I’ve been a superhero fan ever since I was a child running around pretending to shoot webs out of my hand and stopping imaginary bad guys from robbing banks. My mother loves to tell the stories of me pretending to be Spider-Man and making the noises of the web. Thwip Thwip. It’s a story that always makes me feel warm and toasty inside. Part of it is the simplicity of childhood. The lack of stress of work, bills, and responsibility. The other half is childhood wonderment and excitement. That need to hold on to something that is so valuable and instrumental in molding the type of person you’re going to be. I was lucky to grow up in a household where imagination and superheroes were encouraged and because of that superheroes became a part of my DNA at a very young age and helped define my childhood.
There was a time where I kind of separated myself from superhero culture. I kept it at arms distance but wasn’t actively involved. As a teenager you want to try and “fit in” and seem “cool” and suddenly superheroes aren’t as cool in tenth grade as they were in fifth. I strayed for a little while, but I never fully distanced myself. I never forgot about Spider-Man or Captain America even if I wasn’t spending a lot of time with them. I may not have played with my action figures but I also wasn’t willing to put them in the basement to collect dust just yet.
Then one day I was on line at a Blockbuster Video and picked up an issue of Rolling Stone. There was this small blurb concerning an upcoming Marvel Comics event called Civil War where the heroes were all fighting each other. My mind instantly traveled back to a time where it was socially acceptable to play out endless scenarios with my action figures. Scenarios that would test and shape my imagination as well as the durability of my toys. And here in my hand was a magazine telling me that my childhood friends were about to start fighting each other and I felt nostalgic. I realized how much I missed superheroes, and with Civil War, I started the process of re-acclimating myself within superhero culture. Trying to make up for years of lost time.
That’s about thirteen years ago now, and a lot has changed since I picked up that issue of Rolling Stone. We now live in a world where superhero culture is celebrated by damn near everyone. It’s fascinating to behold. Comic book fans were the outcasts, the butt of jokes, and now everyone is coming to the realization that superheroes and comics… well, they’re actually pretty cool. It’s easy to make the joke that now the “nerds” run the world, but I like to look at it from the perspective that everyone else is just playing catch up. Like I had to do thirteen years ago. That there are stories here to be told with meaning and relatable characters. That superpower doesn’t negate the human factor of our heroes, and Marvel Studios has helped introduce an entirely new generation to comic books and superheroes. Iron Man, Captain America, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and Loki are all household names now, something that I still can’t believe. If fifteen-year-old Kevin had only known he probably wouldn’t have ever strayed from the path.
Last year when Infinity War was released it seemed like a cumulation of everything that Marvel Studios had created within the MCU.
“At the end of the day, Infinity War delivers what may be considered the greatest comic book movie spectacle of all time. From the minute the movie opens all the way to the final post-credit scene the film feels massive and important like you’re watching something profoundly epic. Infinity War is an event. A celebration.”
That was apart of the closing of my review, and I still feel that way. Infinity War was a feast. This event that still doesn’t seem possible. It took all my action figures from when I was a child and splashed them across a movie screen in this massive nostalgic trip that allowed me to celebrate both my childhood and adulthood. That told me I could hold on to these heroes and moments and allow them to shape me in a different way. The whole thing was mind-blowing, and I never expected to experience something quite like that in my life. But once I had, I felt represented. I felt elated. I felt… such deep joy. That’s a lot of emotion to come from a superhero movie.
In that regard, Avengers Endgame seemed to have this impossible task of living up to those feelings. Infinity War was this epic celebration of comics and superheroes, how could a sequel possibly live up to that? What could be the follow-up act? Movies within the MCU come with a certain degree of expectations now, and while they’re still fun and exciting, we also want them to live up to the hype. As a childhood fan of superheroes and comics, we understand that some of you are just noticing them for the first time but we want them to stick around. We want you to see why we’ve loved these stories and heroes most of our lives.
Avengers Endgame was given an impossible task… and it far exceeded any and all of my expectations.
It’s very difficult to write a review for this film and it has very little to do with spoilers. I understand that despite the box office numbers that there are still people out there who haven’t seen the movie. Those people deserve to experience Endgame as it was intended. As an open love letter to the MCU and its fans. If Infinity War was the spectacle than Endgame is the more intimate, personal conclusion to this narrative. Don’t get me wrong, Endgame has spectacle in breathtaking fashion, but don’t come in expecting Infinity War 2. No, this is very much its own film that takes everything that made Infinity War great and expands upon. Upping the tension, emotion, and character and delivering something that not only resonates with the audience but manages to celebrate everything that came before it.
Endgame should be impossible. By all means, this should be a movie that collapses under the weight of its expectations, but it doesn’t. It balances eleven years of MCU storytelling across its Hulk like shoulders with such ease and care. The Russo Brothers not only understand the universe they’re working in, but they appreciate it. Endgame is quite literally a celebration of everything the MCU has done to this point. Just about all the twenty-one movies that came before it have a place here, and they don’t play out as cheap easter eggs either. No, everything serves a purpose. A reminder. A nostalgic, emotional note. Character growth. Everything within Endgame is deliberate and calculated with the utmost respect for its source material.
There is a very real Return of the King feel here… minus the fifteen endings. Endgame represents the end of an era. The MCU going forward will be different. There is no doubt about that. Endgame isn’t the final chapter of the Marvel Cinematic Universe but the closing of something that has exceeded anything that’s happened in film before it. A twenty-two film shared universe that asks to be binged. Where each movie is a small piece of an ever-evolving puzzle. A puzzle that finally takes its full, spectacular shape with Endgame. This is all about the journey and all journeys have an end.
Endgame and the entire MCU have done something special over the course of these eleven years, and no matter what comes next, it will never match what came before it. And that’s okay. The future of the MCU is allowed to be different and new, and that’s why we’ll love it. Before we move on to this evolution though, Endgame serves as a reminder of the magic of storytelling. The celebration and growth of characters. The power of imagination. The love of community.
As a child, I never would have imagined going to a packed movie theater where all my favorite superheroes were about to be on screen. I never would have imagined this packed theater cheering and clapping as the story progressed. I never would have imagined the tears that streamed down my face as I watched. Tears that represented so many different things. I don’t know if we ever see another movie come along with the same amount of magnitude and cultural significance as Avengers Endgame. This feels generational but the funny thing is the number of generations that it speaks to.
Avengers Endgame is the movie we want it to be. It’s the movie we need it to be. It’s a gift. It’s a celebration. It’s a love letter. Not only to the stories and characters who make the universe but the fans who have followed them along the way. In a lot of ways, Endgame is beautiful. Avengers Endgame is more than a comic book movie about superheroes. It represents so many different things to so many different people. And for that… I love it three thousand.