Avengers: Endgame is hard movie to talk about without getting into spoiler territory almost immediately. If you want to avoid spoilers, read my spoiler-free review instead.


Seriously, even if you haven’t seen it and don’t care to be spoiled, I would still recommend seeing it first before reading further.




Avengers: Endgame spoilers below.




Act One

The opening of the film is a huge subversion on expectations. Going in, I assumed the plot of this movie would center around finding Thanos and working to defeat him. But instead Thanos destroys the Infinity Stones and the Avengers behead him before the fifteen-minute mark. The movie that follows is a character study of the original six members of the Avengers and their inability to move on after surviving the last film.

Honestly, I appreciated focusing on the fallout of Thanos’s snap and how people react to a cataclysmic event. I was worried for a good chunk of the film that the direction of the film’s plot was going to be so grim and slow that I would walk away unhappy. Beyond the opening scene establishing how Clint Barton’s family was taken from him in The Snap, and Antman’s return to offer some levity, I spend most of the first hour anxious for the story to develop. Once we arrived at time travel to reverse the death of half the universe, I was game for how the team would pull it off.

Act Two

There were more than a few reviews for Avengers: Infinity War that belittled that film for being too much of a fan service for people that had seen all of the other Marvel films. It’s true that Infinity War wasted no time setting up characters and got into the action. But the second act of this film, as the characters time jump into the events of The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Thor: The Dark World, becomes a series of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameos for rabid fans who have seen each film. The plot is probably a random mess for people who haven’t seen the films these characters are being pulled from. Thankfully the time travel plot doesn’t spiral out of control too much.

The only part that overstayed its welcome for me was Natasha and Clint’s trip to Vormir to retrieve the Soul Stone. While there is great payoff, the back and forth over who would sacrifice themself twists a few too many times for my taste. A hop back to 1970 resolves itself fairly quickly, with payoff for both Steve and Tony. And the developing plot with Thanos’s crew as they learn of the “time heist” in 2014 doesn’t distract from story too much, raising the stakes for the audience before the explosive final act.

Act Three

Going into this final act I sat wondering if I was going to walk away from this movie content. It wasn’t until the reveal of how Thanos was going to strike back at our heroes in his future that everything came together in one glorious explosive moment. At that moment I realized this story would finally get the resolution I was hoping for.

The third act of this film was so incredible as a comic book fan. Watching the trio of Captain America, Ironman, and Thor finally take on Thanos together and battle to near parity speaks to how powerful and threatening Thanos is, even without Infinity Stones. Captain America wielding Mjolnir was my one audible grunt of excitement in the film. The fight that follows established why Steve Rogers is not a fighter to underestimate.

And then Thanos calls in his reinforcement, finally lifting the stakes as high as they possibly can. All hope is lost for a brief second, and then a previously deceased Sam Wilson comes in over Steve’s headset and says, “on your left.” As the whole of the Marvel Cinematic Universe spilled out onto the battlefield, my heart throbbed out of my chest. While not as elegantly handled as Civil War or Infinity War, the display of powers on screen finally erupted in the ultimate endzone dance. Tony makes the sacrifice play, defeating Thanos and his army with his own snap. We get the funeral of Tony Stark and the retirement of Steve Rogers rather succinctly.

Talking Moments

To close, I would like to talk about my favorite details of the film, in no exact order.

Going into the last film, I never imagined that Thanos would actually blink half the life in the universe. I should not have been surprised that this film subverted my expectation as well, but the fact that it all happened in less than twenty minutes meant that we spend 90% of the film in uncharted waters. And I loved that.

I may have missed other echoes of Thanos’s journey to collect the stones, but the near shot-for-shot recreation of retrieval of the Soul Stone was a great callback. The telling detail was that when Thanos awakens with the Soul Stone after sacrificing Gamora, he stands and teleports away. When Clint awakens after Natasha sacrifices herself, he takes a moment to grieve.

The moment where Thanos has Stormbreaker pressing into Thor’s chest, for a second I expected Thor to say, “You should have gone for the head” as Mjolnir rocketed in. But instead, we are given the image of Captain America finally wielding the hammer, a far more exciting payoff. In the final fight, the troops of Wakanda portaling in, the girl power fight scene, and Carol Danvers going one-on-one against Thanos without breaking a sweat all had me welling up with fanboy emotions.

There is a detail of Thanos’s motives I will spend weeks trying to understand the psychology behind. As Thanos in 2014 discovers that his plan to wipe out half the the universe will one day be successful, he is also faced with the fact that the survivors will not be grateful for his “sacrifice.” He follows our heroes back to present day and he faces down Captain America, Ironman, and Thor> Thanos tells them that he will reclaim the Infinity Stones they heisted and use them to wipe the universe down to the last atom, remaking a universe that will be grateful to him. And suddenly in that moment, the “self-sacrificing” Thanos of the last film, who was willing to indifferently take the lives of a universe—which of course, didn’t include himself—shows his hand that it won’t be worth it if he’s not praised for it. Willing to burn it all down, we’re finally given the real Mad Titan from the comics. Again, I eerily loved it.

This film is not perfect, but I think when I eventually see it for a second time I will enjoy it more knowing where it’s going so I can enjoy the journey. Overall, I think it is a good sendoff to the first chapter of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I don’t know what the series will be like without Ironman and Captain America, I fully believe there are plenty of stories to tell. I don’t know where we go from here, but I’m happy to have been here for the ride.

Ryan Sainio is a Graphic Designer who writes about EDH, the EDH community, and streams on Twitch in his down time. He has been playing Magic: The Gathering since 7th Edition in 2002 and values flavorful and fun gameplay over competitively optimized decks.

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