ET's spoiler-free reaction to the end of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it.
"We're in the endgame now," the master of the mythic arts, Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), announced following one of the climactic battles in Avengers: Infinity War, after he'd turned the Time Stone over to Thanos (Josh Brolin) and thus, allowed the Mad Titan to complete his gauntlet, snap his purple fingers and disappear half of all life in the universe.
Before that prescient line, the good doctor looked into the future to 14,000,605 possible outcomes, only one of which the good guys would win. With Strange turned to dust, along with half of the Earth and galaxy at large's mightiest heroes, it's up to the surviving Avengers to, well, avenge.
If any of the above is fuzzy for you, then Avengers: Endgame might not be the movie for you. Most installments in Marvel's sprawling cinematic universe can be enjoyed on three levels: as a standalone experience, as a piece within the ongoing MCU puzzle, and as an adaptation with roots into the comic book mythology from which it came. Still, it's hard to imagine Endgame appealing to the more casual fans.
That's because as the original Avengers -- Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) -- set out with allies old and new (Brie Larson's Captain Marvel) to undo what's been done, Endgame both leans into and expands upon the 21 films that came before it, paying off threads from any number of franchises over the last 11 years.
"Epic" is a word that gets bandied about a lot when reviewing Marvel movies -- I'm no exception -- but this is an epic in the truest sense: The scope is of biblical proportions, bigger than Civil War or Infinity War or any of the films without war in the title. Every scene feels important, with a heft of gravitas that never weighs the film down but instead rewards an investment made back in 2008, as fans sat down in Iron Man for the first time. (It can't be understated how big an accomplishment it is that Endgame was made at all.)
I'm being vague, and purposely so, because I hope your first viewing remains as unspoiled as mine, full of moments that are unexpected in big and small ways and fan-service as gob-smacking as it is earned. Finally watching Avengers: Endgame is overwhelming, more than anything -- I was practically levitating out of my seat and many of the noises I made can only be described as "indescribable" -- but three hours and one minute later, I'm ready to experience it again and truly let this ending sink in.