Warning! Spoilers for Avengers: Endgame are to follow. Those wishing to avoid details surrounding the movie are hereby advised.
If you haven’t heard by now, Avengers: Endgame is well on track to be the biggest movie event of all time. The culmination of a lengthy exploration of the creative capabilities of the minds behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Avengers: Endgame promised to be the ultimate exercise in wish fulfillment.
There’s just one major problem — the movie didn’t live up to the hype.
Not as good as many movies that preceded it, this latest and perhaps final installment in the current Marvel product line may have fallen victim to its own powerful hype train and marketing machine. Common criticisms range from disappointment in Captain America’s final scene — as evidenced by reporting from GameSpot — to issues surrounding the pacing of the film.
Why did the movie spend hours in limbo?
One of the major issues plaguing Avengers: Endgame is certainly the film’s pacing. At just over three hours, pins and needles and rumbling stomachs start to kick in when there’s too much dead air — and that’s precisely one of the flaws of the film. From Tony Stark’s overwrought emotionalism bookending the film to the forced comedy constantly being inserted into what was promised to be the most action-packed and lethal Marvel outing yet — there’s a whole lot of nothing that happens for the first two hours.
The Avengers literally depart on a pointless revenge mission to find a now-depleted and monk-like Thanos, with Thor ultimately beheading the Mad Titan after their search proves fruitless. The Infinity Gems are gone, the gauntlet — and Thanos — powerless.
Enter a stock time travel trope. Now, we have teams of Avengers pairing up to go back in time in a serious deus ex machina moment, encountering their former selves — and their former allies and enemies — along the way. While it is somewhat amusing to see some callbacks to previous scenes from earlier films, this second mission also showcases the next serious problem facing the film.
"Avengers: Endgame" has made an estimated $644 million at the worldwide box office so far this weekend, making it the biggest global opening in film history https://t.co/cBnDJzr6A9 pic.twitter.com/ISoqkLOZO0— CNN (@CNN) April 27, 2019
Of character bloat and misused characters.
There are, simply put, way too many characters fighting for the spotlight in Avengers: Endgame. While this may seem an unavoidable reality, it seriously damages the momentum of the movie. We’re just getting invested in once scene, and then a quick cut drags us into another — entirely different and only tangentially connected — bit of narrative. Despite the lengthy running time, some tertiary characters get far too much polish, and some characters — like Thor — are completely embarrassing.
The god of thunder is reduced to an obese alcoholic in Avengers: Endgame. Yes, that’s right. One of the most powerful figures in the established canon has a beer gut, a drinking problem, and a video game addiction. Combine this with a saccharine Tony Stark doing his best actual Tony Stark impression and an overpowered Captain Marvel — herself a spacefaring deus ex machina as well — with an 2000s-era Justin Bieber haircut, and it just doesn’t add up to anything worthwhile. Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man adds little to the storyline except for some comedic relief, and that is already in surplus supply here.
A stilted and wooden Brie Larson serves as the equivalent to Superman in this Marvel universe, and is even less exciting in the godlike role. Thankfully, the creatives behind the movie had the common sense to remove her from the majority of the movie, creating another problem in the process. When she returns, it’s as — yet again — a savior. Overpowered heroes with no discernible weakness are anticlimactic to the core, and Larson’s poor acting and convenient plot contrivances doesn’t help matters.
The less said about the abomination that is Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner/Hulk hybrid, the better. Again played off for laughs, it’s hard to take him at all seriously, something which was equally true of his character in Avengers: Infinity War. The Hulk deserves better, and he never got it.
Avengers endgame is good but overrated asf don’t @ me pic.twitter.com/KtvBCY4VS8— Newt Scamander (@aidilasyrraf) April 26, 2019
An Infinity Gem in the rough.
Sure, that’s all bad. But is the film truly terrible? No. The final act of Avengers: Endgame somehow manages to tie most loose ends up in a neat bow, providing the anticipated action scene and epic battle with a true sense of grandeur. The Asgardians, Wakandans, and assorted sorcerers arrive to aid the nearly-defeated Avengers in the nick of time. Lasers, swords, hammers, and magic intertwine, and the audience is arrested and enthralled with what is going on in front of them.
Then, it’s all over. Iron Man sacrifices himself to win the day, his funeral service is appropriately brief and sentimental, and Captain America hangs up his shield to live the life he had always denied himself.
At the end of the day, Avengers: Endgame is an above-average cape and cowl romp which, although decent, doesn’t rise to the heights of its predecessors. Avengers: Infinity War, Thor: Ragnarok, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 1., and Captain America: Winter Soldier were all much better efforts, not to mention several others.
What works? Black Widow’s face off with Hawkeye for the honor of sacrificing themselves for a stone. And the final battle — all of it.
Final verdict? Worth a watch. But don’t be surprised if it’s not quite as good as expected.