Avengers - Endgame: A Retrospect

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TheAmazingSpidey

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Edited By TheAmazingSpidey

Avengers - Endgame: A Retrospect

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Introduction

I don't often do this, but I thought it would be interesting to revisit a movie only months after release, and discuss if and how my opinion has changed. Why this movie? Why this soon? One word: Perspective. The MCU has been a significant part of my childhood, and because of that, Endgame was an event to me like it was for many others. I went into Endgame anticipating not only a movie, but "an emotional farewell" and "the final chapter in a saga that means so much to me." When you go into a movie with these expectations, it can colour the lens through which you view a movie. Don't mistake me. There's nothing wrong with being personally invested in a movie. But when this investment wears off, it's possible you look at the film which initially moved you to tears (this movie is only the 3rd movie to do that to me in my entire life) and feel like you're watching a different film entirely. Like the movie just doesn't hold up.

I've had my interests shift away dramatically from cinema and into different areas, and the investment I have in the MCU today is only a fraction of what it was when Endgame dropped. I thought it would be interesting to see if this movie still holds up in spite of this. Do I still think this movie is amazing? Do I still think it's the 9.5/10 movie I thought it once was when I saw it in April? I don't think so. Here's the interesting thing, though. My shift in opinion didn't occur as I began to lose my interest in movies and the MCU in general. My shift in opinion actually occurred shortly after I saw the movie in April.

It actually took me a while to realise I didn't like the movie as much as I thought I did. Immediately after I watched the movie, my sister told me "that movie was amazing! We've got to see it again!" I'm always one to jump at the opportunity of rewatching a movie I loved, and having just left the cinema, I told my sister "hell yeah!" The day after watching the movie, I thought to myself "okay, when am I going to watch this again?" And surprisingly, my mind answered by telling me I just didn't feel like seeing it again. It's odd because I watch almost every MCU movie twice in cinemas. Hell, I hated GoTG Vol. 2 and still saw it twice in cinemas. Whenever my sister would mention it, I just pretended I wanted to see it again because I didn't want to be the guy who told someone I was up for doing something with them only to change my mind. We never ended up rewatching it, because I think my sister lost interest too and felt she had better things to do, but I was thankful for it. Why, though? The more I thought and heard about the movie, the more I realised it was just because I thought the movie wasn't all that great or interesting. One watch was more than enough for me. Why is that?

Review

On paper, Endgame delivers a satisfying conclusion in terms of the character arcs of a lot of these characters. A paragon of selflessness like Steve Rogers deciding once to live selfishly is perfect, as is Tony Stark's sacrifice. It is pure poetry to have a character who originally built an armour intended for their survival, to end their character arc laying their life down in an armour essentially designed for them to sacrifice themselves. The movie gets the characters pitch perfectly, and for a lot of people, that's all that matters.

That said, once the initial emotional impact of seeing Steve and Tony get their perfectly envisioned endings, Endgame leaves a lot to be desired. The fundamental issues begin about 15 minutes into the runtime, when Thor decapitates Thanos. A lot of people enjoyed this creative decision, proclaiming it left them having "no idea where the story would head next!" I thought this creative decision was rubbish, and kneecaps a movie that's just barely begun. Avengers: Infinity War built it's entire premise on "how on earth are they going to defeat Thanos?" Every scene is essentially a reminder of how powerful Thanos is and how screwed the Avengers are.

The movie ends with Thanos accomplishing his victory, and the question of "how are they going to defeat Thanos carries onto the next film?" I spent an entire year anticipating the progression of the Thanos vs. Avengers conflict. By killing Thanos within the first 15 minutes of Endgame, you've answered one of the movie's central questions before it's even began. This would be like if the entire Harry Potter saga built up the conflict between Harry and Voldemort, only for JK Rowling to kill Voldemort 15 minutes into the Deathly Hallows.

It's a good way to ensure I lose interest early on into the movie. As bad of a creative decision as this is, I'm willing to give the filmmakers an opportunity to regain my interest by giving my something else, even if it isn't what I expected. This movie fails to do that, as the movie essentially becomes a "Greatest Hits" Collection of the MCU, revisiting previous MCU movies. Sure, there are variations to these scenes. We aren't watching 1:1 recreations, and some are entirely newly envisioned scenes, such as Tony and Howard's scene.

But regardless, there is still little in the way of conflict in these scenes. For the entire second act of this film, there is literally no antagonist, which makes the entire heist segment feel less like a high-stakes action sequence, and instead a delightful walk through an amusement park, where the highest moments of tension feel like less nail-biting, anxiety-inducing, and more "whoopsies!" It's already uninteresting in it's own right, but particularly feels like a 180 from the constantly high-stakes, thrill-inducing Infinity War.

