‘Avengers: Endgame’ feels like the last blockbuster ever

It may not be surprising given their significant degree of directorial work on the show, but Joe and Anthony Russo’s Avengers: Endgame really feels like a big-budget episode of Community, the seminal NBC sitcom.

And it’s not just the cameos from two of that show’s cast members, after the Russo snuck Danny Pudi and Jim Rash into the last two Captain America movies. It’s the film’s very distinct vibe: a preposterous and impossibly detail-rich fantasy with an intense workplace comedy sensibility.

Ignore the melodramatic, “This Is The End” marketing campaign: Endgame doesn’t shift into sad dark gear until its final act. This is a silly, charming ensemble comedy; both cerebral and grandiose and a film operating at such a high level of crowd-pleasing eagerness that one almost expects free candy to come pouring out of the screen.

To review Endgame is a talk that requires disclosing details of its plot, miraculously kept quiet throughout the advertising for the film, so read no further if you want to walk in cold. The Avengers who were left behind after a Leftovers-style rapture — the work of galactic megalomaniac Thanos — pursue a time travel mission to previous MCU movie scenes in order to retrieve the Infinity Stones, a task they obviously screwed up majorly in all of those previous movies.

And it’s a fabulous folly. Mark Ruffalo and Paul Rudd get to be incredibly funny. Chris Evans get to be wistful. Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner get to be the most interesting pair of friends this franchise has produced. And even when it all goes a little Ready Player One in the final battle sequence, a cacophony of toilet-ugly visuals, there’s a madness and mayhem to the composition and sheer size of the cast that’s infectiously enjoyable.

I watched this film at midnight, it wrapped up after 2am, yet I haven’t felt less exhausted by an MCU movie in quite a long time. It’s safe to say I will never watch another one of these in the cinema. I don’t need to. I was, shockingly, beyond all my expectations, provided with something genuinely conclusive by the franchise that has so excelled in never, ever providing satisfying conclusions.