review round-up

Avengers: Endgame Review Roundup: Turns Out 3 Hours Isn’t Too Long

Photo: Marvel Studios

With this Friday’s release of Avengers: Endgame, it would seem we have reached the end of the bifrost. Eleven years after the Marvel Cinematic Universe big-banged into existence as a scrappy little megablockbuster titled Iron Man, the franchise issued its 22nd film, thus completing its storied third phase of storytelling. And today, Disney snapped its fingers and dissolved the review embargo, meaning critical reactions are in.

So far, it seems the Russo Brothers’ fourth Marvel effort has been received as positively, if not more so, than its predecessor, Infinity War. Critics and audiences alike are calling Endgame an impressive feat, funny and mournful in equal measure, that manages to pull off the impossible task of reconciling approximately 8,000 story threads. So put down the leaks and read critics’ (spoiler-free) reactions, below:

“Even at three-plus hours, the gargantuan Avengers: Endgame is light on its feet and more freely inventive than it needed to be. Given the year-long wait, its audience — Pavlovian dogs, myself (woof!) included — would have salivated over less. It’s better than Avengers: Infinity War, which was better than Avengers: Age of Ultron; and it is, for a change, conclusive.” —David Edelstein, Vulture

“Watching Endgame, with its ribbons of poignancy and genuine artfulness, one gets the feeling that any series can get good when it’s had 22 chances to practice. That long runway doesn’t make you appreciate the finery any less, though; in a maybe perverse way, the Avengers, their allies, and their enemies have earned our respect.” —Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair

“The biggest question the film leaves open is whether the Avengers — as a name brand in the Marvel Universe — should continue after this barnstorming ending. The Marvel experiment continues apace, with many (mostly untitled) new editions on the docket, and Endgame will make more than enough money to justify them. But it’s hard to know if the series will ever be able to replicate the peculiar magic of this movie’s finale, which had me realizing with a jolt, over and over again, how much I cared about the lives of these loud, wisecracking, CGI-bedazzled champions.” —David Sims, The Atlantic

“Nonetheless, it’s an amiable brand of melancholy that pervades the film, one that scarcely gets in the way of the enthusiasm and excitement that Marvel adventures almost always deliver in some measure or another. The feeling of finality and potential farewell is sometimes suggested quietly just in the way certain moments are lingered over, conveying the fatalistic sense that this might well be the last time around the block for some of these characters.” —Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter

“Sometimes life is simple, and there’s nothing more delightful than a scene of the Avengers casually lying around together reading books as they research, the fulfillment of the found family dynamic we first hoped for back in 2012. There’s an ease to their interaction forged by time and tragedy, and the closeness of the actors after so many years and movies together mirrors this.” —Kaila Hale-Stern, the Mary Sue

“[T]his speedy arrangement of catchy exchanges and brawls feels like it was crafted with internet memes in mind. As Endgame sputters to the finish line, it leaves the impression of witnessing a Marvel Movie Marathon compressed to three hours — and 58 seconds, but trust me, they’re disposable — of unbridled fan service.” —Eric Kohn, IndieWire

Endgame’s abundance of [afterthought jokes] led me to temporarily believe, that we just might see one of the things I wanted most in this movie: for Ant-Man to defeat Thanos by crawling up his anus and then expanding to the size of Big Ben. If you wanted this as much as I did, you may be slightly disappointed. I say ‘slightly’ only because Endgame’s climactic battle sequence is easily the most colossal and spirit-soaring superhero brawl ever created. It’s made of that Marvel miracle stuff that hits you with chills and throws your heart into your throat.” —Alex Abad-Santos, Vox

“Conventional wisdom says that a sequel should be able to stand on its own. For the past decade, Marvel has worked to make that true, to whatever degree is possible in a series of more than 20 interconnected films. That changes with Endgame, which has no ambition to stand on its own, and no need to. This Avengers finale is an event as much as a movie. It is quite possibly a one-time thing that can only happen at this point in time. Endgame is a giant flex of fan interest and industry power, and in that respect it is spectacular.” —Russ Fischer, Birth Movies Death

“After 11 years and 21 movies, Avengers: Endgame is larger than a mere movie. It’s a personal experience. It works as a singular film and ultimately will be judged as such, but on first viewing, it works even better as a cherry on top of a decade of Marvel storytelling — the final piece of a glorious puzzle we’ve all been working to piece together since 2008.” —Germain Lussier, Gizmodo