It is in this heist-segment of the movie when the Russo's decide to kill Black Widow. The idea of killing Black Widow isn't an inherently bad one, but her death is woefully mishandled here. Her death is treated less like the death of one of the longest-running, most prevalent MCU characters, and more like the death of a supporting character who was just introduced a movie or two ago. Not only are the moments leading up to the death overly cartoony, awkward and overly-theatrical, with Black Widow and Hawkeye essentially "battling" one another over who gets to commit suicide: we barely get to let her death sink in.

We get a few moments to mourn the death of an iconic character, only for the directors to tell us "hurry up! It's time for this show to move on!" I've heard a lot of people say "well, there wasn't space in the movie for Natasha's funeral", which I don't necessarily disagree with. However, if a filmmaker can't find a good way to do something, they shouldn't do it. If you can't think of a way to give one of the most iconic MCU characters a good farewell, just don't do it. I've also heard the excuse (from the filmmakers who made this movie) that "Natasha doesn't get a funeral because she is getting her own movie next year", which is a silly reason. A movie should stand on it's own merits and strengths, and not rely on a movie coming out a year from now, to alleviate it's flaws.

The third-act is when the movie decides it wants to have it's cake and eat it too. It wants to subvert expectations by killing Thanos, but ALSO have a large-scale action scene with Thanos as the final act of the movie. Here's the catch, though. The Thanos in the final act isn't the Thanos we grew to love (as a character - as a person, he's a piece of shit genocidal maniac) in IW.

I don't know who at Marvel thought it would be a good decision to have the Avengers fight a Thanos who has no recollection of the events in IW, but it removes the dramatic stakes that could've existed had this been the Thanos who experienced the events of IW. Think about it. The Thanos in this movie is literally fighting a bunch of nobodies he's never met before. It even makes his dusting at the hands of Tony feel less ironic and satisfying, because this isn't the Thanos who snapped the Avengers away. It's some dude who is supposed to become Thanos in a few years, but will never get to be, and has no past experiences with these people.

Conclusion

Overall, Avengers: Endgame is not a terrible movie, but it isn't a very good one either. In terms of functioning a sendoff to the MCU, it does a respectable job, giving conceptually perfect conclusions to Steve and Tony. However, where it succeeds as a farewell to those two characters, it fails in a lot of areas that constitute a great movie, and proves that while the destination is important, the journey to get there is just as, if not more significant, in crafting a great movie. Whereas the ending initially left a good taste in my mouth, the 2 2/3 worth of cinema leading up to it left me with no desire to revisit this movie again. And I even revisited GoTG Vol. 2!

I rarely talk movies nowadays, or even engage with them all that much anymore, which made me feel more creatively rejuvenated, fresh and passionate when I sat down to write this. I had loads of fun with it and the words came to me unusually easily, so I hope you enjoyed reading it! If you agree with me, that's great! If you think I'm a bumbling idiot, that's also great. As long as you gave me your time of day, I appreciate it! Just let me know how you feel in the comments below! See you ladies, gentlemen and others next time :)

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AkshSarpanch

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As not a Marvel fan in general, I think Infinity War and Winter Soldier is way above this movie.

If you aren't attached to Marvel from thr start, this movie is average at best

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Ready_4_Madness

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This is a good breakdown. Tbh I really like the film though.

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TobyMaguire2

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Very Thoughtful arguments and interesting analysis especially the Thanos Situation.

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MarvelandDCfan24

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Amazing write up as always

I too thought Endgame was amazing way back when I first saw it but looking back on it, it's no where near as epic as I thought it was. There's too much fan service and not enough pay offs in the movie along with lack luster battle scenes. I think the ending is really amazing not the whole final battle but the Tony snap.

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TommytheHitman

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Good write up and good points.

I definitely feel Endgame wasted a lot of the potential that was setup by Infinity War and could have been a thousand times better.

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BullPR

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@theamazingspidey: I don't remember your first review of the movie but I totally agree with this one (I won't do a point by point comment, I have basically the same analysis).

I think I wrote when it came out that it was a good ending for this MCU cycle. But not a good movie.

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jashro44

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Personally I don’t mind the avengers killing Thanos. The infinity war Thanos had nothing to fight for after he won. He died without knowing his work was undone. Meaning that in a twisted way he never really got justice.

I don’t mind the Thanos they fought at the end of end game wasn’t the infinity war Thanos. I don’t think infinity war established any rivalries between thanos except with Tony and Thor. But they were never really explored. You could argue the threat of Thanos was explored in previous avengers movies and iron man 3 for Tony, but I don’t think the actual rivalry was explored.

It’s true end game Thanos is a different character but I think that stems from him realizing he made a mistake that the universe wouldn’t be grateful for what he did. Plus this Thanos is also taking a quicker route to the gauntlet through conquest rather than the spiritual journey that IW Thanos took.

