Endgame Is The Correct Name For This
A love letter to a movie franchise that’s shaken the world, Avengers: Endgame is something that’s been built to for so long that it’s almost too hot to touch.
By doing this, I’m not just reviewing this one movie; I’m reviewing the entirety of the franchise. Endgame is not just the sum of its parts, it’s a million things to a million people.
This movie is a passing of the guard.
This is the beginning of a new movie era, and only because they just ended the last one purposely.
Upfront: this is a spoiler-heavy review. There’s no way to talk about Endgame in detail without hinting at things. There’s no way to talk about the negative, too, without revealing plot information. And I do have some negativity to voice, because, sad to say, while this movie is a culmination, it’s also a stand-alone film, and, as one, it’s got a bit of an issue.
Endgame Refuses To Be Emotionally Consistent
It’s an issue that’s also a byproduct of its connections and how many different plots it needs to balance. My main criticism is the movie is a tonal mess. Two movies in one—with a pretty drastic dividing moment.
A couple of minutes into the battle of New York is the spot. Before then, the movie is a comedy, that sometimes breaks for the seriously bleak. Like, I get that this film is for kids and that they cannot and should not do something soul destroying when young people are likely in the audience. After all, half of all living creatures died—there’s no way to make that cheery. But simply ignoring it for sometimes not even great comedy is not the way to do it. The scenes with Hulk, while occasionally amusing, were a little too lighthearted. But that’s nothing compared to the problems with the scenes involving Thor.
Endgame Manages To Botch An Entire Character
I know he’s being essentially “plot-groomed” to be a Guardian of the Galaxy, so he needs to be a more comedic character now—but they stretch it out for so long. The movie is unwieldy because of these scenes. I’m not saying this big of a moment in movie history doesn’t deserve a lengthy, epic story to send it off, but it also could have had better stuff there to fill that time. Thor reduced to what he was is frankly an insult to his character—and I’m aware of the trauma that he went through and what that would do to a person.
It still shatters the tone and is distractingly goofy.
But, the fact that’s there, and it still doesn’t nosedive the credibility of the narrative is a testament to how good the movie becomes later. Endgame picks itself up and runs a marathon through amazing scenes of emotion, of action, of better comedy, and of the kind of fan service that’s, yes, necessary, for all the fans who have been here from the beginning.
Cheesy? Yes. But Endgame Viewers Deserve This
It may feel like a gimmick at times, them getting the Infinity Stones by revisiting spots through the Marvel storyline, but they do so much excellent work with Tony’s emotional journey, and with Captain America’s entire essence, and the scene with Hawkeye and Black Widow and the Soul Stone is truly amazing. These payoffs for the characters are wonderful and deserved. I can’t complain about contrivances—it’s too good of emotional storytelling.
But that was only the ramp up to what turned out to be one of the most satisfying few minutes in cinematic history. I literally could not contain my glee when all the characters teleported onto the battlefield. Never has the line “Avengers…assemble,” held so much weight and power. Chris Evans masters this scene. Captain America’s desperation, but his hope, and his sheer anger at Thanos for all he did comes across in a scene that has, to top it off, a few frames of visual art not unlike a painting of angelic war from the Renaissance.
Endgame Is Arguably “Cap’s” Movies Above All
Even if it was cheesy, even if objectively what’s going on shouldn’t feel serious due to the inherent goofiness of the genre, there were so many small moments during that mass battle that I want to see it again and again. Sure, it’s wildly hard to believe that every single person survived that blast by Thanos at the opening—I think killing a character there would have been a tension gut punch—but still, having them all come out to fight puts perhaps even the airport battle in Civil War to shame, and completely outstrips a similar scene in Ready Player One that some might draw as a comparison.
As a personal note, in this job of being a movie critic, it’s sometimes hard to get excited about movies and shows. I’ve seen so many stories, so many plots. Humor for a broad audience isn’t going to bite or even maybe work, I’ve heard those jokes, basically, before.
But this movie still got through to me.
Endgame Has Scenes Of Transcendent Spectacle
Even if you think it’s too corporate, this final movie, this franchise, it’s still doing something with long-form storytelling that’s beyond anything else out right now. It’s doing character work across a staggering amount of films.
I don’t want to be cynical about that.
Marvel movies are truly the appeal of comics taken and given the biggest budget there is. And every actor who stayed with the franchise this long has given life to these characters to the point I can’t imagine any other soul playing them.
The next generation of human beings will grow up with these characters, these examples. Across all races, genders, and ages, these superheroes are inspiring, I hope, for anyone, for everyone.
Endgame Is Striving For Something Important
Self-sacrifice, empathy, innovation, courage, and a simple refusal to stand for injustice and bullies and criminals and monsters, both human and like Thanos—these are worthwhile tenants to show in a fictional person. Captain America is inspiring and exemplary in a way that’s more than one culture, continent, country. It may be for a general audience, but Avengers: End Game is something to everyone who watches movies and cares about the medium.
And, though it’s never going to top the first Avengers film in stand-alone quality, it doesn’t have to—that’s not the point.
This is the ending of Harry Potter.
This is the end of the original Star Wars trilogy.
And they made a movie worthy of being that cultural moment for 2019.
And, though I’m grateful for what we’ve already gotten, I hope the next era is something, somehow, even better.
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