It's hard to believe that we live in a time where watching a 22-movie saga is now possible in a movie theater.
It was only 11 years ago when Robert Downey Jr. told the world that he was Iron Man for the first time in 2008. Even back then, the idea of fitting six superheroes into one team-up movie in "The Avengers" seemed overstuffed – not to mention incredibly self-absorbed.
Now we've gone through the Marvel Cinematic Universe's entire journey as it culminates into this three-hour epic, from watching Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) suit up for the first time as Captain America to watching Thanos (Josh Brolin) wipe out half of the universe in "Avengers: Infinity War."
The most impressive thing about all of this is not how many super-powered characters they're able to fit onto the screen all at once – it's how it's still able to retain its heart while doing so.
Taking place after the events of "Avengers: Infinity War," the Avengers are left crippled, broken and devastated after Thanos did what he promised to – collect all six of the Infinity Stones and wipe out half of all life in the universe, reducing many of the Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and even Spider-Man (Tom Holland) to dust.
Humanity has tried to move on from Thanos' fateful snap. Time and time again, the Avengers are told they need to do the same.
But none of them can forget how much they've lost.
Now resolved to make Thanos pay for everything he's done, the original Avengers assemble with the likes of Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), War Machine (Don Cheadle), Nebula (Karen Gillan), and Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) for one last fight to protect all that they hold dear.
As Doctor Strange said in "Infinity War," the Avengers are in the Endgame now.
One of the immediate things that strike you about "Avengers: Endgame" is how different it feels from the rest of the movies in its cinematic universe. Every movie so far, from "Iron Man" all the way to "Black Panther," has retained some sense of euphoric joy and enthusiasm to them, fulfilling these superhero fantasies that make us feel like kids again. Even in "Infinity War," which ended on a cripplingly devastating cliffhanger, started with a sense of scale that made our inner comic-book nerd scream in excitement.
But "Avengers: Endgame" does not start off in a joyous tone. Indeed, it is very mournful and reflective – as somber as a funeral and twice as quiet. I was surprised to find that in the first two acts of this movie, there wasn't a whole lot of action to take in. It was all character development, following all of our heroes as they struggle to deal with the greatest losses they've ever faced in their lives.
The consequences from "Infinity War" carried over into "Endgame." That's rare for an action blockbuster and even rarer for a Marvel superhero movie.
It isn't until the third act when the movie explodes into the comic-book fun and madness that you've become acclimated to throughout this whole franchise. And don't worry fellow reader – I won't spoil anything here. What I will say is that I felt fulfilled to every bone in my body and then some. From the Chitauri invasion fight in the first "Avengers" all the way to the climactic battle between Cap and Iron Man in "Captain America: Civil War," "Avengers: Endgame" ends on a note so powerful that it shakes the entire theater to its core.
Words can't do justice to what I felt in the theater as the Endgame drew near.
I had no idea a decade ago how much this universe would grow beyond 11 years and 22 movies – how expansive this world would become, or how much it would mean to the millions of fans who have passionately followed it all these years. "Avengers: Endgame" is exactly what it purports to be – the resolution to these heroes' journeys, the culmination of years of storytelling and the end to this multi-year saga that we've all become a part of.
To say it meets our gargantuan expectations is a severe understatement. It's an emotionally-charged blockbuster not unlike "Ben-Hur" or "The Lord of the Rings" – one that earns every frame of its three-hour runtime.
It is nothing short of a cinematic epic – one that we definitely won't forget anytime soon.
I give “Avengers: Endgame” five lightbulbs out of five.
“Avengers: Endgame” is rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action and some language.