This is your warning. It is truly impossible to discuss this film in any capacity without going into plot details. I strongly urge you to watch Endgame before reading this review. If you care about spoilers, you might as well see it as soon as possible, then come back and give this review a look-see. You have been warned.
A wise man once said, “If everyone’s super, then no one will be.” This is the curse of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A ten-year long experiment to try and find someone as charismatic as Tony Stark, the roster keeps getting larger, thus spreading the butter so thin you can barely taste it. This was the chief issue with Infinity War, a film I described as a “Sisyphean nightmare,” there simply were too many characters for me to care about any of them. Notoriously being frustrated with the MCU’s omnipresence in pop culture, I was less than thrilled going into Endgame. However, I’m a big enough man to admit when I’m wrong. It turns out that when you split the cast of characters in half, the result is a pretty damn entertaining film.
What are my biggest issues with most of Marvel’s movies? I feel they’re too bloated, don’t slow down enough for genuine character moments, and by and large, just feel like lengthy trailers for the next installment in the franchise. Thankfully, Endgame suffers from none of these issues. For the first hour and a half of this movie, give or take, there is little to no punching. Instead of constantly moving monotony like Infinity War, it takes its time crafting a mood and dwelling on the toll strife will take on these characters we’ve been contractually obligated to watch for ten years. It’s genuinely nice to see actors like Robert Downy Jr. and Scarlett Johannson be given a chance to act for once, instead of just being computer-generated blurs in boring action sequences. Honestly, I felt everything leading up to the time travel aspect of this film was really solid, and a welcome change of pace from the Marvel House brand.
As for the middle stretch of this film, I think it has good and bad qualities. Pulling a back to the future and revisiting their old movies was a great idea and allowed for a lot of really fun moments. I do think they didn’t quite match the tone of some of the older films, in favor of some jokes, but it’s alright seeing how fanservice is the name of the game here. Eventually, though, this sequence began to last way too long. Don’t get me wrong, I was having a pretty good time with it all, but after about the tenth minute of Tony Stark talking to his dad, I was ready to move on. Introducing time travel to this plot certainly opened a can of worms when it comes to questions though. It is impossible to connect with this movie if you get hung up on plotholes, so it’s best to just accept that some things just won’t add up and hang around for the ride, but I do wish they’d clue me in on the film’s internal logic a little bit more. I get why they needed to time travel, but I was confused as to how they were doing it and what exactly their end goal was. I understand they had to get all six stones, but I just couldn’t quite follow what the consequences of their actions were. I would have liked a dialogue exchange where the characters explained the movie’s internal logic in layman’s terms. You know, like a scene of a scientist poking a hole through a piece of paper to demonstrate a wormhole. Something like that.
As for the final act of this movie, it’s hard not to just go along for the ride. Yes, it is another long scene of CGI characters fighting CGI monsters. Yes, it kind of looks like greywater most of the time. Yes, much of it is incoherent blobs crashing into one another just for the camera to focus on each player one by one so they can have a brief moment to shine. But, you know, Captain America wields Thor’s hammer so all is forgiven. I guess my point is, unlike most of the big CGI battles these movies have had previously, it felt earned. If you don’t have every character tearing through enemies like paper for the film’s entire runtime, it suddenly becomes much more rewarding to watch them fight. The final showdown was just a lot of fun. It was great to see all of the female heroes together, to see Cap and Thor fighting side by side, and to have Iron Man get the final moment he deserved. Was it pretty dopy? Sure, but hey, that’s comic books.
Perhaps the greatest compliment I can give this movie is it genuinely feels like an ending. Tony Stark is never coming back. Chris Evans finally gets to stop playing Captain America. And most importantly, there were no end credit scenes to trick you into buying a ticket to the next one. This is it. The end of an era. While Marvel is going to keep trying to get you to the theater going forward, no superhero movie is ever going to make as much money as this ever again. It’s nice to have hope that some other genre will finally get a chance to break into the spotlight again now that Endgame is behind us. Will I probably be worn-out again when I am inevitably made to see Doctor Strange 2? Almost certainly. But for now, it’s nice to feel this satisfied. They really did pull it off. The movie isn’t as perfect as people will have you believe. It has some fundamental structural issues and is certainly too long. Many of the jokes land but they don’t all work, and I doubt the film will feel as snappy on a rewatch. But for the most part, it feels like the best version of this movie it could have been. Rest in peace, Tony Stark.