Contains spoilers, obviously
So, I know that back when I reviewed Black Panther, I said I was done talking about MCU movies, because I really had nothing to say about them due to the formulaic and unremarkable structure. Well, my folks apparently had other ideas, as I was dragged out to see Endgame and while I certainly don’t think it’s a good movie, it has given me a good deal to talk about, so I figured I would bother to actually give my opinions on this king of all mixed bags.
Rather than my usual structure, this time I’ll need to divide it into the things that I liked and the things that I didn’t like. Let’s try and give credit where credit is due and start off with what I liked, which conveniently starts with the opening scene. So, the opening scene is paced very well and has some genuine pathos as it shows just how devastating the snap was for people. I think it would’ve been more effective if it hadn’t been a key motivational moment for Hawkeye and instead just a demonstration of the toll taken on everyone by Thanos’ actions, but it is what it is. Compounding this are a few of the scenes that show the various characters handling the grieving process, such as Captain America at the support group. Speaking of which, Cap himself. Cards on the table, he is the one character that every movie has gotten absolutely right, and this time is no exception. I really can’t complain about anything he does, every bit of it is handled extremely well. The fight with his alternate self is really good, the scene where he gets one more look at the woman from the first movie through her window is genuinely powerful, the moment he takes up the hammer for the 1v1 with Thanos got the biggest rise of any moment from the audience, myself included, and the end of his arc was better than anyone could’ve expected from the movie. What else can I say, he’s Captain God Damn America and his character is thoroughly done justice in this movie, perhaps even more so than previous iterations. In general, the battle from the last act was also decent. The writing was fairly mediocre, but in terms of filmmaking, it was done pretty well, and conveyed the scale of everything excellently. And… that’s honestly about it. Now, on to the big things I disliked.
Big thing to address right out of the gate for things I didn’t like is Iron Man. My least favorite Marvel character is back, and doing nothing to improve my opinion of him. Up until now, the nadir of his appearances was Civil War, and while that was still his worst portrayal overall, this film arguably has the worst moment, which is early on when he starts blathering about how if his side had won in that movie, this whole situation wouldn’t have happened, and the way he whines about it is so far beyond irritating that it really drives me insane. His overall character doesn’t improve much throughout the movie either, which really blunts the effect that his death scene has at the end. Further blunting it is the same problem Batman vs Superman had with its take on the death of Superman, or at least, one of the many problems that movie had with it. In that movie, it was “give the spear to Wonder Woman”, but here it was “give the gauntlet to Nebula, or Captain Marvel, or Thor, or anyone else who could handle it, and just resurrect the guy, seeing how you already resurrected half the universe”, which honestly is an even worse version of this problem because not only is everyone an idiot in this version rather than just one character (who never was exactly characterized as a genius anyway), but also the thing they should’ve done was something they already did and repeatedly called attention to being able to do earlier in the movie. This is the point for me where it stops being a nitpick and becomes something that genuinely takes me out of the movie. Another issue I took was how underused and overhyped Captain Marvel was. The post-credit scene of Infinity War sets up her involvement, and she gets an entire movie to build hype for her appearance in this one, and in the end she’s almost completely extraneous. Aside from one moment where she destroys alt-universe Thanos’ base ship, something you could’ve written for another character to do, she adds nothing to the movie. She has a short appearance at the beginning which is completely unnecessary as the actual weight of the scene belongs to Thor, and also Thanos no longer had the Infinity Stones, half his body was shredded already, and he was generally just weaker than anyone on their own. Then she’s promptly dropped from the movie until she destroys that ship, then she squares off with alt universe Thanos for a moment but doesn’t even slow him down, so that could’ve easily been cut as well without anything being lost. It certainly doesn’t justify the year’s worth of hype she was given. So those are smaller issues, now we move into the bigger stuff. First among them, the excess of fanservice. This is the most subjective complaint, but a lot of the fanservice felt completely unnecessary and just got in the way of everything. Especially as a lot of the scenes felt like they were constructed based on what’s popular rather than what makes for the most impactful filmmaking. One big issue no doubt born from this is the time travel thing, it was a needlessly complicated aspect of the story that ultimately should not have been there. Granted, the story wouldn’t work without it, but what I’m saying is that they should’ve gone with a different story. There are some things done very well by the time travel plot, but on the whole I found it to be lacking. Then there’s the worst thing about the movie: It is painfully unfunny. And it tries, much to my horror. In the entire movie, I laughed only once, which was a minor chuckle when they were stealing the stone from past Quill, and they made a joke about how it sounded to him vs how it sounded to anyone else. But that’s mostly because it reminded me of a better movie. As for the other jokes, well, there sure are a lot of them, and none of them are good. And this brings me to the absolute nadir of the movie, the worst of the worst: that fucking meme humor. Ok, so, there are two scenes that are particularly egregious. First is a scene where Hulk is approached by 3 kids who want a photo with him, and the joke is that they don’t want a photo with Ant Man, then as they’re leaving, he dabs at them. My jaw hit the floor, and I could not believe they added that. And then it got worse. A little later on, they add a scene with Thor and his roommates playing Fortnite (seriously), and the joke is that one of them is insulted by some kid, and then Thor threatens to destroy their house with lightning. It was the most painfully unfunny thing I have ever seen in a movie, and that is one hell of an achievement. Failing at comedy truly is the worst thing, because at least failing at everything else has the potential to be unintentionally funny, but failing at comedy just makes a scene painful.
Those are the big ones in both categories, and I would definitely call this movie a mixed bag, more so than any I’ve ever seen. But ultimately the bad outweighs the good in my opinion, so my final rating for Avengers: Endgame is a C-, with a Whatever Floats Your Boat seal, because I know nothing I can tell you will make you decide to see it or not see it, this movie is so far above the grade where analysis can change minds that this is really just there to yell into an uncaring void. Huh.