‘Avengers: Endgame’ is long and overstuffed, but always enjoyable

I wrote a parents guide on “Avengers: Endgame” for The Buffalo News and also had the chance to interview screenwriter Christopher Markus. Here’s a brief review.

Let’s just get this out of the way: “Avengers: Endgame” is long. Really, really long. But if you are a parent whose children who love the Marvel Cinematic Universe, play with Marvel Legos, and wear Marvel PJs to bed, you have no choice but to just deal with the three-hour running time.

And when the credits finally roll on this absurdly stuffed, tremendously enjoyable, surprisingly weird superhero epic, chances are your entire family will feel satisfied. “Avengers: Endgame” is a fitting culmination of the earlier 21 films of the MCU. My son’s instant review was that it’s “the greatest movie ever made,” and while that’s a tad hyperbolic, “Endgame” is certainly a winner.  

In “Endgame,” the world is struggling to regroup after the all-conquering purple behemoth known as Thanos has wiped out half the population. Still mourning their fallen comrades, surviving heroes like Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow and War Machine must find a way to bring back their friends and change history.

All of the action is on par with the previous Marvel entries, specifically “Infinity War.” What will be upsetting here are two notable character deaths. No spoilers here, but these are a couple of biggies.

My son was particularly broken up over a key, late-film casualty. And the sounds of sniffles around us signified that he was not alone in his upset. (I must have had something in my eye …). He was also rather upset over the weight gain of a major character. It’s played for laughs, and I found it hilarious, but some kiddos might be horrified — or see a bit of dad in the character’s paunch.  

Speaking of kiddos, here’s an important question: Are there some obvious bathroom breaks? This is probably the No. 1 question for parents — they already know what to expect in terms of violence and language — and the answer is rather simple. Hit the bathroom as often as needed in the first two hours. But make sure to be seated for the final stretch, a gobsmacking bit of fan service that is nearly impossible to dislike. The kids at the screening we attended were practically levitating with enthusiasm, and any thoughts of using the restrooms surely evaporated.

There are many elements of “Endgame” that will soar over the heads of little ones with the ease of Captain Marvel. (Yes, Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers is here, and stupendous.) Examples would certainly qualify as spoilers, so just trust me when I say kids are going to have plot questions afterward.

“Avengers: Endgame” is surprisingly self-aware of its status as a blockbuster to end all blockbusters. And while that won’t matter to younger viewers, it’s likely to add to an adult’s enjoyment of the insanity. Let’s all applaud directors Anthony and Joe Russo, as well as screenwriters Christopher Markus — a Buffalo native — and Stephen McFeely for crafting a bold, smart, always entertaining epic that nicely balances character and action.

Yes, it’s long, but it’s rare to find a three-hour film that moves with the velocity of “Endgame.” The hardest part will be finding another block of time in which to take the kids again.