Avengers: Endgame - Review
It is a rare feat when a movie turns into an event before it is even released. It is even rarer for that movie to be filled with fan service from beginning to end and still be mostly satisfying. Avengers: Endgame does just that. It wraps up 11 years of storytellng, and still secures the franchises future for many years to come. There are some vague spoilers throughout, and while I appreciate your click, I urge you to NOT read this until after you've seen the movie.
Endgame offers just about every emotion in the book. It is the most hilarious tragedy I've ever watched. The signature humor that Marvel is known for is present in nearly every scene. But they do not sacrifice emotion for the sake of a joke. The emotion is rampant through the entire film. You can feel how high the stakes are. You can feel the how important this journey is. The Russos laid out a very complex and technical tale as best they could.
Fan service is used as a derogatory term to negatively critique a film sometimes. In reality, every sequel ever is fan service. The first of something tells a complete story. Anything after that is just giving the fans what they want. So to make a blanket statement about fan service being a negative is flawed. It most certainly can be, but only when they sacrifice story beats for the sake of a moment. Endgame did not do this. While the story did get a bit convoluted in places, and have some moments that don't hold up to even sci-fi logic, those issues were not caused by "fan service" moments in the film.
The character work done here is stunning, and that is the anchor that makes Avengers: Endgame such a great flick. They aren't just paying off seeds from Avengers: Infinity War, they are paying off things from several movies. Most of the meat of the story comes from things set up in: Iron Man, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The First Avenger, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Avengers, and Guardians Of The Galaxy.
The big 3: Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor went on the biggest journeys. 2 of them ended about how I expected. Thor's was the surprising arc, and the movies brilliance was taking one of the weakest MCU entries like Thor: The Dark World and making it relevant. That film will be viewed through a different prism next time it is watched by Marvel fans. That movie allows one of the sweetest moments in the entire flick.
Tony Stark's journey was wholly satisfying as well. He couldn't have received a better story. They paid off everything left dangling from Iron Man 2 and Iron Man 3, and cemented Robert Downey Jr as the Godfather of the MCU. His story had to end exactly how it did, and while some people were probably expecting it, it still had the emotional resonance to hit you right in the heart.
Steve Rogers also had a journey with an incredibly satisfying payoff. Endgame has like 34 wrap up scenes at the end of it. But the last frame of the movie ends on something Captain America fans have been waiting for since 2011. I don't know if the Russos toyed with any of the other epilogues being the last scene, but they absolutely made the right decision.
For a movie with a run time of just over 3 hours, the pace is incredibly fast. They hit the ground running and waste no time putting things in motion. But the film also slows down where it needs to, to get certain moments right. There is a chunk of the film involving Thanos and Nebula that slows the movie down. While it is essential to furthering the plot, it just felt lackluster and out of place.
There are a few muddy things when it comes to time travel and logistics of things as well. This is more about Infinity War, but if Doctor Strange could use his magic to teleport the team from Titan to Earth, why didn't he do that on the ship? Yes Stark convinced him to go to Titan but he could have still sent Peter home. I understand why he didn't after he saw the future, but before that, there was no excuse. I wasn't sure if his teleportation powers were localized, but Endgame confirms they are not.
The biggest thing is the time travel logistics. If it is 2023 in the MCU now, why is Peter still in high school with all of his friends? It is possible that they all got snapped, but that is unlikely. Things get even muddier when Tony destroys 2014 Thanos, and when Cap goes back to return the stones. The movie tried to tell us the rules of time travel in this universe were different than things we are used to like in Back To The Future, but it was a quick scene. Some of the time travel things just don't add up. If Loki escaped in 2012, then that severely messes up the Thor sequels. He'd have to return to that moment. Sci-Fi logic doesn't hold together some of these elements very well, but everything else surrounding it (the character interactions, arcs, emotions, humor, action, etc) are so perfect that the plot discrepancies are forgivable.
The cast outside of the big 3 were incredible too: Paul Rudd's Ant-Man was absolutely hilarious. Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye had some substance to him. Scarlet Johansson's Black Widow finally found the peace she was searching for. Mark Ruffalo's Hulk took the next big step in the characters evolution. War Machine, Rocket Raccoon, and Captain Marvel all were satisfying too. The standout though, was probably Karen Gillan's Nebula, who gave an absolutely stunning performance. I was happy Gillan was in the MCU due to me being a fan of hers from Doctor Who, but Endgame made me a forever-fan of the character.
The surprise cameos elicited the perfect responses too. People who you thought would never return to the franchise again showed up. Those moments played really well, but the biggest moment was probably when Captain America started using a particular weapon. Of course he'd be able to use that weapon. I could have had 3 hours of just that.
The whole movie served as a love letter to the MCU's dedicated fan base. While casual fans could enjoy the movie, there are little things in there (like an awesome appearance from a TV-only character) that reward the most loyal of viewers. The third act's climactic battle what 11 years of the MCU's work had been leading up to. They left it all on the table. Character combinations you never thought possible happened. Seeds were planted for future team ups. It was truly a culmination of every frame ever filmed since Jon Favreau began shooting Iron Man back in the mid 2000s.
I am hoping that some of the plot holes will fill themselves in on future rewatches, once their rules of time travel are more clear. But if you look at Endgame through the prisms of "wrapping things up in pieces", it works better than it being one self-contained story. It still works that way, but it is just a bit messier.
There is nothing like seeing an event like this on opening night. The cheers in the theater at all of the moments make you feel like you have this camaraderie with everyone there. For 3 glorious hours, we are nothing else than human Marvel fans. We all cheer, laugh and cry together. It proves that art is a beautiful thing that can bring anyone together. Marvel did 11 years worth of work to make Avengers: Endgame as satisfying a payoff as possible, and for the most part, they succeeded.
These are comic book characters. So there is always a chance you will see them again in some form. The MCU has another 11 years in it, at least. We will get a ton of new blood, but revisit some old too. While Endgame did an extraordinary job celebrating its legacy, the real magic of the movie was that it did an even better job securing its future.
Avengers: Endgame is in theaters now.
THE MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE WILL RETURN.