Reviewed by: Blake Wilson
Importance of family and fatherhood—and of being a truly good and righteous parent
Importance of strong friendships
Caring for others
Self-sacrifice to save others
Science fiction’s depiction of the fantasy of TIME TRAVEL and how often it is used in movies—although the idea of changing the past is impossible and logically contradictory
Mass disasters and tragedies—and their after-effects
Robert Downey Jr. … Tony Stark / Iron Man
Chris Evans … Steve Rogers / Captain America
Brie Larson … Carol Danvers / Captain Marvel
Scarlett Johansson … Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow
Karen Gillan … Nebula
Paul Rudd … Scott Lang / Ant-Man
Dave Bautista … Drax
Tessa Thompson … Valkyrie
Chris Hemsworth … Thor
Evangeline Lilly … Hope van Dyne / The Wasp
Josh Brolin … Thanos
Tom Holland … Peter Parker / Spider-Man
Jon Favreau … Happy Hogan
Bradley Cooper … Rocket (voice)
Pom Klementieff … Mantis
Elizabeth Olsen … Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch
Jeremy Renner … Clint Barton / Hawkeye
Sebastian Stan … Bucky Barnes / Winter Soldier
Michelle Pfeiffer … Janet Van Dyne
Mark Ruffalo … Bruce Banner / Hulk
Tilda Swinton … The Ancient One
Winston Duke … M'Baku
Danai Gurira … Okoye
Gwyneth Paltrow … Pepper Potts
Chadwick Boseman … T'Challa / Black Panther
Don Cheadle … James Rhodes / War Machine
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Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Note: While I do my best to avoid potential spoilers for “Endgame,” some major spoilers for the previous film “Infinity War” are in this review.
Honestly, when was the last time a bad guy actually GOT AWAY with his or her evil plan?
That’s exactly what happened in last year’s “Infinity War.” Despite all of our heroes’ best efforts, Thanos still got all six Infinity Stones. And, with a snap of his fingers, half of all existence vanished into dust. This included a lot of The Avengers, such as Spider-Man, Black Panther, Doctor Strange, most of the Guardians of the Galaxy, and others.
This leaves those that remain in a post-rapture-like Earth to try and continue on with their lives. But, can anyone actually move on? Can Tony Stark and Nebula find their way back to Earth? Can The Avengers find a way to take down Thanos? And, is there any chance for those that were victims of the snap to even come back? You can bet that these heroes will do whatever it takes to avenge Earth and its fallen.
With a 3-hour runtime, the first thing you might be worried about is pacing (just look at the “Hobbit” movies, for example). However, Joe and Anthony Russo truly made this a (mostly) well-paced movie. Occasionally, a plot point will go on a little long, but it’s still entertaining. The focus is mostly on the original six Avengers, and unlike last time, they are all given plenty to do. In the meantime, the more secondary or newer characters don’t have as much to do—mostly for understandable reasons, given the circumstances.
The actors give some of their finest performances here. Robert Downey Jr. has come a long way since “Iron Man,” as he believably has shown his character’s humbling of himself, as well as his maturity over the years. He has at least two of the film’s best scenes. Meanwhile, Chris Evans once again brings Cap’s old-fashioned heroism front-and-center. Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Mark Ruffalo (Hulk), and Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye) are all given somewhat outrageous character arcs, while Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow) gives her best performance to date in the MCU. The hero with the biggest upgrade in screentime is Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), who’s given some of the best one-liners in the movie.
The overall scope of “Endgame” is toned down quite a bit from “Infinity War,” but there’s still an impressive action scene late in the game that will definitely stand out as a favorite moment for fans. There’s several well-placed pop culture references, and plenty of callbacks to previous Marvel films that will prove very entertaining to fans. Hans Zimmer’s music score once again nicely accompanies each act of the film.
“Endgame” has its share of ridiculous moments, and a few plot holes do emerge by the time the dust settles. There are some very solid cameos as well, including a few favorites from previous movies.
Aside from the heroism and sacrifice on display once again, “Endgame” carries a few other strong messages here, too. Most prominent is the importance of family and fatherhood. We see multiple examples of fathers in the story (both good and bad), and throughout the film we are reminded of how influential they are on their children. This theme is even seen in Thanos, and how his shaky influence played a part in causing his adopted family to become very dysfunctional.
