If — and that is a big if — this is indeed the endgame, there could scarcely have been one better. Having laboured over setting up the final battle in Infinity War, Directors Anthony and Joe Russo get their act together to give a proper, emotional, funny and, yes, even spectacular, send-off to a cast of characters we have come to know (and, mostly love) over 22 films and 10 years.
Where they seemed to be having trouble tracking the many heroes, and superheroes, and justifying their pay grade and presence last time, the Russos find a way to hold it all together now — though, admittedly, they have fewer heads than in Infinity War given that Thanos had made many vanish. Still, when the storyline seems to be getting out of hand — as tales involving time travel, quantum physics, and infinity stones can invariably do — the Russos with commendable clarity reel it back in. There is pathos in levity here and levity in pathos, with writers Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely (who have many Avenger films on their resume) tackling love, fatherhood, motherhood and parenthood with a light touch which would do even better films proud.
It also ultimately gives us a great villain in Thanos — brilliantly performed in motion-capture by Josh Brolin. A villain convinced not just of the motivations of his own villainy but also that it may just be a set piece in the larger endgame of the universe — in his words, a man like him, believing in and triggering the cycle of extinction and renewal, for continuum, is “inevitable”. For the sake of avoiding spoilers, let’s just say it’s fraught with risk where Endgame chooses to meet him — though expected given the pensive ending of Infinity War — and how it sets up the clash this time.