Screenshot (99)“Endgame” is the culmination of over a decade of hard work; a unique artistic vision that thrived thanks to a pool of talented writers, producers, actors, and an incredibly loyal fanbase. What was once considered a risk in 2008 is now mainstream – superhero films now absolutely dominate the box office, filling up release schedules and consistently beating their competition. They owe their success to this franchise. Even those audience members who did not find themselves lured by the irreverance of Tony Stark, the integrity of Captain America, or the plain silliness of Ant Man, can only offer respect to what has been achieved by Kevin Feige and the MCU team. “Endgame” feels like as much of a poignant end to ambition on behalf of its studio as it does to an end of an era for its characters.

“Endgame” is specifically a movie for the fans of the MCU, rewarding their loyalty and adoration at every step of its meticulously crafted and emotionally writhing screenplay. It’s hard to imagine anyone walking out of the theater disappointed. “Endgame” checks all the boxes, and even throws in a few surprises, some of which may not be taken with much fondness. It’s hard to imagine that 21 films ago, this was all planned; maybe not ‘to a T,’ but a general outline was at least in mind. The consistent quality of the MCU is something to be admired. Its success in holding on to its actors and fans is a testament to expert marketing, unifying leadership, and honest, creative brainpower.

In terms of sheer spectacle, “Endgame” may never be surpassed. It rightfully places its most iconic characters at the forefront of an epic conflict, elevating them to the legendary status they deserve. While “Infinity War” was distracted with so many characters and subplots, “Endgame” is a much more focused film, deriving as much entertainment value from its more solemn moments as its monumental battle sequences. Marvel has always given its due to its protagonists, and I have immensely enjoyed the more character-driven entries in the franchise (see “Civil War.”) “Endgame” continues this tradition in the most satisfying ways imaginable, with some arcs coming to a close and others just beginning.

For our original, most beloved Avengers, their stories come full circle. Although the time travel plot was a bit predictable following the events of “Infinity War,” it’s incredibly enjoyable, playing heavily on nostalgia and offering plenty of laughs along with its more serious, heartfelt moments. Those moments are ones that will be cherished among fans of the MCU forever. I’ll admit, at times, I started to choke up, for one character in particular. Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor occupy the most screen time, the latter of which has the most unexpected transformation. I liked it, although it may have been overplayed at times for laughs. Banner and the Hulk come to terms with each other, which I found immensely fulfilling. Captain America receives a very touching send-off. The real focus of the story falls on Tony Stark’s character, which is only fitting, since he is the one that started it all. For over a dozen years, Downey brought an inseparable persona to the character, and an emotional depth that is fully realized in his swan song.

As for its flaws, “Endgame” does feel a bit too polished at times, and I wished it had felt more uncertain and spontaneous in its first hour. I still never felt that sense of hopelessness that I wanted to feel walking out of “Infinity War.” The time travel plot was predictable, and the explanation behind the operation of time travel is completely nonsensical. It derives most of its credibility by making jabs at other films dealing with time travel. There’s also some inconsistencies in the character of Thanos, who seems to switch from role of savior to murderer in an instant. However, none of these are the focus of “Endgame.” The time travel is meant to provide us with exchanges between characters that we have yearned to see for some time. They reward our commitment and expectations, and there is true admiration given to the characters and the fandom. The stakes have never been higher, and for once in a Marvel film, the conclusions are resonant. There’s no end credits scene. It is truly the end game, and some things (or people) will never come back.

“Endgame” is the ultimate blockbuster experience. I hesitate in saying the word “blockbuster” because I think its intentions are better than that. The “Transformers” entries are considered blockbusters. “Endgame” is a phenomenon. My only question is, how can Marvel continue this success? Will it be as popular moving forward? Can these lesser favorites carry the mantle of their superstar counterparts? I suppose they’ll do whatever it takes.