Note: There are no spoilers for Avengers: Endgame in this article, beyond what has already been shown, referenced, or very clearly hinted at in trailers, ads, and merchandise. There ARE spoilers for many of the previous Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films, particularly Avengers: Infinity War, for what I hope are obvious reasons.
Also note: There is one possible extremely minor spoiler, but it is hidden such that you have to click on it to be spoiled.
1. Does it live up to its promise?
And how. Avengers: Endgame is the best superhero movie I’ve ever seen. Already full of action, plot, and special effects, because it could not exist without those, it nonetheless manages to be at turns very poignant and very funny. I’m sure there are people out there who would dislike this movie, but I can’t for the life of me figure out why. The movie raises at least as many questions as it answers, has plot holes that will likely never be resolved, and lasts for three hours, but none of those matter at all while you watch it. It grabs you and pulls you along for a rollercoaster ride of complex story, callbacks to previous MCU movies, humor from unexpected places, and very serious pathos. If no scene in this movie makes you cry or makes you (try to) stop yourself from jumping out of your seat cheering, get yourself checked out in case you’re unknowingly a robot or a Vulcan.
I would also add that the movie is very satisfying. As someone who’s seen all the previous movies – even the subpar Iron Man 2 and Thor: The Dark World – I was afraid that Endgame wouldn’t feel as… conclusive as it does. I don’t mean it concludes the entire MCU, of course, but it made me feel like I’d gotten my money’s and time’s worth for what I’d invested in the 21 movies that preceded it.
2. Should I bring my kids to see it?
If they’ve seen Avengers: Infinity War, you must take them to Endgame, because it would be cruel to let the story end there for anyone. If they haven’t seen Infinity War, you should show them that first – assuming they’re ready for it of course.
3. Which previous MCU movies should I watch or re-watch to get the full effect of the new one?
Endgame is a direct sequel to Infinity War, so you absolutely should re-watch that. The aforementioned callbacks to previous MCU movies reference nearly all 21 of them (if not actually all – I wasn’t counting). You won’t get the full effect of Endgame if you don’t catch those callbacks, but if you’ve seen the films at least once – even if not that recently – you’ll probably get most. And I’m not sure the I-got-the-inside-joke chuckles are worth spending hours viewing other films unless you’ve got a ton more time on your hands than I do.
GeekDad writer Greg Howley wrote an excellent, more detailed article on the subject last month.
4. When’s a good time for a bathroom break?
There aren’t any; there are only bad times and worse times. I really wish Disney/Marvel had put an intermission in the movie, because it’s three hours long and jam-packed with story, leaving no extraneous scenes. However, they didn’t, movie theater drinks are big, and human bladders can only hold so much. So:
The first least-worst time is in the second act (I’m assuming that if you go before the movie starts you can at least make it through the first act without needing to go again). It’s hard to explain without spoilers, but wait for the group to return to the Avengers HQ and do some science-y stuff. After someone refers to some testing beginning, you have a window of a few minutes in which no essential plot points are made. You’ll miss some of the (surprisingly large amount of) humor, but you can’t have it both ways.
The next time is later in the second act, when Thor arrives at his destination for his part of the mission (keeping it as vague as I can). There’s some very funny moments and a little plot in the next few minutes, but you’ll still be able to figure out what’s going on when you return to your seat.
The third act is entirely full of worst times to leave the theater. I mean it: there are moments of humor, but some of them also move the plot forward, and those that don’t are so brief there’s no way to make the trip in time. If you just have to go during the third act, I suggest you don’t wait too long, because of course you don’t want to miss the climactic moments, and I suggest you perform the required activity as quickly as humanly possible.
See question 6 below for another hint.
5. Is it worth paying more to see it in 3D and/or IMAX?
The preview screening I attended was the normal 2D version, and it was absolutely fine. Without having seen it in either 3D or IMAX I can’t be sure, but I suspect 3D would help in quite a few scenes where more pronounced depth could make the action easier to follow. On the other hand, 3D rendering makes movies darker (by necessity), and Endgame has a lot of already-dark scenes, so there may be a tradeoff there. I’m not sure I’d advise IMAX, because there’s already so much going on on screen that seeing it on a huge screen might make it more difficult to follow. Again, these are just speculation based on seeing only the 2D version.
6. Do I have to stay through the end credits for an extra scene?
No, you don’t. That’s not a typo: this is the first MCU movie with no mid- or end-credits scene. Once you see the last scene in the film, you’ll understand why nothing else should or could possibly need to follow it. So this is good news for those for whom nature is calling, because you won’t miss anything by leaving the theater as soon as the credits start to roll.
I should mention that there is one audio extra at the very end. When the Marvel Studios logo appears, there is a noise to be heard. It’s not dialogue, and it’s not completely clear what the noise means, so I’d say it’s really not worth waiting that long for. If you want to know what the sound is, expand the hidden (very minor) spoiler below:
I have a theory about what the sound means, which I’ve discussed in this article [SPOILERS].
I’ll explain in a subsequent article regarding questions raised by the movie. I’ll put a link to that article here when it’s published.
Disclosure: I was invited to a free press screening of Avengers: Endgame. All opinions expressed here are my own.