avengers: endgame
The MCU characters have impacted lives on and off the screen, so it's only fitting they receive a tribute. (Illustration by Jaila Desper, University of Maryland, College Park)

Between “Avengers: Age of Ultron” (2015) and the paradigmatic superhero epic “Avengers: Infinity War” (2018), Marvel introduced numerous heroes into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, such as Doctor Strange, Spider-Man and Black Panther. New heroic faces provided excitement as they joined forces with the conglomerate of heroes that audiences had been watching evolve since Iron Man in 2008. The expanded web of perspectives was masterfully portrayed on screen with grand re-introductions, humorous exchanges and each new member equipped with a significant role within the overall storyline.

Marvel Studios also produced seven films in the three-year period, which built a stout foundation for the astounding third chapter of the “Avengers” films. Audiences grew further attached to characters through the onslaught of high-quality spinoff movies, which led to enhanced emotional impacts from the tragic turns in “Infinity War.” Phase 3 of the MCU also established complicated relationships between characters, leading up to the third chapter that would play pivotal roles in the film. Watching almost seven years of planning come to fruition was abundantly rewarding, let alone the planet-crumbling action and scintillating special effects that “Infinity War” dazzled with.

So how will Marvel provide as fruitful of an experience with “Avengers: Endgame” when the film is coming only a year after its previous chapter, while only having two films (“Captain Marvel” and “Ant-Man and the Wasp”) separating the two?

Financially, “Avengers: Endgame” obliterated previous box office records with a $1.2 billion opening. No film has ever even hit $700 million at the worldwide box office before, let alone cross the $1 billion mark. So, how is the film, without giving any spoilers away?

If you are expecting “Avengers: Endgame” to be a superhero film absolutely packed with bone-crushing combat and tumultuous destruction like “Infinity War,” then I hate to burst your bubble, but that’s not what it’s going for. The fourth chapter is more meticulous with its delivery, serving as more of a tribute to the long road the series has grown from. “Avengers: Endgame” memorializes its characters and their perseverance through the decade, using time travel and quantum physics as a clever medium to snap audiences back to scenes from past chapters.

The newest addition runs at a slow-boiled pace, fully explaining itself by tying up a wide array of loose ends, all while providing intimate looks into the heroes’ personal lives. Prior to seeing film, I saw the extensive time length and imagined it was because Marvel Studios was cramming glorious amounts of battles and action sequences. However, emotional sequences make up the bulk of the 3 hours and 5 minutes of “Avengers: Endgame.”

The film that hit theatres April 24 seeks to peel back the curtain for its heroes, exposing audiences to their humanity more effectively than any other superhero film has done in the past. Marvel’s heroes battle questions regarding family and mortality as each finds ways to support each other and cope with losing 50 percent of all living creatures, due to the tragic finale of its previous chapter. Some struggle to recover from the trauma before even being capable of avenging their lost ones.

Despite being more sappy than its predecessor, the film keeps from boring you out of your pants with sassy humor that consistently hits. Characters take strange and unexpected turns that you can’t help but laugh at, and the cast’s comedic delivery is dynamite. “Avengers: Endgame” especially succeeds in providing ironic, quick-stabbing one-liners that light up a theatre. The tragic turns and sacrifices made in the film are definitely ripe, but due to its humor you are more likely to cry tears of laughter rather than tears of sadness.

The newest output is certainly not as tightly knit as “Infinity War,” which is layered by Thanos’ pursuit for each infinity stone and all of the crazy consequences that come with retrieving each one. The third chapter’s emphatic appearances from its deep arsenal of heroes also kept the film accelerating through Thanos’ journey. In the case of “Avengers: Endgame,” the film is left with nearly half of their band of heroes, due to Thanos’ heinous acts. Therefore, the 2019 film spends more time penetrating deeper levels of the main characters’ psychology, but sacrifice the luxury of pleasantly bouncing around and keeping the audience on their toes as to what’s coming next.

In combination with its comedy, the film’s soul-stirring undertone leads to an enthralling finale that is heartwarming, tragic and fitfully explosive (but it takes a little while). “Avengers: Endgame” is without a doubt a must-see film. Marvel Studios have accomplished something undeniably special with the MCU campaign by releasing 22 films dispersed into three phases, which seemed to only get more captivating the further the series went along. There is no clear sign of a Phase 4 or what it would entail, but Marvel certainly delivered if “Avengers: Endgame” does in fact stand as the concluding chapter of the MCU.

Rest in peace Stan Lee, one of the creative geniuses who wrote the comic books that made these triumphant motion pictures possible.

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