“We’re in the end game now,” words which echoed in the ears of Marvel fans for months. This was it, not only was Endgame due to be one of the biggest films of all time, it marked a monumental occasion for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We had been building up to this moment ever since the release of Iron Man in 2008 and now the first three phases of the MCU were almost at their conclusion.
With twenty-one other films to choose from, the MCU has its share of great films – Infinity War was incredible, Guardians of the Galaxy is hilarious and Black Panther was even nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award, to just name a few.
No one can deny that the MCU boasts some awesome films, and everyone has their favourite. What makes an MCU movie good? What makes an MCU movie someone’s favourite over the other films? Of course, like all film, this is subjective. But Endgame certainly deserves to be considered as one of the MCU’s best for many reasons.
Note – there are major spoilers throughout, but let’s be honest – if you haven’t seen Endgame by now then you probably deserve to have it spoiled.
1. It does its characters justice
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has given us a plethora of great, quirky and three-dimensional characters. Everyone has their favourite, whether you are Team Iron Man or Team Cap, a fan of the Guardians or all about Ant-Man – audiences have come to be fully invested in these characters. As such, it was important for Endgame to not only be true to the characters, but to make sure that their stories were brought to an end in a way that was fitting.
Before Endgame was released, there was a lot of speculation about what would happen to the characters and in particular there was a lot of speculation about who would survive and who wouldn’t. In the end, many of the characters had survived and were reunited with their family and friends to fight on another day.
Three characters fates took on a slightly different path. Tony Stark and Natasha Romanoff lost their lives in the fight against Thanos, and Steve Rogers decided to go back and live in the past to live out his life with Peggy Carter.
Tony and Natasha’s deaths, though sad, did make complete sense within their character arcs. Tony, who had always felt like the father of the MCU, went through a classic redemption arc. He began as a cocky, ego centric and self-interested character. Though he fought for good, it wasn’t always clear cut that he would make the ultimate sacrifice if it came down to it.
As each film passed, he became more and more honourable and less and less selfish. He became a mentor to Peter and eventually an actual father to Morgan. So, it felt like the perfect bittersweet move that he would be the one that saved everyone. If Steve, like so many had believed would happen, had been the one to die saving everyone – then yes it would have made perfect sense for his character. But that was too obvious, too clear cut.
Steve has always been the hero, the epitome of a true superhero and so giving him his happy ending felt so well deserved. When it comes to Natasha, her character was always so loyal, and she was able to be tough and make the hard choices in a way that no one else could. Dying for the only family she’d ever known only went to prove further what an incredible badass she was. Just like we’d always known.
2. It has the perfect balance of action and emotion
Coming off the intense, action filled scenes of Infinity War, it would have been easy to think that Endgame would either be the same or would go too far the other way and be full of overly emotional and downcast scenes. But Endgame successfully managed to find a balance between the two, providing audiences with some awesome battles and action sequences but also delivering some real emotional gut punches. Not only that, but we also had the touches of humour that the MCU has come to be known for.
The best example of this perfect balance between action and emotion was arguably demonstrated in the final battle scene and then Tony’s funeral scene. If you look at both of these scenes side by side, they have poignant similarities. Both scenes feature the ensemble of characters coming together in a momentous moment, both scenes feature moments which will be quoted as defining moments of the MCU and both scenes evoke big reactions from the audience.
The battle scene is a fast-paced blur of action, fighting and awesome sequences of the characters using all their weapons and skills at their disposal. We see Thor, Captain America and Iron Man triple team Thanos, we see Spider-Man catch a ride with Valkyrie and Ant-Man punch a spaceship out of the sky, amongst many other things.
After that scene, which is filled with so many things to draw our eye and almost too much to take in, we have the complete opposite. Tony’s funeral is a deeply moving scene, it is slow-paced and calm. Now the audience can let the action sink in, and the emotion comes pouring through. Not many films can pull off such a great balance of tones, in a way that makes the film non jarring and watchable for the audience.
3. It’s the ultimate payoff to the previous films
After three phases and twenty-one previous films, the MCU has given us dozens of brilliant, jaw dropping and awe-inspiring moments. It has built a cinematic universe and a saga of individual stories, all of which have been playing into one overall story arc – the Infinity Stones.
When you have a momentous and long build up to something, then when it reaches its concluding part – expectations are really high, and the pressure is really on. Endgame had to simultaneously satisfy and achieve several things. Not only did it have to deliver an amazing film, it also had to conclude the story of the Infinity Stones and all the other character arcs that were due to close with this film.
If it could do this then it would be the ultimate payoff to all that came before it, and the ultimate payoff to the audience that had invested so much time and energy into it. And arguably, it did that and more, showing audiences that their time had been well spent and invested. It also brought several stories to a close in a satisfying way and left audiences eager to see what new stories the MCU would introduce with its next phase.