while opening others up to the possibility of a Phase 4 appearance (or a series on Disney+).

I will confirm that outside of an appropriate sound effect there is no end credits scene after a major victory lap for the main characters kicks off a rather extensive credit roll. I guess Marvel thought that after three hours of “Endgame” fans would probably want to go home, but they thought wrong as many (of us) who stayed were upset that there wasn’t something more. Even at three hours, Avengers: Endgame was something I didn’t want to actually see end.

  • Avengers: Endgame (2019)
  • Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and some language
  • Running time 3 hours, 1 minute
  • Directed by: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
  • Writing Credits: Christopher Markus (written by) & Stephen McFeely (written by), Stan Lee (based on the Marvel comics by) and Jack Kirby (based on the Marvel comics by), Jim Starlin (comic book)

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