Dustin Steinhoff, News Editor

“Avengers: Endgame” takes place (for the most part) five years after the events of “Avengers: Infinity War,” that of which resulted in the demise of characters such as Black Panther, Spider-Man and Star Lord. Due to the events that took place in the end credit scene of “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” Scott Lang discovers a way to make time travel a possibility and with Bruce Banner and Tony Stark’s help, time travel devices are created for the remaining Avengers to go back in time and gather the Infinity Stones to undo the events in the finale of “Avengers: Infinity War.”

Marvel films have done something that no other had ever successfully done before: they created a cohesive, satisfying and expansive shared universe where the lead protagonists and side characters of one franchise interact with characters from multiple other franchises. This is reminiscent of the crossovers and interactions between characters of different franchises in Marvel comic books. Translating this method of world-building to film is especially impressive considering the format of movies. Many movies fail to make the universe of one movie believable or interesting, whereas Marvel has created a single cinematic universe so captivating that it has produced over 20 successful stories within it. Additionally, all films within the Marvel Cinematic Universe have been well-received by critics, which all have “fresh” ratings on the film review-aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes.

While I believe any moviegoer could enjoy this movie as a visually appealing, smartly written and fun action movie, this movie is a lot more than that to dedicated Marvel movie fans. As a Marvel fan myself, I have seen every Marvel movie that has been released in theaters, even ones that are not part of the current Marvel Cinematic Universe (sorry, “Howard the Duck”). When I watched “Avengers: Endgame,” I was seeing my knowledge of these franchises and characters reward me in multiple ways. On the surface, I was catching nods to previous Marvel movies or comics in the form of call-backs and references. However, the real reason to watch all the preceding films is to witness the character development of dozens of characters and being able to watch a film with a cohesive storyline that includes all of these characters.

The characterization of the protagonists has evolved over the course of their movies, as have their relationships with other characters. This is the main reason why it is so satisfying watch these characters interact. They are all fully fleshed-out characters with very different experiences, all interacting with one another with some really witty dialogue.

The writers and directors of this movie also evolved characters in some genuinely surprising ways. Bruce Banner reflected on his loss against Thanos and his relationship with his counterpart, the Hulk, and mastered his control over it by keeping his normal mindset intact while maintaining the physical attributes of the Hulk. Other Avengers took defeat much harder, such as Thor who blamed himself for the loss against Thanos, plunging him into depression and isolation which resulted in some weight gain that gets poked fun at throughout the film. While I doubt anyone saw these changes coming, these changes helped bring some levity and quirkiness to the film that I enjoyed a lot. It also helped to showcase the emotional and mental ramifications of the Avengers’ failure in the previous film.

While I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, it is not perfect. It’s pacing seems somewhat uneven or scattered at times. This seems to be the byproduct of the film’s structure which is essentially broken down into three parts: establishing the aftermath of “Avengers: Infinity War,” the Avengers’ “time heist” and the finale/resolution. The first moves at a (relatively) slower pace than the second act, which makes it seems almost rushed by comparison.

Another pacing problem came during the film’s resolution. Following the climax, the movie is then tasked with tying up the story’s loose ends while also providing closure for a multitude of characters that the audience may or may not see in any future movies. While most of these scenes are still compelling and serve the characters well, the film’s flow does take a hit with the slower pace. This is a complaint that is somewhat common with the final movie of multiple film series, such as “Lord of the Rings.” However, these are not huge complaints, because despite the somewhat uneven pacing, it is such a small flaw compared to the number of aspects the film gets right.

The film’s spectacle never ceased to be impressive, culminating in a climactic battle with nearly every living superhero, Asgardian and sorcerer facing off against Thanos, the Black Order and their army. The battle is so massive and impressive, I am unsure how Marvel will aim to top this in the future.

Unlike many previous Marvel movies, “Avengers: Endgame” does not really spend any time setting up future movies. In previous films, characters might say or do something that would hint toward future events for these characters or the universe. With a lack of many moments like these, “Avengers: Endgame” truly feels like the conclusion to a 10-year story.