This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Zach’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
| Avengers: Endgame Spoiler Review |
When a TV show is closing out their season, what is more memorable? The finale or the episode before the finale? To me, I always found the most enjoyment with the episode before the finale. While the finale is satisfying, they usually try to wrap things up from the previous episode for the next season. This is how I felt with Avengers: Endgame. As a whole it is a satisfying conclusion to the Infinity Saga, but it’s just a string of events to wrap up the conflict from the Infinity War. It’s enjoying to watch, but as the hype wears off and multiple re-watches set in, the storytelling isn’t as compelling as the previous installment.
I’m not going to sit here and try to compare the two films, because they’re enjoyable in their own way. However, the thing that makes Infinity War better as a film is the pacing of the story, and the unpredictability factor of it all. Sitting in the theater for Infinity War, I didn’t know if Tony was going to die in this film, or if someone was going to make the ultimate sacrifice in that one. Once the ending credits roll in that one, the roadmap for Endgame was in our faces the whole time. There is only really one way to bring back everyone, because let’s face it, Marvel wasn’t going to leave their most profitable characters (Black Panther and Spider-Man) left to be just ash in the wind. So, the only solution is Time Travel. Which is hinted more after the released of Ant-Man and the Wasp.
After this was established, and we see our heroes putting the pieces together, any fan of this saga knew what was going to happen. While the aspects of how it was all going to happen was still a mystery, the two aspects that were set in stone were Tony is going to sacrifice himself, and everyone is going to come back. The film loses that suspense that was present in Infinity War. This is a major flaw within this film, and it heavily affects the pacing of this film at points. With a nearly three hour runtime and with multiple revisits, the film feels like a chore to get through at times. However, not everything about this is chore, mainly with the first half of the film.
The first hour of this film is phenomenal to me. Seeing the aftermath of “The Snap” is handled well from The Russo Brothers, and with the twist of the five-year time jump I was on board throughout that whole hour. All my questions were being answered right from the gate, and story aspects from Infinity War are carried over with ease. Mainly with Thor, Iron Man and Captain America’s. Seeing Thor go for the head this time around left me shocked that first time, and it’s still a great and emotional moment for this film. I’ll get to the character of Thor in a bit, but the set up of his character development is fantastic. The conflict of Cap and Tony is still being carried over from Civil War and Infinity War. At a time of crisis they put their differences to the side, but Tony still isn’t happy with Cap. Tony’s rant was emotional to watch, and perfectly sets up his departure for the next five years. The storytelling in this first hour was really stellar. Except for one character that since day one I’ve been disappointed on how she was handled in this film, and that is Captain Marvel.
Everything she did in that first 20 minutes was excellent, but they quickly write her off once the time gap situation is established. How are you going to build up this character with the end credit scene of Infinity War, and have her be this powerful superhero in her own movie just to write her off because she’s too “overpowered”. I understand that as a writer juggling with multiple big personalities, you have to shelve some people who put the story you want to tell in a pickle, but come on. Writing off a newcomer just because she’s “too powerful” left me feeling so underwhelming with the character. While I did enjoy her moment in the end (which we’ll get to later on), it just felt like lazy writing to not have her apart of this crew.
The majority of the first hour is about The Avengers dealing with the idea that they lost. This leads to some really compelling story moments with characters like Black Widow and Captain America. I always love the speech Cap gives to this grief counseling ￼group. How they all need to accept what happen and to move on. It added more to the dramatic of “The Snap”, and how it impacted the whole world. Then later on when Cap is talking one-on-one with Black Widow, we get more of that emotional realization that they lost. Being a team that’s suppose to save the world, and having it lost in a big way was told incredibly through these two characters. Hearing how Natasha had nothing until she met them, and wishing there was any possible way to save everyone was emotional to watch. Mainly because Scarlett Johansson is so damn good in this film. Besides RDJ, she brings the most emotion for her character in this film. I felt the weight of the lost through her acting. Then when she sees an opportunity of the idea of Time Travel through Ant-Man, we felt more of the impact of this possible solution through her acting. One of the many reasons why this first hour is so stellar to revisit.
As the film continues with The Avengers putting the pieces together on how Time Travel works, and Tony figuring it all out the film takes its time building up this new concept. With some familiar and great humor from Marvel. RDJ just brings so much life when he’s on screen interacting with everyone else. Some of my favorites lines are just small pieces of dialogue from RDJ, he just knows how to handle this character with ease. However, the one character with the best lines and new story arch was Thor. I know a lot of people are mixed with how they treated him, but deep down he’s the most thought out character in this film. Seeing a character struggle with the concept of defeat, when all his life he’s won all of his battles is told damn near perfectly through Thor. They set this up greatly in Infinity War. When him and Rocket are having a one-on-one conversation about what if he’s wrong, and they lose. Endgame shows the aftermath of all of that.
