2019 was filled with era-defining blockbusters, emotionally compact dramas, and just about every other type of exciting feature in between. Many of these films were true gems, but others might’ve gotten a little lost in the shuffle of weekly big screen releases and an onslaught of new content championed by burgeoning streaming services. Despite all the chaos, 29 of our contributors were able to pinpoint their absolute favorite releases of the year.
We’re assembling some surprise guests to review Avengers: Endgame, starting with a spoiler-free discussion of the blockbuster event that’s already breaking box office records. Afterward, all of our spoiler hesitations disappear with a snap, and we have special guests Alisha Grauso and Matt Donato on deck to help us process basically everything this saga by Marvel has been building up to for over a decade.
Avengers: Endgame marks the end of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it. At least…until Spider-Man: Far From Home comes out in a few months. Regardless, there are 22 films in this sprawling quilt of franchises, and not all of them are made equal. In this bonus episode of Cinemaholics, I spend a grueling two hours with Sam Noland collaborating and debating a definitive ranking we can both put our names on.
The set up and payoff structure of the Marvel films beginning with Iron Man in 2008 may never be fully realized. These stories will continue on for as long as audiences continue to be fans of the material, so any definitive ending for a saga of episodic films requires a conclusion to at least one prominent idea, not necessarily an entire world of characters and their respective potential as branched franchises. This is why Avengers: Endgame is a film deftly committed to playing out the first and last revelation of such a film series. Tony Stark is Iron Man. And the Avengers are the Earth’s mightiest heroes. Everything else in Endgame is secondary, including its villain.
Keeping your emotions in check means maintaining a semblance of control. Don’t be hysterical, don’t lose your cool, don’t show your feelings or risk being called weak. This is what the titular Captain Marvel (played by Brie Larson) is struggling with when we first meet her training on the planet Hala, far from the Earth we know in more ways than one.