Avengers Endgame Review
Posted by Batfleck Forever on
Let me just start off by saying that what producer Kevin Feige and the directors over there at Marvel Studios (especially the Russo Bros) have accomplished over these 22 films is a monumental achievement in franchise film making and they deserve all the praise for it. Having a vision of this many interconnected films and building up to a crossover event as massive as the Infinity Saga was uncharted territory in Hollywood and it largely worked because of the respect the studio showed to the characters and the audience, tweaking things sensibly to correct some missteps along the way, but ultimately sticking to their plan and seeing it through. A lot of other studios would be wise to learn from this, and as someone who is more of a DC fan I wish the same amount of care was shown to DC films.
Now, onto the Endgame review…
Beyond all else, the primary goal of Avengers: Endgame was to provide a satisfying conclusion to 22 films worth of storytelling. So let me start off right there. The movie absolutely succeeds in this goal. If you’ve put in the work to follow all of these films to this point – you will not walk out of the theater disappointed.
Going in, I think we all figured the movie would involve the heroes trying to undo the Snap and that there would be a final confrontation with Thanos at the end. What really mattered was how it all played out and whether the results felt right.
The opening scene was a great mood setter to pull us right back into things and I did not expect Thanos to use the Gauntlet to destroy the stones themselves. That was a nice twist because in that moment it robs the heroes of any obvious way to reverse things. All they can do is kill Thanos in pure vengeance like Thor does.
Then we flash forward 5 years where some have moved on (Iron Man), and others haven’t (Capt., Black Widow). I actually would have loved to see more of this period to see how the heroes and world dealt with the Snappening, but soon after a certain shrinky boi appears with a crazy idea for time travel and we find ourselves in a time heist movie to go into the past and retrieve the Infinity Stones before they were destroyed.
From there, pretty much everything fans have been waiting to see happen or resolved is delivered in spades. It even goes above and beyond and includes unexpected callbacks to past films that are really surprising and reward viewers who have paid close attention to each and every one of these films. The fact that they’ve held off on certain things to finally deliver them here was a masterstroke in execution. It felt like the Russo’s went out of their way to check every box and make sure every thing fans could possibly want to see in this closing chapter was covered. In that regard, you could call call Avengers: Endgame a great and satisfying conclusion to the Infinity Saga and leave it at that. However, if we were to put the film under a more critical microscope we would find flaws, much more than there were in Infinity War, which I liked better, and here’s why:
While Endgame absolutely closes things on a satisfying note it’s all so neatly tied up with a bow that honestly it’s to a fault. It was like you could see the strings of the puppet masters and how they were maneuvering characters and structuring the plot to achieve the moments and ending they wanted, rather than having those things come about naturally in an organic way. This makes things rather predictable, and indeed, I’ve never called more things ahead of time in a movie more than I did on this one. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing though. While I may have done some things differently, I don’t think they could have drastically changed things for the better. It’s just that sometimes a story can be more dramatically compelling when things don’t go how we want, which was the case in Infinity War.
One issue in the handling of the story is the revelation that the Quantum Realm can be used for time travel. This opens up a whole can of worms as time travel almost always does. There are the usual paradoxes – like how changing past events would have already been reflected in the present OR would have prevented the thing that made you want to travel back in the first place – but larger problems as well – like creating duplicate versions of characters, branching timelines, and permanently altering important historical events as we know it. The movie tries to make up its own rules on this, but I’m sure if held to scrutiny the time travel in this movie actually creates more problems than it solves, but hey, Iron Man got to talk to his Dad and the Thor got to talk with his Mom, so who cares right?
When we finally get to the grand battle with every MCU character on screen it’s certainly an impressive moment, but not as impactful as you might expect. With so many characters on screen and so much to juggle at once, the sequence isn’t nearly as well choreographed as it needed to be and as a result it teeters on stimulus overload. It’s sort of proof that you CAN have too much of a good thing. I’d argue that the smaller scale sequences in Avengers 1, Civil War, and Infinity War, were greater because they were clearer, more organized, and paced out better. As it stands, The Lord of the Rings trilogy remains the gold standard for how to handle a gigantic climax with endless amounts of characters on screen while never losing sight of the goals and emotional stakes involved.
Because Endgame is an MCU film it also has some characteristics that have become the hallmarks of MCU films. One of these characteristics is an overall lighthearted and jokey tone. We’re talking long awkward pauses to allow punchlines to land and questionable if not downright irrational character decisions made for whimsical reasons. This has worked in some movies better than others. In the case of Infinity War, it felt like they dialed things back in service to the more serious plot, but in Endgame, it actually seemed dialed up again, even though the stakes are higher than they’ve ever been and the fate of the entire universe is in jeopardy. It’s one of the main reasons I’ve never been that into Marvel movies because I prefer my superhero movies to be dramas rather than comedy’s, but hey, that’s Marvel’s bread and butter and it has worked astonishingly well for them so I guess complaining about it now is kind of pointless. Needless to say, if you thought that Endgame was going to be the most serious and gritty MCU movie to date you are mistaken. It’s probably one of the least.
Some of these silly moments are small things, like Ant-Man being freed from the Quantum Realm by a rat walking over the machines controls, or Iron Man just magically inventing time travel because the plot demands it, or Captain America admiring his own ass, but the most egregious example is what they do to Thor which borders on outright character assassination. Devastated by failure, Thor has retreated into solitude, but when when the team seeks him out we discover he’s become a disheveled drunk with a fat beer belly who eats junk while playing Fortnite all day. It would have been alright as a brief joke before switching back to his usual self but they run with this gag for the entire movie. Even in the final confrontation with Thanos where Thor calls down the lightning and gets a powerup, he ends up looking even more ridiculous with a goofy wig that reminded me of Luke Hemsworth’s parody version of Thor from Thor: Ragnarok. To make matters worse, Thor vacates his kingship and gives it to Valkyrie, which is a huge disservice to the character and completely sets him back from the development in Ragnarok where he finally assumes the throne and becomes the leader to his people. It seems like in these last 2 movies the writers felt a need to deliberately hamstring the most powerful Avengers for some reason. It was done with the Hulk in Infinity War when he couldn’t transform into Hulk, and it seems the same was done here with Thor. Honestly, I feel sorry for Chris Hemsworth. I guess at least he got to have some badass moments in the previous film.
I did have some other nitpicks. I personally felt Gamora and especially Nebula should have played a larger role in Thanos’s downfall – as I believe they do in the comics, and the part where all the female Avengers just happened to come together for the girl power moment had me rolling my eyes, but the Russo’s and team get enough things right that you can easily look past the flaws. Just don’t ever try and say this is the best comic book film or even the best Marvel film. BvS holds that first title, and Infinity War holds the second.
Avengers Endgame is a completely satisfying conclusion to the 22 films of the Infinity Saga and a monumental achievement in cinematic universe storytelling.