Clamon

Well, this is it. After 11 years of build-up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that spans 21 films dating back to 2008, it was time for the final showdown against Thanos this past week as “Avengers: Endgame” arrived in theaters after a year of hype.

While “Endgame” is the end of the Infinity Stone/Avengers saga, the upcoming “Spider-Man: Far From Home” will be the closer for the MCU's Phase Three.

But what many of us knew going in was that this was likely the last go-around for some of the franchise's mainstays such as Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man and Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America, because a number of actors' contracts with Marvel are expiring.

“Endgame” happens sometime after the devastating events of “Infinity War,” when the Mad Titan, after successfully retrieving all six of the infinity stones, snapped his fingers with the infinity gauntlet and wiped out half of all life in the universe.

Many fans and moviegoers are still shocked after witnessing many of our favorite heroes turned to dust. It was a big list of those who suffered, including Spider-Man, Star-Lord, Doctor Strange, Groot, Black Panther, Bucky, Falcon, Shuri, Scarlet Witch, Mantis and Drax. There were even some pre-Snap deaths, such as Loki, Gamora, Vision and Heimdall.

The latest MCU entry and the fourth Avengers movie focuses on the heroes who survived the snap and must figure out a way to bring the universe back to the way it was and their departed friends back from the dead.

After being contacted by S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury just before he bit the dust, Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel, officially joins the living heroes in their quest to bring Thanos down once and for all a quarter-century since the events of her solo film, which opened in March and happened in 1995 during an intergalactic war between the Kree and Skrull.

Ex-convict Scott Lang, better known as Ant-Man, also joins the fray after being absent for Infinity War, in which he was trapped in the quantum realm during an experiment because Hank Pym, along with his wife, Janet Van Dyne, and their daughter, Hope, were dusted.

Lastly, Clint Barton, aka the master marksman Hawkeye, was living in retirement with his family following “Captain America: Civil War.” Now, after witnessing his family's demise, Barton springs back into action.

“Infinity War” was a fantastic chapter of the MCU. But “Endgame” practically did everything better.

Josh Brolin continues his phenomenal performance as Thanos, who succeeded in his journey to bring a proper balance to the universe and live out in retirement as a farmer.

“Avengers: Endgame” is everything you could possibly have wanted in a Marvel movie and it ultimately pays off with a great tribute to all the characters we have come to know and love for over a decade.

The 22nd film in the franchise was a perfect farewell to many characters while it set up adventures to others.

“Spider-Man: Far From Home” swings into theaters in July, but the MCU is not even close to being finished with many movies still being planned and new characters are going to join the universe.

Following Disney's acquisition of 20th Century Fox, Marvel officially regained the rights to the X-Men, the Fantastic Four and Deadpool. Marvel Studios is in development of some spin-off series to air on Disney Plus, the new streaming service that launches in November.

After having the biggest box-office opening weekend ever, crossing $1 billion worldwide, it's easy to see why “Avengers: Endgame” is the conclusion that we have all waited for.

Blaine Clamon is sports reporter at the Athens Daily Review.