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Mutant1230

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Your criticisms are on point, Spidey. The more I've been thinking about it the more I'm realizing that Endgame is not going to age well as the MCU continues to grow and expand. It introduced a very convoluted and inconsistent version of time travel, Hulk's arc was solved off screen, Thor officially solidified as a joking fratbro instead of a Viking Warrior, Thanos' depth from Infinity War has been rendered meaningless, and now all the things you pointed out about the lack of stakes in the plot, etc.

Those are huge missteps that can't just be ignored, Endgame was the climax of the Infinity Saga and the foundation for all the movies and Disney+ shows that are coming in Phase 4. This movie had very little room for mistakes, and they made a ton of them. Not to say it was complete trash or anything, I personally would say I enjoyed Endgame and like you said Captain America and Iron Man's arcs/endings were brilliant, but it's no Infinity War, and it could've been with just a few fixes really.

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mrmonster

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#9 mrmonster  Online

I agree with pretty much all of this.

The pacing of this movie honestly is terrible. Act 1 moves so quickly that you feel like you don't even have time to blink, Act 2 moves so slowly that it just gets boring. When I saw it for the second time, I left the theater to use my phone during part of the time travel sequence, I was that bored.

And I think you nailed it on the head as to why its so boring. The entire second act of this movie has no antagonist and no stakes. The one and only stake almost had (the Avengers risking being stuck in the past if they fail) was completely taken away when Iron Man suddenly remembered that he knew of a time where they could easily grab both the Tesseract and new Pym Particles, which then begs the question as to why that wasn't where they started their time travel crusade.

Another thing that I think really makes this movie suffer is just how fine everything and everyone is after The Snap. You'd think something like the sudden loss of half of all people would lead to the complete breakdown of society and a Mad Max-esque world where there's no law and order, but there's none of that. Except for everyone being depressed, the post-Snap world seems fine. Maybe this movie would've been more compelling if they had something to fight for other than a world where people aren't as gloomy.

Oh, and I would be remiss if I did not talk about Thanos. Again, I pretty much agree with you, they handled Thanos terribly. They robbed us of the good, compelling Thanos in the first Act only to replace him with a Thanos whose only motivation for doing anything is that he saw a video. Whereas Infinity War Thanos was a great and compelling villain who we could actually care about, this Thanos was just dull.

I think the only thing I disagree with you on is Black Widow. I don't really think her or her death were handled badly, except for her not getting a funeral. But then again, I've never really cared about her as a character, I've always thought she and Hawkeye were some of the MCU's most pointless lead characters. But other than that, I can't really say there's anything here I disagree with, at least not enough to add another paragraph to this already long post.

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LorenzoDeSila

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#10  Edited By LorenzoDeSila

This was maybe the movie with more potential of the history. They completely wasted it all. It was so predictable and pure fan service.While watching at the film in the cinema I couldn't stop thinking that it couldn't be that bland, I was expecting for something exciting and unpredictable to happen but they completely dissapointed me and leading to the end of the film I had a mixed of anger and sadness feeling.

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KingOfWakanda

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#11  Edited By KingOfWakanda

Eh, I'm not as down on Endgame as most seem to be. I do agree that the film has lost some of it's luster after it's initial viewing (But what an initial viewing it was!)

I won't go point for point but I didn't share most of the issues you had with the film, although I can acknowledge why they didn't work for you, I wasn't as bothered. You make some fair and valid critiques. Ultimately, the story of Endgame (and the MCU) is not Thanos' story. It's about our heroes, so I was glad we got to spend as much time with them as we did. If this is truly the last time we are to see Cap and Tony, I'd rather spend that screen time with them and the people they care about. As a send off for Cap and Tony, I honestly couldn't ask for more.

Thanos completed his arc and served his narrative purpose in IW. Killing him early (as opposed to spending the whole movie hunting him) cleared the decks to allow time for a fractured team to reconnect. MCU just did what they've done in countless movies, which is spotlight the hero's journey over the villain. Also, I was not troubled by IW and Endgame Thanos being different characters. They are different people. Endgame Thanos didn't go through the same journey as IW Thanos. When he realized all his efforts would go unappreciated he snapped (no pun intended) to reveal the homicidal maniac he has been hiding under a guise of wanting a peaceful and balanced universe.

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Thor_Parker82

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I had been struggling for a time to accept this, but Endgame could have been so much better, don't get me wrong, I think the third act is perfect and I can't see any movie topping it.

However, a movie can't rely solely on its third act, especially when the former two were unimpressive.

As epic as Thor decapitating Thanos is, it took away all the threatening aspects they built so well in Infinity War, not to mention there are literally no action scenes in the movie up until the third act.