We are also reminded how family isn’t just based on blood, it’s based on who cares about you. For example, Black Widow notes, “I used to have nothing. And then I got this… this family.” She reveals that ever since Hawkeye spared her life, her fellow Avengers have cared for her and inspired her to live a better life. That’s the kind of love that the Apostle Paul encourages us to show:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” -1 Corinthians 13:4-7
There’s a nice moment where Thor is given encouragement. When he admits his faults and mistakes, he’s told, “You’re just like everyone else. Your measure of success is based on being who you truly are.” Another moment reveals the importance of spending our time wisely. Someone admits, “No amount of money ever bought a second of time.” It’s a reminder that the relationships that we develop and cherish with others are worth far more than any physical possession ever could.
Violence: As usual, there’s a handful of scenes that depict heroes battling against Thanos and his forces. Explosions, hand-to-hand combat and gunplay all play a part here. Various characters are slashed and killed (mostly bloodlessly). One character is accosted and murdered in an alley mercilessly (we see a little bit of blood on his neck). There’s an intense scene where a spaceship opens fire on a building, decimating it to the ground and nearly killing everyone inside. Nebula has some of her robotic flesh burned off her hand briefly, while trying to retrieve something important. A head is chopped off. An IV is yanked out. One character falls to their death. The sometimes violent video game “Fortnite” makes an appearance in one scene.
Adult Content: In a few separate moments, characters comment on Captain America’s rear end, calling it, “That’s America’s a**!” There are form-fitting outfits, and females with low-cut outfits, and shirtless men.
Towards the beginning of the film, Captain America’s support group features a man who is implied to be Gay. He briefly discusses taking “baby steps” to start seeing another guy.
Drugs/Alcohol: Thor is shown to have become an alcoholic. He discusses various beverages he’d like to intake, and carries around beer bottles fairly often. As a result, he acts fairly inebriated in a handful of scenes. His habits aren’t exactly praised, however.
Language: This is more problematic than usual for the genre. The most common interjection here is the s-word, which is heard a dozen times altogether (4 of which come from a young child). Someone is crudely called a “d**khead”. We also hear h*** (7 times), a** (4), “oh my g**” (8), “g**d***” (2), “p*** off” (2), “d***it!” (3), “son of a b**ch” (1), and one misuse of Jesus’ name.
Other: There’s a joke about someone “peeing their pants”. Some characters lie and deceive. A few characters create magical shields, portals, and conjure other mysterious spells. Someone apparently says they can see into the future.
No current film franchise has seen the type of momentum that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has. Since the original “Iron Man,” popularity and curiosity for these films has continued to grow and grow over the past 11 years. What has it been about these movies that has kept audiences coming back for more and telling their friends? Yes, there’s great characters and action. But, what has kept audiences interested is that each film has played a small part in a large, overarching storyline. Yes, each character had a story, but there was usually something there that made each film feel like a puzzle piece to something bigger. Usually this was present through a post-credits scene or a hidden Easter-egg or two.
With “Endgame,” that puzzle is now complete, as it brings a sense of finality to what has been 11 years and 22 movies of storytelling. Now, Marvel is certainly not done with making films. However, the MCU does seem to be saying goodbye to at least a few characters here. This makes “Endgame” (like “Infinity War”) sometimes difficult watch. But, I didn’t find it relied too heavily on shock factors, like its predecessor did.
Those that have been with the MCU for years (like me) will find “Endgame” very satisfying. Maybe it’s a bit too complex, crowded, and nonsensical in places to rank among the best superhero movies of all-time. But, it’s still got enough depth, heart, genuine surprises, great action, and memorable moments to make it one of the MCU’s most enjoyable and interesting films. Joe and Anthony Russo, who have directed some of the best Marvel films, continue to impress in spearheading this franchise.
What nearly soils “Endgame,” however, are content issues. The violence isn’t quite as intense or visceral as “Infinity War” or even “Captain America: Civil War,” but it still contains a few scenes worthy of the PG-13 rating. There’s a few moments of inappropriate humor, and drunkenness/alcohol are both treated in a humorous light (if not exactly glorified). Occasionally we hear about magic and sorcery (courtesy of the world of Doctor Strange), but it’s not a consistent theme.
The biggest issue, for me, however, is in how much language was put into this script. Not to mention a good chunk of it comes from a 4 or 5-year old girl (as a punchline to a joke), and a harsh one is aimed at a few other young kids. Honestly, does no responsible adult care about what children hear or say anymore?
Then again, these movies aren’t meant for very young kids. Beyond those problems, “Endgame” honestly does feel like a family movie at times (perhaps even more so than other entries in this franchise)—with some really touching messages to boot. Yet, it is really hard for me to recommend it, because of these problems. In the end, I would say parents of kids under the age of 6th grade (especially those who haven’t watched previous Marvel movies) should definitely take serious caution here.
However, for teens, adults, and MCU fans that can put aside the content issues, I can say “Endgame” does live up to its hype.
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.