2010s, 3/4, Action, Marvel, Review

Avengers: Endgame

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#3 in my Ranking of The MCU Phases 1-3.

This is more built like a traditional movie with a recognizable three act structure than Avengers: Infinity War was. I quite like it overall, but that traditionalism requires an antagonist that isn’t really needed, I don’t think.

The three acts are pretty distinct. The first is almost purely character driven. Our massive roster of heroes has been culled to almost exclusively the original six (Cap, Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye) with a few others (Rocket, Nebula, Ant-Man). Considering the film’s length, this gives each character enough time to stand out. I think the decision to jump ahead five years was very smart. The characters have all changed in those five years, and we have to spend time with each of them getting to know them again. We’re essentially being introduced to new characters, and the movie takes its time with it. My favorite of these, not based on the introduction but based on what comes later, is Thor.

Thor is consumed by his failure to aim just a bit higher when he threw his axe at Thanos. If he had hit Thanos in the head instead of the chest, Thanos would not have performed the snap, wiping out half of existence, so he sits in a small corner of Norway where the remnants of Asgard have established a new home. He plays video games, drinks copious amounts of beer, and yells at 12 year olds who make fun of the rock monster Korg online. He’s a sad, fat, king who lords over the small domain he wishes to keep (his living room). We see the other characters in similarly different states. Tony has walked away from a life surrounded by technology and lives in a nice wooden cabin by a lake. Cap leads self-help meetings. Hulk has found equilibrium with Bruce Banner. Black Widow stays in her office, sending other people out to search for Hawkeye who’s left home after his family disappeared, killing those he deems worthy of death.

It’s a surprisingly somber and solid hour of character based storytelling, introducing us to the new rules of a new world with familiar characters who’ve all changed. The one who hasn’t changed is Ant-Man. Scott Lang was trapped in a gobbledygook science state that he thought only lasted five hours but actually lasted five years. He hasn’t changed, and it is through his eyes that we mainly see how things have changed. He’s also the impetus for the movement that leads to the second act: The Time Heist.

I’ve seen the Time Heist described as fan service, and I can’t entirely disagree but I do in part. There’s so much more to this than just seeing things from the past that Marvel fans liked from slightly different angles. That’s definitely part of it, and we get some standardly amusing quippy humor, especially from Ant-Man, Iron Man, and Cap (“America’s ass” indeed). However, there’s a lot more going on especially around Thor. Thor goes back in time (using gobbledygook science that Tony Stark pulls out of nowhere because movie) to Asgard during the events of Thor: The Dark World. The task of retrieving the Beauty Stone becomes completely secondary to Thor’s time spent with his mother in a wonderfully touching scene between mother and son where she helps him find his purpose again. It’s the sort of emotionally driven scene that believably takes a character from one place and gets them into another. I mean, a tender visit with your dead mom might do just that.

Before going any further, you have to talk about this new (old) version of Thanos. Thanos gets his head chopped off in the first sustained sequence of the film, but with time jumping, the older version of the heavy gets introduced. I have to imagine that there’s a very early draft of this film that doesn’t include Thanos at all past the fifteenth page because Thanos has nothing to do with the central conflict of the story (jumping through time to collect the Infinity Stones). He’s purely extra. He shows up after the task is done to fight the world’s mightiest heroes and introduce a late, unrelated, obstacle.

And that’s what the last hour is, an unrelated fight that breaks out in epic style and is just packed full of fan service. The last hour is little beyond that. Every hero comes back when Hulk reverses the snap, and we get an even more concentrated and bigger version of the fight as in the last film. Don’t get me wrong, this stuff is fun to a certain degree and well assembled, but the story’s effectively over by that point and yet it just keeps going. I loved the movie up to this point, and then I just kind of got deflated. “Oh, this is what we’re doing now, huh?”

So, yeah, I loved about two hours of this and tolerated the third. The first two hours aren’t perfect (Tony thinking about time travel for five minutes and finding the perfect answer is just the kind of ludicrous that Marvel is permeated with and sort of just bugs me), but the strong stuff there is very strong. It’s just kind of too bad that the movie “needed” an antagonist shoe-horned in its final act in order to make fans happy.

Netflix Rating: 4/5

Quality Rating: 3/4

6 thoughts on “Avengers: Endgame”

  1. I’m still working my way through this one. There are definitely things I like, and there are things that annoy me (the scene with Ant-Man pissed off because the kids don’t want his picture just goes on too long). Good way to end the MCU, though.

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  2. Ah, the movie that failed.
    I need to spend the time, re-watch this, and spend a few hours writing a review myself for my moribund webzone. I have a hard time working up the energy, just like certain other sci fi movie that I owe a discussion about…

    Here’s the thing: unless your main story is ABOUT time travel…don’t put time travel in your movie. It’s always cheap and fake and stupid and causes more problems than it solves. There are a half dozen ways, just off the top of my head, to resolve the events at the end of Infinity War. They chose one of the worst.

    Special mention of badness also goes to Captain Marvel, who they shoehorn in here as the most powerful person evah and who is always right about everything and no one can ever criticize or even bust their chops but she won’t actually DO anything for most of the movie because….reasons.

    Fuck this writing and production. I swear there was as separate writing and production team on this movie because it is nowhere near as good and sharp as Infinity War or Civil War or Winter Soldier. This felt like they brought in the B team. Or C team.

    The character derailment bothers me a lot, as character is what hooked me on this series.
    Thanos goes from being a complex and interesting bad guy to being a cardboard cutout villain.
    Thor flat out murders a prisoner, then gets fat and pathetic.
    Gamora from the past is back to being unlikeable and stiff as a board.
    Iron Man quits life and starts a family but still comes off twitchy (good performance though)
    The Hulk fixed all his conflicts OFF CAMERA and now is sorta always Bruce Banner but pathetic and sad.

    Pathetic and sad is the feeling of most of this movie. When it’s not replaced by white hot hate or face slapping and teeth grindingingly filled with plot holes, thanks to time travel.

    It’s not all bad. I liked the ending to Captain America’s life. That felt good. Though the rest of it…it makes me angry. Makes me want to smash. Smash this movie. Write own ending. Better ending to saga.

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    1. This reminds me of the disagreement I have with people who hate The Last Jedi (I’ll review that soon enough, so we can yell at each other all over again). But, because I like the Luke stuff, I end up liking the rest of the movie.

      Here, I love the character based stuff that largely makes up the first two hours of the film, and you don’t. Because I hook onto that, I end up going with the movie a lot more than you do. It’s neither right nor wrong, but mostly a taste thing.

      I do agree about Thanos, though. He’s not as interesting the second time around and pretty much just there for a third act fight and nothing else. I mean, the conflict is essentially resolved by the point that he shows up. He serves no real narrative purpose.

      It feels like Thanos was forced into this movie, and I have a feeling it was Feige based on pure guesswork. “You can’t have a big movie without an antagonist!”

      “But the movie doesn’t require one. The nature of the conflict is antagonist enough.”

      “No! We need a big bad!”

      “Well, how do we follow up Thanos?”

      “Death?”

      “Nah…can’t introduce a new bad guy that’s supposed to be bigger than Thanos and then just knock them off by the end.”

      “So…Thanos, then.”

      “Yeah…Thanos.”

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  3. Watched this for the second time, and liked it, but…why was Pepper there at the end? I remember her almost accidentally killing the Iron Man 3 bad guy, but…suit fighter? Really? Actually, I’m sure it was so she could tearfully say farewell to Tony, but, wow, just no.

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