Avengers: Endgame

Avengers: Endgame ★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Imagine if you woke up one day and half of your friends and family were suddenly 5 years older and severely more depressed than ever before, and that's the happy ending.

I think it's awful that they cause this massive tragedy, then half the population of the whole universe skips 5 years into a dystopian future, and that's the new status quo across the universe. Couldn’t they use the gauntlet to move everyone back 5 years in time, then redo Infinity War and reset everything? I don't see how that's beyond the powers of it, and there had to be so many better alternatives. The Avengers are not good heroes, and even in their undoing they still can't do it just right. They always do the best they can do. But almost every Avengers movie features them being monumentally bad heroes, and this is no exception.

And that's not even to mention how they just caused an Ender's Game-style genocide of another timeline's inhabitants. Talk about irresponsible. What if Tony had sent all the alien goons through time and space, back to where they came from? What if he trapped them in an alternate reality? What if, what if, what if. So many alternatives better than genocide.

On rewatch I was considering this as a genre film and how it operates within the usual confines of what the pattern of a typical superhero movie would be. So in that case I elected to give it 4 stars, although it would have been 4.5 if they balanced the pacing and editing better between the three sections. It's incredible what this movie does as a superhero movie. Absolutely, absolutely revolutionary for the genre, in an infinite number of ways. But as a film itself, I think it stands at maybe a 3.7: poignant but messy. As far as awesome fan moments go, it's definitely top notch, and that can't be said enough. But ultimately it feels like three interesting, but disconnected, movies that jarringly transition into each other, each part ending up under-served. I definitely enjoyed the first two parts better than the big battle, but that’s mostly excusable because this is still a genre film.

In my opinion, asking a Marvel Studios film to skip a big battle is as silly as asking a Shaw Bros film to skip its big battle - it's just the genre and the brand. Yet excellent exceptions are always possible within the form of any genre. Whether bombastic or intimate, I always go into these movies hoping for a final battle charged with personal stakes. Homecoming is probably the closest thing we’ve gotten recently, and that’s probably why it’s ranked #1 on my MCU list.

Speaking of emotional stakes, the mourning emotions are forced in this film, but sadly never connected for me on either watch. I actually really liked the first two parts of the movie, but I felt they were a bit shortchanged and lacked cohesion between the main acts. I liked what they tried to do, I just don’t think they reached the full potential for those scenes. The pacing and editing go through the motions but nothing feels impactful.

I'm glad about Black Widow’s death, because I think this is the easiest way to build interest in a solo movie 10 years after her introduction. I fully expected it to be Hawkeye, but in retrospect, this whole thing is framed as a Hawkeye movie. So I'm actually glad they let him live and get his redemption and happy ending.

One neat thing that about Old Cap is that he could always be de-aged by recreating the prototype time machine. They're basically on the verge of age control, and now even Hank Pym is back! At the very least, I think it would be cool to occasionally consult Old Cap like a grandfatherly Yoda figure. On a different note, his return at the end is the only issue with the internal logic. It's possibly explainable because in Cap’s new timeline, anything could have happened differently. Maybe they developed a way to jump between alternate timelines. It’s a whole alternate history to explore. I sincerely think he never returned the stones or Mjölnir: he kept them and went straight to Peggy. (What a crazy OP Captain America!) But sincerely, how could the Reality Stone return into the Aether in Jane? And the Space Stone back into the Tesseract? The Mind Stone into the scepter? Plus imagine Cap coming to Vormir and his reaction to seeing Red Skull there. How do you even give back something like the Soul Stone? Etc.

Did anyone notice that when Rhodey leaves Morag and Nebula is forced to stay, that she runs to their escape pod? She sends an emergency signal, which no one ever receives. But also this means they were planning to leave without their own vehicle, and leave it behind forever. The writers obviously left the pod so she can send the message, but what's the point if the message isn't ever received? Just cut that whole scene out. Leaving it in hurts the logic much more than it helps. Also not really related, but where the hell was Wong?! Dude can do anything yet he does nothing.

But speaking of logic, I think it's super clever how they incapacitated Hulk for the future movies. Very practical, and very efficient. I'm disappointed we never have any scenes with him being a genius fighter. The only time he really takes advantage of his Hulk form is the snap; I don't think we even saw where he was hiding during the huge final battle.

In my first watch I thought Thor was a bad gag that went on too long, and kept me from taking him seriously. However, on the rewatch it was actually fine. Sure it messes up his awesome Infinity War development, but it makes sense because he had such a monumental failure. As long as he's worthy, Thor would never be able to ignore that kind of burden. I do think they went a bit far with the comedy of the costume and hair. After talking to his mom, I wish he had cleaned up with some kind of physical change, but even in his final scene with Valkyrie he looks the same.

Especially for a Russos movie, the large scale action is actually really good. Yeah it's still full of Hobbity gray CGI blob monsters, but there's a clear story being told with the camerawork and choreography, and there's an actual sense of space and location for most of the important people and objects flying around everywhere. They did a phenomenal job handling the scale of the chaos, even if it was never particularly innovative.

Alright so that's about it for my thoughts, after 72 hours of thought and two watches. I still enjoyed all the movie callbacks, even though they’re like 50% of the script. I loved the film itself a lot more on rewatch, and the time logic entirely holds up. They're operating with very convenient rules that defy the logic of every time travel movie, ever... But they make their rules and they stick to them (until the Cap ending).

I think the story logic holds up completely but it needs to be thought about and digested slowly. Sometimes intentionally and sometimes not, they leave a lot of things messy and ambiguous, and it can quickly sour upon reflection.

Infinity War is very cohesive, but it's basically Dunkirk: a third act of a larger story that escalates nonstop until credits. In contrast, Endgame is so clearly 3 acts that they almost don't even feel like the same movie.

After this, I'm solidly burned out and exhausted with these movies. In 30 years, I wonder which ones will still be relevant? I can't imagine someone would be interested in watching 18 movies just to get to the Snap, which is basically the "I Am Your Father" moment of the franchise.

But back to Endgame: Yes, it's a bit overwhelming, yes it's disjointed, but dammit the ending is so good I can't help but want to love it.

"See you in a minute." - Black Widow

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