In my recent review of DC superhero flick Shazam!, I labeled it “the cocktail weenies appetizer” before Avengers: Endgame’s “super-loaded, mile-high platter of nachos.” Little did I know Endgame would actually arrive at my table more closely resembling a sterling cut of prime rib with a side of potatoes au gratin, green beans, a salad, horseradish sauce, au jus, and sprig of parsley, with a chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream sundae for dessert.

Sure, that may seem like a lot of food (and, well, it really is), but it all comes together perfectly to make an utterly amazing meal.

There’s no doubt that there are more moving pieces at play in Endgame than in the world’s most convoluted Rube Goldberg machine, and the thought of screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely sorting everything out and somehow making a coherent story (much less the emotionally draining, utterly satisfying masterwork they’ve delivered) is enough to give you a permanent migraine. Not a minute is wasted, not a scene feels superfluous, and anytime you can offer up a half-dozen genuinely gut-wrenching scenes alongside riffs on everything from Axe body spray to Cheez Whiz, you’ve created something truly special.

Since we all know Thanos demands our collective silence (and because I also want to steadfastly avoid the fate of the man in Hong Kong who got the crap kicked out of him for shouting Endgame spoilers at a crowd waiting in line for a showing), I’ll keep plot points to a minimum. Suffice to say that life, after the great Thanos Infinity Warsnap, has not been especially rewarding for anyone involved. After a brief overlap intro scene and a Tony Stark-centric prologue, Endgame begins in earnest five years after the snap, with the team (such as it is) largely having resigned themselves to the fact that the snap can never be undone. It’s only when Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) returns from the quantum realm that a potential solution is floated, and before you can say “Avengers, assemble!” Endgame is off and running.

Directors Joe and Anthony Russo have smashed everything together into a three-hour chunk of superhero action, heady drama, guffaw-worthy comedy, and tear-jerking melancholy so superbly crafted you’ll find yourself wondering more than a few times if you’re still sitting in a theater watching a “comic book movie”. As fantastic as the original The Avengers was—way back in 2012—Endgame makes it look like a throw-away Saturday morning cartoon by comparison.

And it’s not just the story and the spectacle that vault Endgame over every other Marvel movie to date, the cast tightens its collective belt a notch or two (except for Thor—you’ll get it when you see it), turning in brilliantly nuanced and heartfelt performances across the board. Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans have already officially signed off from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and their work here is a searing testament to the power of saving the best for last. Though neither, surely, will get any notice when awards season rolls around in eight months, it doesn’t mean they’re not deserving, along with the film as a whole.

Tie a napkin around your neck, pull your seat up to the table, and get ready to gorge yourself on a feast of everything there is to love about going to the movies. And when it’s all done, and you’ve dabbed your mouth, relish the fact that you have just enjoyed what may be your favorite meal ever.


5/5 stars