A team of superheroes scrambles to reverse an apocalypse.
“In case it wasn’t already evident, it’s Mickey Mouse’s world, and we’re just living in it,” said Miles Surrey in TheRinger.com. When Disney rolled out the final chapter in a Marvel superhero series that began 22 films and 11 years ago, the payoff even exceeded expectations. Last weekend, Avengers: Endgame took home 90 percent of the money America spent on movie tickets, scoring a $357 million haul that obliterated the weekend record set by 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War. The new film’s $1.2 billion worldwide take also nearly doubled the previous record and puts Endgame on course to at least challenge 2009’s Avatar ($2.8 billion) as the top-grossing movie ever. What’s more, all the coming movies that could play in the same stratosphere—Toy Story 4, the live Lion King, the next Star Wars entry, and 2020’s first Avatar sequel—are Disney properties, too.
However final this ending may or may not be for the Avengers saga, Endgame “satisfyingly closes the book on its first era—11 years that remade the movies,” said Kyle Smith in NationalReview.com. The action picks up five years after the stunning conclusion of Infinity War, when the supervillain Thanos snapped his fingers and turned half the universe’s life-forms—including half its superheroes—to ash. But though the surviving heroes feel those losses as they seek to reverse them, “the movie is also funny, rousing, and, above all, endearing”—reminding us how much we’ve come to enjoy Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, and several others in their comic-book roles. “This might be the most staggering quantity of acting-star charisma ever assembled.”
“Endgame isn’t a great movie, but there are flashes of greatness in it,” said Stephanie Zacharek in Time. Because it was built not to disappoint, “it’s bold in the safest possible way”—always lavish but truly inventive only if you count time travel as a fresh plot device or credit the writers’ success in giving nearly every hero a gratifying arc. Some beloved figures even die, seemingly for good. The action scenes, which mostly arrive late, have “the usual bland competence of Marvel movies,” said David Sims in TheAtlantic.com. By then, though, the film has earned its three-hour running time by basking in its stars’ magnetism. The broader Marvel franchise will carry on—including with a new Spider-Man movie in July. But these Avengers are done as a group, and it’s hard to know whether the series will ever be able to replicate “the peculiar magic” of their final chapter, which “had me realizing with a jolt, over and over again, how much I cared about the lives of these wisecracking, CGI-bedazzled champions.” ■