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The words “most-anticipated movie of the year” get tossed around a few times every season, usually describing a beloved fan sequel or an Oscar hopeful riding a wave of good press.

After “Avengers: Endgame” we can retire those words until January 2020. Before it played on one public screen the follow-up to 2018’s “Avengers: Endgame” smashed records. Demand for tickets crashed AMC Theatres’ website and app, it became Fandango’s top-selling pre-sale title and in China, advance sales topped a record one million tickets in a matter of hours. Someone in the United States paid a staggering $15,000 on-line for a pair of tickets (I hope that includes popcorn) and box office prognosticators predict forecast a domestic debut in the $260 million range.

Most-anticipated indeed but the question remains, Does “Avengers: Endgame” deserve all the hype?

In the spirit of #DontSpoilTheEndgame I’m cribbing the synopsis of the movie from IMBD.com: “After the devastating events of Avengers: Infinity War (2018), the universe is in ruins. With the help of remaining allies, the Avengers assemble once more in order to undo Thanos’ actions and restore order to the universe.”

“Endgame” is, first and foremost, a fan service movie. From the sheer number of returning Marvel faves—characters number in the dozens, if not the low hundreds—too deep character backstory—superheroes have mommy and daddy issues too!—to the crew’s biggest world-saving mission to date, it indulges every aficionado’s story hopes and desires. It may leave the casual superhero fans feeling overwhelmed by the sheer weight of the film but people willing to line up for hours to see the movie on opening weekend will be rewarded for their patience.

It is epic in the terms of length—it’s three hours so get a snack—location—infinity and beyond!—but it feels like “a lot“ rather than epic.

The story begins on a minor chord, spending much time with the characters grappling with the loss of friends and family before finding a way to right the world-destroying wrongs of Thanos. There is humor, some action but mostly character work. Hulk is in a form we haven’t seen before, Rudd and Downey still have a way with the line and it’s a whole new Thor than any other movie. As the story hopscotches through time and space directors Anthony and Joe Russo keep the focus on the characters fans have come to love.

It’s in the third hour the movie loses its human touch, becoming a noisy CGI orgy that must’ve required the power of 1 million networked computers working overtime to render the frenetic images we see on screen.

As for who lives and who dies? (SPOILER ALERT WITH ABSOLUTELY NO REVEAL) You’ll get no hint here. Suffice to say one of the characters says, “part of the journey is the end,” and I can tell you there will be unsigned contracts and actors suddenly free to do other movies that do not require the wearing of spandex.

“Endgame” feels like the end of the old cycle, the beginning of a reset. Old favourites gone, passing the mantle to others before they go. We even see a poster that reads, “Where do we go, now that they’re all gone?” I’m sure the next several Avengers movies will point the way but it is worth noting there are no hints in the post-credit scene because there is no post-credit scene (at least at the screening I saw).

The film has a sense of self-importance that fans will love, giving the characters the respect that franchises owe characters who have made them billions of dollars.

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