This character going through a deep depression, because he wanted to see this villain suffer instead of killing him right there is really intriguing. While the jokes with the character are hit or miss, and mainly consist of pop-culture references of how “fat” he’s gotten, the movie still tells a great story with this character. They add to Thor’s revival character development, and add another realism layer to him. Battling the lost with borderline alcoholism and dealing with depression, this character has a big triumphant moment towards the end of the film. I always loved how they didn’t slim down his character in the big end battle. He still has the same figure, and is still kicking so much ass. It proves that you don’t need a superhero body to kick ass. He honestly looked like a big Viking God and it was a nice and fresh concept design for this character. Chris Hemsworth acted the hell out of this character too. He carries so much personality, and when some of his jokes don’t land like they should, he still can bring a chuckle out of you just because of his larger than life personality with this character.
As the film progresses with the Time Travel concept, and the plan is playing out, this is when the film starts to go down a bit to me. While there are some incredible moments, and some well-deserved “fan service” scenes, the film’s pacing starts to be an issue. The Avengers travel to four different time periods to get the stones, and in all honestly the format just felt like it was showing us MCU’s greatest hits. At times there are some great moments like I said, but the film drags on a couple of scenes a little too much. With each revisit, I found myself feeling the length more and more. The whole sequence in New York was fantastic and really set the tone for the gigantic second act. Tony and Ant-Man’s chemistry is wonderful to watch, and we get some great moments from Captain America. “That is America’s Ass” is one of my favorite lines from the movie. However, the scenes where it makes it drag are the one with Professor Hulk. While I really enjoy this new rendition of the Hulk, his scenes with the Ancient One just felt like exposition scenes, and were mainly there to serve the purpose of Cap’s ending. On first watch this is fine, but it really doesn’t age well after multiple revisit.
That’s the problem with the majority of this second act. A lot of the scenes don’t hold up, and actually makes me want to skip them. For every great scene like Cap fighting his past self, there’s a scene that stops this great pacing. The scenes involving Thor and Rocket were fine, and I do love the story arch of Thor getting closure with his mom, but there was just something holding these back. Maybe in the back of my mind I felt like this was Marvel’s way of making Thor: The Dark World relevant, and it slowed the pacing of this second act a lot. Besides the Star-Lord moment, I really felt underwhelmed with the 2014 scenes. Again, this is all because of how it was paced out.
Overall, the story that’s being told isn’t horrible, but how these scenes are constructed together made me feel the film’s length. I guess in the back of mind I just knew that they were going to get all the stones. Like I said above the unpredictability factor is taken out, and this leaves zero suspense in these scenes. Not trying to compare the two, but look how Thanos got the stones in Infinity War. There were stakes in each stone, and each stone felt like they had meaning to them. Vision carrying the soul stone. Dr. Strange, Iron Man, Spider-Man, and the Guardians fighting for their lives to not let him get the stones or the time stone. Then of course Thanos throwing Gamora off a cliff. Each of these scenes had weight to them, so when I see The Avengers performing a “time heist” to retrieve them, I just knew they were going to succeed. Yeah, they’re hiccups along the way, but none of them had any weight to them. Besides the soul stone of course, which I’ll get to in a minute, but this whole second act just felt like a string of the greatest hits from the MCU, mixed in with some great fan service. Memorable moments for sure, but it takes a while to get to these moments because of the pacing.
After about a year and a few revisits, I come to terms that I didn’t like what they did with Black Widow. Look, I understand this is what she wanted, and she felt like everything has been leading up to this, but I honestly felt like this was Hawkeye moment. The film opens up with him losing his family, and the whole point of his character is seeking vengeance to people that weren’t effected by “The Snap”, but in his mind should have been. He said he’s done bad stuff in this span of five years, and he is willing to sacrifice himself to bring his family back. It was all there and the right time for the character to depart. So when the decision was made to see Black Widow make the sacrifice, it really took me off guard. There really wasn’t any development of her taking the sacrifice like there was with Hawkeye. The only real explanation is the “Whatever It Takes” line. This just doesn’t feel right with the character and her development. To me, I felt like it was time for the character of Hawkeye to go, because even though we’re getting a Black Widow movie, I think Marvel dropped the ball on her character and making her the next team leader for The Avengers. Again, I didn’t fully dislike the second act, but there were just decisions and pacing issues that boggled it down a lot.
