DIRECTORS: Anthony and Joe Russo

CAST: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Brie Larson, Karen Gillan, Danai Gurira, Benedict Wong, Jon Favreau, Bradley Cooper, Gwyneth Paltrow, Josh Brolin, Tessa Thompson, Hiroyuki Sanada, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Tom Hiddleston, Pom Klementieff, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Chris Pratt, Letitia Wright, Evangeline Lilly, Frank Grillo, Winston Duke, Robert Redford, Rene Russo, Tilda Swinton, Angela Bassett, Ty Simpkins, Linda Cardellini, Hayley Atwell, Taika Waititi, John Slattery, Natalie Portman, Jacob Batalon, Marisa Tomei, Ross Marquand, William Hurt, Callan Mulvey, Maximiliano Hernández, Kerry Condon, James D’Arcy, Ken Jeong, Yvette Nicole Brown, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders

RUNNING TIME: 182 mins

CERTIFICATE: 12A

BASICALLY…: After Thanos (Brolin) wipes out half the universe, the Avengers reunite to put things right…

NOW FOR THE REVIEW…

WARNING: This review contains HEAVY SPOILERS for this movie, and should be avoided by anyone who has not seen it yet and wishes to go in knowing as little as possible. If you want a much less spoiler-filled review, check out the first review here – but be warned, if you choose to continue reading from this point onward without seeing it first, you only have yourself to blame – which is why I am giving you one last chance to jump ship before it’s too late.

Seriously, from this point on, it’s spoilers all the way. You have been warned…

Still here? Okay, here goes nothing…

I’m sad to report, Ant-Man does NOT go up Thanos’s anus in this film. I know, I’m disappointed too; but on the bright side, Ant-Man gets to do quite a bit in this film, almost as much as some of the other heroes. In fact, he’s quite integral to the entire film, since without him our heroes would likely never have learned about the quantum realm, never used it to travel through time to several points in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, never been able to reacquire the Infinity Stones to reverse the apocalyptic events of Avengers: Infinity War, and most certainly never bring everyone – and I mean, EVERYONE – to the final battle against Thanos and his army.

That’s all good, but we wanted Ant-Man expanding in Thanos’s ass, goddammit!

Joking aside, though, this movie really does deliver everything a Marvel fan could ever want to see in a movie; that includes all of these characters, from the original line-up to the people that were erased – and then un-erased – from existence at the end of Infinity War, fighting alongside each other on the battlefield, swapping quips and abilities with one another, and kicking all kinds of alien ass in ways that will inspire moments of utter delight in everyone’s inner child. No other movie of this size and scope will have scenes of Ant-Man punching a giant alien beast, Doctor Strange creating a giant water tornado, Spider-Man swinging onto the back of Valkyrie’s flying horse, Captain Marvel sending an entire spaceship down just by flying through it, and Captain America wielding Mjolnir along with his half-broken shield. Is it fan-service? Absolutely, but it’s the very best kind of fan service; it’s the kind that feels entirely earned, especially after several movies of building up these characters, establishing their backgrounds, and letting them actually be awesome on their own before getting to the stuff that makes geeks go completely ape-shit.

That’s mostly just the third act of the film, though, and there’s a whole bunch of stuff in the first two that is worth going into as well. This is a weird situation where the film played out exactly as I thought it would, but not in the ways I was expecting; within the first twenty minutes, for example, the heroes have already tracked down the Thanos of their timeline and executed him, which was obviously way earlier than I or probably anyone else was expecting, but it makes sense to get that out of the way before diving in to the more complex time-travel element of the film, which allows a past incarnation of Thanos to show up later and be no less intimidating for his earlier demise. The same can be said for the time-travelling part; leaked set photos already confirmed that we would at least be revising the New York-set climax of the first Avengers film, but it goes to other places we never would have thought would be revisited again, such as the events of Thor: The Dark World (still one of the weaker MCU movies, but it’s nice to have a call-back to it regardless) and the planet at the beginning of Guardians of the Galaxy, and we come across characters that we never thought we’d see again, whether it’s Robert Redford’s villain from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One, or even Ty Simpkins as the young boy that Tony Stark befriended in Iron Man 3. Everything about this movie is so unpredictable in how it is executed that the results seem much sweeter because of it, and it’s all the more applause-worthy when you finally see all of it come together once and for all.

That includes, however, saying goodbye to some of the series’ most prominent players, in the most perfect ways imaginable. We all knew that at least one of the main three Avengers – Iron Man, Captain America and Thor – would end up not making it to the end, and sadly it was Tony Stark’s time to meet his maker, albeit in the most badass way to go out and with the most immaculate final line as well; of course, it’s extremely sad to see the very person that’s been the face of the MCU up to this point finally reach the end of the line, and I’m not going to lie his demise was the closest I got to shedding tears in this film, but it felt right for the character to bow out this way and with the best possible send-off that this character deserved. Captain America’s conclusion, too, is entirely perfect; at last, after everything he’s gone through the past 70-odd years of his extended life, he can finally spend the rest of it with Peggy Carter and pass the shield on to someone else (that being Falcon, which begs the question why not Bucky?!), which also probably means that he can finally, after all this time, get laid – sure, that’s funny, but the guy’s been frozen in ice since the 1940s and has been busy ever since fighting threat after threat, so I’d say he’s more than earned a bit of time in the sack. Even though he survives this one, Thor also gets to spend most of the movie with a much chunkier build with dreadlocks, a dishevelled beard and an unhealthy appetite for alcohol, which is a pretty gutsy decision for the character anyway but in this context it’s easy to see why he’d choose this lifestyle; either way, I can see Fat Thor becoming a popular cosplay for larger-built persons such as myself, and I am all for that. Also shocking was the unexpected sacrifice of Black Widow to obtain the Soul Stone, especially when she’s about to finally get her own spin-off movie at long last; there’s no doubt, now, that it’ll be a prequel, but it’s still a major surprise all the same.

Naturally, and inevitable given the sheer size of this cast, there are characters that get the shorter stick – Captain Marvel is disappointingly not around for as long as she was built up to be – but the main focus had to be on concluding the story arcs of the heroes we were first introduced to during the Phase One series of films, and it wrapped up everything from Bruce Banner’s struggles with the Hulk to unresolved parental issues in so neat a bow it’s practically made from vibranium. While it is sad to see some of them go, we will never forget how fun they were, how loveable, and how influential they have been for us this past decade, and Avengers: Endgame makes damn well sure they’ll be avenged.

SO, TO SUM UP…

Avengers: Endgame features some shocking twists and turns which are gutsy and entirely satisfying, and it’s an entirely pleasing slice of fan-service as a result.

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