“It’s in those moments where Endgame excels — as epic as some of the fight sequences are, we’re also given insight into our heroes’ mental states in a way we’ve rarely had time for in past team-ups; there are pauses for grief, guilt, love, and longing, which ultimately makes the escalating action all the more rewarding.” —Laura Prudom, IGN

“Thankfully, Endgame never feels like a victory parade but a story with its own stakes and dangers. This is the landing that the MCU had to stick, and for the most part, they nail it. The movie may not really be about anything in particular, and yet its overarching theme (broad as it may be) — that it matters how you choose to live your life — still resonates thanks to the choices these characters make.” —Matt Goldberg, Collider

“None of the 22 films in this cycle are likely to be remembered as great works of cinema, because none have really tried. It’s fun to see the actors in these roles we know are capable of better, and also satisfying to appreciate the efforts of those who might not be. Some first-rate directors have taken up the banner and burnished the brand. Their past and future masterpieces will most likely be found elsewhere. Still, ‘Endgame’ is a monument to adequacy, a fitting capstone to an enterprise that figured out how to be good enough for enough people enough of the time.” —A.O. Scott, the New York Times

“Their commercial instincts are fabulous, but the chief limitation with Endgame relates directly to how the Russo brothers approach the staging and composition of pure action. They’re just medium-good visual stylists, alternating fake-documentary handheld camerawork with generic glide-ins, back and forth, forth and back. They get the job done.” —Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

“And while the lingering trauma of Infinity War doesn’t dissipate so easily, one of the nicest surprises of Endgame is how fun it is. Once the plot engine kicks into gear, it’s a pleasure just to sit back and watch our heroes bounce off of each other as they get to work. So much so that the three-hour run time seems to fly by.” —Angie Han, Mashable

“There are times when Endgame falls back into Marvel’s old problems (hordes of unimportant villains, too much CGI and muted coloring), but they’re tempered with character-focused moments. While most of these are in service of the core six, each Marvel hero in Avengers: Endgame gets a moment to truly shine and join in on the superhero fun. Some of these moments are unashamedly fan service and, in fact, there’s a great deal of fan service in Avengers: Endgame overall. But after 11 years and 21 movies, Marvel has earned some fan service, and it all adds to the epic, event nature of Avengers: Endgame.” —Molly Freeman, Screen Rant

“The key difference-maker in Avengers: Endgame lies in the authentic outpouring of emotions that unfold on screen. Throughout these installments, we’ve seen our superheroes in peril, their lives in grave danger. But it’s been impossible to fully invest in the drama knowing that a new Avengersmovie was flying in the wings. Of course Black Panther was going to be OK; no way anyone is killing off Thor; as if Spider-Man will bite it. We all knew they’d save the day. Given that Endgame title, nobody here is a surefire survivor. This means the tears are real and the poignant moments stick to the guts.” —Mara Reinstein, Us Weekly

Endgame acknowledges that not every entry in the saga is perfect. Times have changed and so have tastes. But it also acknowledges we all know every inch of these movies and what they’ve meant to a generation.” —Kyle Anderson, Nerdist

“If you partake of the Marvel universe, this movie is for you no matter what. And if you don’t, seeing it would be like going to church if you’re an atheist — an experience of spectacle unmoored from any purpose or definition. In the case of Endgame, we’re talking fine spectacle, to be sure, the best that money can buy.” —Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

“So, it’s no shock or spoiler to say that Endgame is the most emotional of the Avengers movies, a tear-stained farewell that effectively tugs at the heartstrings while simultaneously blowing them up with a large army’s worth of CGI warfare. That the film doesn’t fully reconcile its two impulses over the course of its too-long three-hour running time may make it an endurance test for those not already neck-deep invested in the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), but it’s a Valentine for fans who’ve come to know and love some of these characters on screen for more than a decade.” —Cary Darling, Houston Chronicle

“And the small part is the connections between these characters; these beautiful movie-star superheroes who can, within the mayhem and sleek machinery of this movie, create moments of genuine emotion.” —Moira Macdonald, the Seattle Times

What the Critics Are Saying About Avengers: Endgame