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'Avengers: Endgame' Brings Marvel Saga To Close With Epic Three-Hour Film


The Marvel epic "Avengers: Endgame" opens tonight, and it's a safe bet that box office records will fall by the end of the weekend. It's also a safe bet that fans don't want to know too much about the movie before they see it. Our critic Bob Mondello says he can deal with that.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: You may recall that quite a few Avengers were turned to dust in the last movie, "Infinity War," along with roughly half the universe. If you don't recall, "Endgame's" first scene will remind you and will set an appropriately mournful tone for much of what follows. Even those who survived are hardly in a good place...


ROBERT DOWNEY JR: (As Iron Man) This thing on?

MONDELLO: ...Tony Stark's Iron Man, for instance.


DOWNEY JR: (As Iron Man) Hey, Ms. Potts. If you find this recording, just for the record, being adrift in space with zero promise of rescue is more fun than it sounds. Food and water ran out four days ago. Oxygen will run out tomorrow morning. That'll be it. When I drift off, I will dream about you.

MONDELLO: The other surviving Avengers, including Captain Marvel, who wasn't around for what I've been calling the big dust-up, are dreaming about bad guy Thanos and that infinity stone-bedazzled glove of his.


MARK RUFFALO: (As The Hulk) Look; he's still got the stones, so...

BRIE LARSON: (As Captain Marvel) So let's get him, use them to bring everyone back.

DON CHEADLE: (As War Machine) Just like that.

CHRIS EVANS: (As Captain America) Yeah, just like that.

SCARLETT JOHANSSON: (As Black Widow) Even if there's a small chance that we can undo this, I mean, we owe it to everyone who's not in this room to try.

RUFFALO: (As The Hulk) If we do this, how do we know it's going to end any differently than it did before?

LARSON: (As Captain Marvel) Because before you didn't have me.

CHEADLE: (As War Machine) Hey, new girl, everybody in this room is about that superhero life. And if you don't mind my asking, where the hell have you been all this time?

LARSON: (As Captain Marvel) There are a lot of other planets in the universe. But unfortunately they didn't have you guys.

MONDELLO: OK, that's diplomatic. But even with her onboard, things aren't going to go just like that, not in a three-hour finale. Our spandexed super-survivors need time for super-denial, super-anger, super-depression, all the stages of super-grief before they can start super-regrouping, which they will.


PAUL RUDD: (As Ant-Man) Hi. Is anyone home? This is Scott Lang. We met a few years ago at the airport in Germany. I got really big.

EVANS: (As Captain America) Is this an old message?

RUDD: (As Ant-Man) Ant-Man, Ant-Man - I know you know that.

JOHANSSON: (As Black Widow) It's the front door.

MONDELLO: If you're among the millions who've invested 40 some odd hours in this saga's 21 previous films, you likely have some notion as to what will go down in this one. Just know that no matter how much homework you've done, what actually happens, the order in which it happens and the folks to whom it happens will still pack surprises - also tongue-in-cheekiness and quite a bit of lump-in-throatiness. I saw "Endgame" with a theater full of critics, and the sniffles - my God, the sniffles - also the knowing chuckles and eventually the cheers when the big showdown arrives, as it inevitably must.


EVANS: (As Captain America) You know your teams. You know your missions. Look out for each other. This is the fight of our lives.

BRADLEY COOPER: (As Rocket) He's pretty good at that.

RUDD: (As Ant-Man) Right?

MONDELLO: Directors Joe and Anthony Russo are still adept at crowd control. I at least had the illusion that I could tell who was doing what to whom in digital confrontations so dense with warriors that the ones on the fringes can't be more than a couple of pixels each. The directors devote a few moments to glimpses of how the rest of the world has been dealing with the absence of half its population - one city going all gangster, another building memorial parks. Personally I'd have liked to see more of that. Maybe they're saving it for a four-hour director's cut.

But for the most part, the filmmakers have kept these cinematic "Endgame" intimate, letting the Avengers that fans know best deal with their families and put aside squabbles in the super-family they've created and give emotional closure to the family of fans that Marvel spent a decade turning the rest of the planet into - closure for the moment, that is. "Spider-Man: Far From Home" is just six weeks away.

I'm Bob Mondello Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Bob Mondello, who jokes that he was a jinx at the beginning of his critical career — hired to write for every small paper that ever folded in Washington, just as it was about to collapse — saw that jinx broken in 1984 when he came to NPR.
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