First (spoiler-free) reviews of Avengers: Endgame praise it as a classic MCU epic

There's just shy of 15 hours left before you can clap your eyes on Avengers: Endgame, the 22nd movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). 

Continuing where last year's Avengers: Infinity War left off, the movie is set to resolve the gargantuan tapestry of Marvel characters and storylines. Speculation is raging as to whether this is the last time we'll see veterans like Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Captain America (Chris Evans) on the big screen.

Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man on Avengers: Endgame poster

The reviews embargo has officially lifted and the movie stands at an impressive 96% on Rotten Tomatoes. We've rounded up a sampling of spoiler-free reviews, beginning with this from The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw who graces the movie with a five star appraisal.

"Well, I won’t disclose how things progress here, other than to say it allows the main players to revisit some of the scenes of their most spectacular franchise triumphs," raves Bradshaw. "And I have to admit, in all its surreal grandiosity, in all its delirious absurdity, there is a huge sugar rush of excitement to this mighty finale, finally interchanging with euphoric emotion and allowing us to say poignant farewells."

"After nearly two and a half hours of hardcore comic-book entertainment — alternating earnest storytelling with self-deprecating zingers designed to show that Marvel doesn’t take itself too seriously — Endgame wraps all that logic-bending nonsense with a series of powerful emotional scenes," writes Peter Debruge in Variety. "Whereas all the casualties suffered at the end of Infinity War felt suspiciously like a gimmick that would be undone in this film, these meaty character moments illustrate the spirit of personal sacrifice certain individuals consciously make on behalf of the team, and the universe at large."

's Helen O'Hara describes the movie as "A victory lap that moonwalks through the best part of the MCU back catalogue and emphasises emotion as much as action, this is an intensely satisfying piece of blockbuster filmmaking". She adds: "We get a steady stream returning characters – and not just heroes – that ensure your interest never has a chance to wane: the cast of this film is a indie director’s fever dream, an embarrassment of riches that is well invested at key moments."

Writing for The Hollywood Reporter, Todd McCarthy reserves praise for one particular cast member: "Whereas Downey's fast-talking quips and occasional rudeness became increasingly callow and off-putting in his Iron Man outings, Tony Stark in this movie, at last, seems more human and dimensional. Thor and Captain America are experiencing identity issues. And the most unexpected comic relief may come from Mark Ruffalo's Bruce Banner, a very large man with a greenish-gray hue to his skin who dwarfs everyone around him and is often called upon to do the real dirty work due to his size. Perhaps most notably in the moments when this veteran superhero is reassessing his powers, Ruffalo's highly amusing performance reveals a frank and unusual awareness of his character's acceptance of self in an action-spectacle context."

"Somehow, some way, Marvel did what nobody else could and successfully adapted the sprawling, overlapping world of comic-book superheroes to screen," writes Huw Fullerton in Radio Times. "Once, it would have seemed impossible. I was sitting near a 14-year-old fan during the Endgame screening, and I couldn’t imagine how I would have reacted as a teenage comic-book fan to this vibrant, bizarre world coming to life in front of me."

And Time Out's Joshua Rothkopf says the movie lives up to its billing as the colossal culmination of 11 years worth of franchise building. "Arriving with the momentum that only 21 previous global blockbusters can provide, Avengers: Endgame is the multiplex-rattling and curiously emotional culmination of the Marvel Cinematic Universe—at least until the next chapter," he says. "You know it’s going to be long (three hours, but there’s no need to sit out the end credits this time); you know it’s going to be high-level homework for even the most advanced fan. But what you don’t know is how deeply invested you may be in these 11 years of movies, a compendium of destruction and heroism that altered our culture but also reflected it, sometimes weightlessly, at other times grandly. ‘Endgame’ often pays tribute to itself, which makes it as fascinating as it is self-serious. It taps into a live wire of doomy tragedy and phoenix-like rebirth that comics do so well."

Click here to book your tickets for Avengers: Endgame, opening at midnight on Thursday 25th April. Can't get enough of the MCU? Book your tickets for the Cineworld Avengers: Infinity War & Endgame double-bill screenings.