“Avengers: Endgame” is directed by Anthony and Joe Russo and serves as the direct sequel to 2018’s “Avengers: Infinity War” and the final installment in the current arch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Marvel Studios has accomplished what no other studio has managed: reaching a final chapter in their cinematic universe that has lasted 11 years and 22 movies. With Warner Brothers’ DC Comics Universe considered a failure after a string of poorly received films and Universal’s “Dark Universe,” which focuses on classic monsters, dying on arrival, the MCU remains the gold standard for what large scale, serialized storytelling can be on the big screen.

I have been a huge fan of the MCU since its first entry with “Iron Man” in 2008. I was instantly hooked into the world not only because of its grand size and fun action, but because how real and fleshed out every character was. Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Chris Evans (Captain America) and Chris Hemsworth (Thor) have brought to life their costumed counterparts in ways that no one could have possibly imagined.

That being said, going into “Endgame,” I was largely skeptical of where they could possibly go after the ending of the previous film, “Infinity War.” I had some idea of what it could be, but the trailers and marketing gave no further hints to the secrets the film held. “Endgame” had an impossible task. There was no way they could cap off 11 years of films with a bang that was grand in spectacle, emotionally resonant and overall, satisfying. There is no way that 11 years ago, anyone could have imagined that something like this would be possible. By some miracle, they 100% pulled it off.

I’m going to keep this critique as vague as I possibly can because I went into “Endgame” knowing nothing about the actual story they were telling and it was one of the best cinematic experiences of my life. It’s also really hard to take a step back from my viewing experience to critique it as a film and not a Marvel movie. I had the same issue with last year’s “Infinity War” because these entries are so huge in scale that it doesn’t follow a traditional cinematic structure. I liken it to a TV show that has been going on for several years. The episodes eventually will fall into a formula that the show will generally follow because it satisfies and is familiar to fans. “Avengers: Endgame” is the finale of this saga, so structure, pacing and other issues that could affect a film are out the window because the fans know what they are here for.

What “Endgame” excels in beyond anything else is its characters. I would love to comment on each actor and commend them for how great they are in “Endgame,” but I would quite literally be mentioning every member of the cast. All of the actors deliver all-time high performances for each of their respective characters and it’s remarkable how much these characters have grown over the course of 11 years. It adds more weight to the viewing experience and is extremely satisfying for fans of this series.

The story itself (still no spoilers) is broken into hour segments. With a three hour runtime, the film is packaged in a way that delivers a fresh new feel every hour through viewing. It is hard to explain without spoilers, but it flows together cohesively and never feels like the story is moving too fast or too slow. The film is tremendously edited. Moments that are so grand in size that are meant to fire up the audience seamlessly become smaller character moments that further develop relationships that we have seen flourish for 11 years. It’s remarkable how they pulled this movie off.

If you are a fan of these movies and are up to date in your MCU lore, “Avengers: Endgame” is everything you could ever want from a conclusion for these characters. It is an absolute must see. If you haven’t seen a Marvel movie before, don’t see this movie. You won’t understand a thing that is going on and will absolutely hate it. Being a series finale for this saga, it acts that you have prior knowledge of the events that have come before. The film doesn’t cater to people who haven’t kept up to date and it pulls the smallest moments from the other films to payoff. For some, this would be a turn off, but for me, it moved me to tears at moments. The smaller moments are why I watched these movies and to see them payoff in such a big, emotional way was extremely satisfying to watch. The last hour of “Endgame” is the best superhero cinema put to screen ever.

The film itself (early hot take) is the best superhero movie and one of the greatest accomplishments in cinematic history. So, even if you haven’t seen any of the Marvel movies, start now, because “Avengers: Endgame” is something you need to see at least once in your life.

Grade From An MCU Fan: A++

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