You’re tired of superheroes.
I hear you when you say they’re all the same. I understand being fed up with another CGI bad guy. I get the lament about giant, blow-everything-up battles. And I’m tired of origin stories, too.
But allow “Avengers: Endgame” to restore your faith in the heroic.
It is not only the biggest superhero movie of all time — some of the scenes must have been insane to shoot — it is easily, without a doubt, the best.
It is a mathematical proof for superheroes, batting down — with one swing of an Asgardian ax — all the think pieces lamenting the rise of the superhero and the downfall of film and society.
In “Endgame,” Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), Nebula (Karen Gillan), War Machine (Don Cheadle), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and more (so many more) show us why we care about this superpowered nonsense.
(Mild spoilers for “Endgame” lie just ahead! You’ve been warned.)
You see, when superheroes are done well, they can be anything. Marvel has made war movies and heist movies and origin movies and spy movies and even, using my barometer, one comedy, and the studio has done an exceptional job of making these movies feel different. (Not always. But even Ted Williams didn’t bat a thousand.)
At the heart of each film has been its characters. A war hero without a home. A guy who’s so intelligent he can’t be close to anyone. A woman who doesn’t know her past. A brilliant mind trapped inside a, well, Hulk.
And “Avengers: Endgame” begins and ends with its characters.
It is grounded in their personal stories of loss, and not in space-faring, magic-wielding, CGI-laden chicanery. Its best moments are between those characters as they figure out what’s important and how to get it back.
Heck, the film goes quite some time without anyone donning armor or a cape.
For all the theorizing about the plot of “Endgame,” which was kept well under wraps, the plot doesn’t matter so much as these characters and their desire to be heroes.
Whatever it takes.
But to talk about this movie, we have to, you know, talk a little about its plot.
More than 20 films have led us to this one. In the previous film, “Avengers: Infinity War,” a superpowered purple alien named Thanos pursues the Infinity Stones, six elemental gems capable of controlling the very fabric of our universe (time, space, reality, soul, power and mind). He eventually gets them all, and he snaps his fingers, erasing half of all life in the universe, including many of Marvel’s beloved superheroes.
That’s where we find the Avengers in “Endgame.”
They lost their friends. Their families. They even (spoiler!) lost the New York Mets. Everyone is having a hard time moving on, and not just the superheroes.
“Where do we go now that they’re gone?” the words on one poster wonder.
At first, the Avengers don’t know what to do except fight. They take the fight to Thanos, and they quickly realize fighting will not save their friends and family. From there, nothing goes the way you think it will.
(This is true even during the film’s closing moments. It is surprising at every turn, and also often heartwarming.)
The movie is full of gems and gods and superheroes and theatrics; it’s about loss and redemption and sacrifice.
For all their superpowered shenanigans, the Avengers show us their humanity. They are the best of us. But they struggle. They make mistakes. They question. They doubt. They even fail.
But they persevere.
Even as the film zips through its three-plus hours — you won’t even notice; it goes by fast — and Iron Man and Cap and Nebula crisscross the film’s massive plot, it is full of big and small moments where the heroes continually show they’re doing this for the right reasons.
And through all the madcap adventure and many references to the nearly two dozen films that came before, it is funny — often very funny.
“Endgame” also acts as an interesting foil to “Infinity War.” Despite being the bad guy, Thanos was that film’s protagonist. It was about him, and his cold, emotionless desire to recalibrate the universe by destroying half of all life.
Snap back to “Endgame,” and we’re back to following the good guys. They’re in the driver’s seat. “Infinity War” worked because its plot subverted expectations — the bad guy wins! This one works because its characters subvert expectations. They’re sad. Things are hard. They need redemption.
And though you may be tired of CGI and epic battles — “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing,” I think the saying goes — you haven’t seen any like the one in “Endgame.”
It has the best hero shot you’ve ever seen. The best game of hot potato. The best girl power moment.
It’s epic. It’s full of emotion. And it pulls it off in the way only this film can.
And when the chaos all dies down, it’s back to the characters. The blinding magic and lasers and lightning all fade away, and we go back to what made you care in the first place: These people. These Avengers. These heroes.