Now it’s time to talk about the final hour of this film. The big conclusion to the Infinity Saga that in the end is every comic book fans dream. The film quickly picks up the pace again in this last act, but there’s still issues I have with it. Yes, the final battle scene is memorizing to watch, and like I said every comic book fan’s dream. However, it started off really beautiful and then slowly became underwhelming to me. I love the original trio going to town on Thanos. The Russo’s know how to handle big wide shot action scenes. Everything felt right in this beginning. Seeing Cap pick up Thor’s hammer felt earned, and is honestly chilling to watch. Seeing Thor become the big Viking God like I mention is incredible. There was still something missing with the scenes though. They’re fighting against a completely different Thanos. There isn’t much substance with this Thanos, because he’s more naive and ruthless. Which is intense to see, but again makes it predictable that he is going to lose, because he is not the same as he was in Infinity War. I didn’t realize how much weight this actually carries in that film compare to this one.
My absolute favorite moment of the film is Captain America getting up, and still fighting. That whole scene, and with the portals coming through is pure movie magic. It’s 11 years in the making to have that one big and epic shot of all these characters, and finally hearing Cap say “Avengers... Assemble”. I tear up every time. It feels like my teenage years coming into a close. I also love the camera work that is presented in this end battle. The Russo makes the battle feel larger than life, and like comic book pages oozing off onto the screen. After the first few scenes of battle take place, I start to see the cracks within the battle.
It’s very easy to turn my brain off and just look at the beauty of 11 years coming to a close, but there’re still story elements, and character development choices that just doesn’t sit well with me. The main one being Star Lord and Gamora. Every time I watch the scene where they reunite, I just can’t help but feel disappointed. To me, they threw away one of my favorite aspect of both GOTG films. All the scenes involving Star Lord and Gamora’s love just doesn’t feel right anymore, because that Gamora is dead. I can see the bright side on how this is something new to deal with in GOTGVOL3, but I just can’t look pass it with each watch. One of my favorite scenes in GOTG is the balcony scene between them and “Fooled Around And Fall In Love” playing in the background. Welp, that scene is just a memory now because of all of this.
Then as the battle continues, another incredible moment to me is Captain Marvel’s entry. After nearly two and half hours she returns. Again, we all know they sideline her because she can literally take on this whole army by herself if she can. Hell, she destroys their main ship. So when the A-Force moment happens, I just wasn’t buying it. If you’ve been following my page you know I’m all for this type of stuff, but there was just something off about it. It felt like a last minute scene, just to show off these characters. Which I don’t mind one bit, but the reasoning behind it feels pointless. They even show Captain Marvel not needing their help because she plows right through everyone. I rather have this big A-Force moment with a different reasoning. Like seeing them all beat up Thanos, or a group of soldiers, and having them accidentally team up. For example Birds of Prey, that ending fight sequence and having them all get in one big wide shot. That’s an accidental team up, and how they realize they all can kick as together. I rather have a moment like that.
So, after the big battle is coming to close which I was surprise is actually shorter than I remembered, because once Captain Marvel comes in, really what’s the point of showing everyone fighting still. The film focuses the attention to her, and the big trio fighting for the Gauntlet. Now the suspense I’ve been wanting comes into play. Every time I watch it I’m on the edge of my seat. The perfect example of how intense they make it is when Thanos is running towards it like he needs it more than he realizes to beat everyone. I love every moment that happens with these scenes, especially the one-on-one with him and Captain Marvel. It’s what I’ve been waiting for the whole runtime of this film. Then the moment that really has been set in stone since Infinity War. Tony sacrificing himself. I couldn’t have thought of a more perfect ending to his character. A character that I’ve been watching since 2008, coming to a close and making the ultimate sacrifice. There’s really not a single complaint with everything that follows. It’s heartbreaking and emotional to watch every time.
As we get to the last twenty minutes of the film, and we see the funeral of Tony Stark. It’s hard not to be emotional throughout all of this. The Russo’s actually make the audience feel like their sharing the grief that these other characters have. Everything just felt right for this character. Then with the one final send off for Captain America, it was a nice bow for this film. I can go on how the actual ending for his character makes zero sense in the sense of time and continuity errors, but it’s literally too perfect for the character to even consider thinking about it. Seeing him finally live the life he always wanted with Peggy is the only way to send this character off. Even though I was underwhelmed with a lot of the story aspects, character development and pacing, I still love the last twenty minutes with a passion.
In conclusion, Avengers: Endgame isn’t a perfect film, or a horrible film. It served its purpose on wrapping up this saga, and closing out a couple of characters. The Russo’s had a lot on their plate, and to even fathom handling two films like this back-to-back is mind-numbing to me. So they without a doubt have my respect for this. If I don’t point out my problems with this film than I’ll be lying to all of you. If you find this film perfect with zero flaws, then good for you, I hope you can watch this film forever without seeing a single flaw. That’s how I am with Star Wars and Birds of Prey. We all need to still respect each other opinions even if you don’t agree with them. In the end, this film isn’t flawless to me, but I still love watching it when I can. I can’t wait to watch this 10 or 20 years from now and see how it aged. Thank you Marvel for being a big part of my teenage years.