22 movies. It all started with Iron Man in 2008, and for the last decade the MCU has been plodding its way towards a conclusion that was saddled with the responsibility of bringing a saga dozens of hours long to a satisfying conclusion. Whether the grand finale that is Avengers: Endgame managed to satisfy you probably depends on how sufficiently obsessed you are with the 21 films that came before.
It’s an accomplishment in serialized film-making that Endgame doesn’t dissolve under its own mythos, and it’s a crowd-pleasing success when it decides to eschew conventional narrative storytelling and just dive into what kept people coming back over the last 11 years. It’s a stupid movie, with a stupid central plot and even worse pacing. It’s also a wonderful goodbye to a pop culture monolith that consumed and reshaped (for the better and, more often, for the worse) mainstream film-making over the last decade.
SPOILER WARNING. THERE WILL BE EXPLICIT, UNMARKED ENDGAME SPOILERS FROM HERE ON OUT. PLEASE DO NOT GET MAD AT ME IF YOU MISSED THIS WARNING.
Heading into Endgame, the biggest question left of narrative importance was simple: how would our intrepid heroes undo The Snap? Sure, the meta-narrative was all about who would die, but inside the world of the MCU, it was all about turning back time (figuratively, we might have thought, or at least on a surface level) on Thanos’s big Infinity War success. What we got instead was a very quick death for the Mad Titan not even a third of the way into the movie and a lot of questions, answered ably by Ant-Man and the Wasp and its leap into the quantum realm: the Avengers would actually have to travel back in time.
The specifics of the time traveling are stupid, though the film was at least smart enough to try and head off any prolonged head-scratching by making reference to other time travel movies. As Mark Ruffalo’s Professor Hulk (a visually unsettling hybrid of Hulk and Bruce Banner) explains, they are not changing the past so much as they are changing their own future. By bringing back the Infinity Stones from the past, they create alternate timelines, different from the ones we saw in the movies prior to Endgame. The movie mostly avoids falling into paradox fears and discussions over the meaning of time, which is all anyone can really ask for from a film that decides to touch this particular narrative third rail.
Also, here is a video about our Avengers actors now acting dumb in interviews when asked to do a certain things that do not come under their skillset.