When the first Ironman movie came out my children were elementary school age. I was still a hands-on software developer, and my first marriage wasn’t quite over yet. It’s been 11 years since this film launched, and just like real life, a LOT has happened. In this past decade we’ve been introduced to dozens of new characters, and the small little plotline that started as an after-credits scene has exploded into a cinematic phenomena that redefined how to film comic book movies. The entire MCU experience has changed the very notion of a big blockbuster, as fans flocked to movie after movie with high expectations of seeing big battles, great humor, and a complex intertwined plot that spans the childhood of a generation.
It all came to fruition in Avengers: Endgame. Instead of putting up big spoiler warnings, or trying to write a vague review, I’m going to seek to answer one simple question.
Was it worth it?
Reflecting back on how the entire Infinity Stone saga moved through all of the various properties I’m struck by how smart it was for Marvel to invest in an entire universe instead of trying to retcon one thing after another. Marvel took a big picture approach to the entire story arc and it showed in the execution. Comic books have long been the king of the crossover event. Going back into my childhood I remember big events in the DC Universe like Crisis on Infinite Earths that would span multiple titles, and would culminate into a huge world changing finale. As a comic reader I would find myself buying titles I never would have thought to pick up, just because they were part of the overall story arc. It introduced me to lots of different characters that I might never have read, and gave me a broader perspective on the world that the writers were trying to create.
In a nutshell, that’s what these final movies in the Infinity Stone saga are. A perfect representation of this old comic book paradigm, brought to the big screen. Each of these movies in the saga can stand on their own, and the writers and actors did an amazing job bringing an unbelievable world to life. However, our desire to see what happens next helps draw us to one after the other. We want to see our favorite heroes, but we also want to find out what happens next with these weird stones. It brings us into the world in a way that no other movie property has done in the past.
However, these big crossover events don’t work unless the payoff works. In the case of Avengers: Endgame, the entire saga comes to a wonderfully satisfying conclusion. It’s the perfect movie to wrap up something as huge as the story that’s been built up over 11 years. I walked out of the theater with a smile on my face, mostly from the satisfaction of a masterfully told story. The visuals are amazing, of course. The action is epic, and the humor is spot on. All of those movie elements are executed perfectly but what impressed me the most was the story.
The payoff was totally worth it. For me, that’s the best thing I can say about this movie.