Once again directed by Joe & Anthony Russo, starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner as the original Avengers, Paul Rudd as Ant-Man and Josh Brolin as Thanos, mega-blockbuster Avengers: Endgame is the direct sequel of Avengers: Infinity War. Besides having to wrap up a story as monumental and gargantuan in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) as Infinity War , Endgame has a second and much more serious burden – to wrap up the stories of many characters that have graced the screen throughout the decade.

The story picks up where Infinity War left it, i.e. after Thanos successfully removed half of all life in the universe. The original six Avengers were left intact and, in Endgame, they must find a way to fix everything, whatever it takes. The previous MCU entries have always felt slightly inconsequential, because we can always expect an Avenger or two to pop up again in a future instalment. However, Endgame, for the first time in the history of the MCU, has to convey a sense of finality. It has to provide a conclusion to the sprawling storylines and characters the MCU introduced, especially for the first batch of Avengers, who we have grown to love and cherish; and I find Endgame’s conclusion very satisfying and well executed, with multiple character arcs tying up organically and elegantly.

This is not to say that the film is perfect. Without mentioning any specifics, Endgame can be very easily dissected into three acts – a sombre and slower first act where the effect of Thanos’ massacre is explored, a relatively upbeat and comical second act, and an indescribably epic third act.

The first act presents the most human side of our heroes, and felt more like an episode of The Leftovers than a superhero blockbuster. The second act has a much faster pace, but is also slightly disappointing (a lot of people are not going to share my view). It is very enjoyable, and often hilarious, yet it runs a bit too long and relies a bit too heavily on fan service. I have nothing against fan service, Endgame is very apparently a film made by fans for fans. However, the entirety of the second act feels too much like a piece of fan-fiction. It is definitely fun to watch, but it is executed rather too carelessly.

The last act, however, made all the wait worth it, and dwarfs all the shortcomings of the film. Hours after finishing Endgame, there are still no words that can adequately encapsulate the shock and beauty of the third act. It completely demolishes and obliterates the meaning of “awesome”. It was beyond anyone’s expectation. No one asked for it, yet the Russo Brothers delivered nonetheless. Word of advice: go and watch Endgame on the biggest screen you can find (if you haven’t already), it will be worth it.

The performances are stellar across the entire cast, from the irreverent but hilarious portrayal of Thor by Chris Hemsworth, to Jeremy Renner’s Ronin hellbent on rediscovering his purpose in a post-Snap world. Josh Brolin’s Thanos is slightly more unhinged, and even more dangerous this time around. However, the absolute standouts must be Chris Evans as Steve Rogers, and Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. After reprising their roles nearly ten times each, these two actors effortlessly and confidently carry the film with wit, strength and heart. Infinity War might be better paced and structured than its sequel, but Endgame finds our heroes at their most human and most vulnerable, and proves to be the most emotionally powerful MCU film to date.

Despite infrequent flaws, Avengers: Endgame is a thrilling, epic and very emotional conclusion to an 11-year journey, and a bountiful reward for fans who have stayed with these characters every step of the way. With the latest entry, the MCU shall stand in history as one of the most ambitious and successful cinematic experiments ever conducted. The many passionate people that spent countless hours crafting this film must be recognised with gratitude and respect for providing us a truly once-in-a-lifetime cinematic experience.

- 4 stars