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TheAmazingSpidey

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As not a Marvel fan in general, I think Infinity War and Winter Soldier is way above this movie.

If you aren't attached to Marvel from thr start, this movie is average at best

Agreed. IW is the best MCU movie in my opinion, and TWS is up there!

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TheAmazingSpidey

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This is a good breakdown. Tbh I really like the film though.

Thanks! Glad you appreciated my analysis even if we came to somewhat different conclusions :)

Very Thoughtful arguments and interesting analysis especially the Thanos Situation.

Thank you very much!

Amazing write up as always

I too thought Endgame was amazing way back when I first saw it but looking back on it, it's no where near as epic as I thought it was. There's too much fan service and not enough pay offs in the movie along with lack luster battle scenes. I think the ending is really amazing not the whole final battle but the Tony snap.

Tony's snap is one of the better moments in the movie, but like I mentioned in the article, I think the dramatic irony of Thanos being snapped away at the hands of Tony isn't as prevalent as it could've been, due to it not being the same Thanos. Didn't stop me from bawling my eyes out though lol.

@jashro44 said:

Personally I don’t mind the avengers killing Thanos. The infinity war Thanos had nothing to fight for after he won. He died without knowing his work was undone. Meaning that in a twisted way he never really got justice.

I don’t mind the Thanos they fought at the end of end game wasn’t the infinity war Thanos. I don’t think infinity war established any rivalries between thanos except with Tony and Thor. But they were never really explored. You could argue the threat of Thanos was explored in previous avengers movies and iron man 3 for Tony, but I don’t think the actual rivalry was explored.

It’s true end game Thanos is a different character but I think that stems from him realizing he made a mistake that the universe wouldn’t be grateful for what he did. Plus this Thanos is also taking a quicker route to the gauntlet through conquest rather than the spiritual journey that IW Thanos took.

I think it's important to realise that what makes sense from a thematic standpoint isn't necessarily satisfying from a narrative standpoint. Although it somewhat makes sense for Thanos to retire and live a quiet life on a farm after his victory, his death is narratively unsatisfying (for me at least - all I can really give is my personal opinion!) And considering the Thanos at the end of this movie basically peels back the layers of the character and reveals him as someone who wants to kill people for the sake of it and just uses the "overpopulation" thing as an excuse for his actions, it would make just as much, if not, more sense to me if post-IW Thanos still had an appetite for death and destruction.

Your criticisms are on point, Spidey. The more I've been thinking about it the more I'm realizing that Endgame is not going to age well as the MCU continues to grow and expand. It introduced a very convoluted and inconsistent version of time travel, Hulk's arc was solved off screen, Thor officially solidified as a joking fratbro instead of a Viking Warrior, Thanos' depth from Infinity War has been rendered meaningless, and now all the things you pointed out about the lack of stakes in the plot, etc.

Those are huge missteps that can't just be ignored, Endgame was the climax of the Infinity Saga and the foundation for all the movies and Disney+ shows that are coming in Phase 4. This movie had very little room for mistakes, and they made a ton of them. Not to say it was complete trash or anything, I personally would say I enjoyed Endgame and like you said Captain America and Iron Man's arcs/endings were brilliant, but it's no Infinity War, and it could've been with just a few fixes really.

Lol thanks for reminding me of the Thor thing! So much disappointed me in this movie, that I forgot to bring some of them up (like the inappropriately comedic tone Thor's character takes, or the Avengers's muted reaction to Tony's death).

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TheAmazingSpidey

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I agree with pretty much all of this.

The pacing of this movie honestly is terrible. Act 1 moves so quickly that you feel like you don't even have time to blink, Act 2 moves so slowly that it just gets boring. When I saw it for the second time, I left the theater to use my phone during part of the time travel sequence, I was that bored.

And I think you nailed it on the head as to why its so boring. The entire second act of this movie has no antagonist and no stakes. The one and only stake almost had (the Avengers risking being stuck in the past if they fail) was completely taken away when Iron Man suddenly remembered that he knew of a time where they could easily grab both the Tesseract and new Pym Particles, which then begs the question as to why that wasn't where they started their time travel crusade.

Another thing that I think really makes this movie suffer is just how fine everything and everyone is after The Snap. You'd think something like the sudden loss of half of all people would lead to the complete breakdown of society and a Mad Max-esque world where there's no law and order, but there's none of that. Except for everyone being depressed, the post-Snap world seems fine. Maybe this movie would've been more compelling if they had something to fight for other than a world where people aren't as gloomy.

Oh, and I would be remiss if I did not talk about Thanos. Again, I pretty much agree with you, they handled Thanos terribly. They robbed us of the good, compelling Thanos in the first Act only to replace him with a Thanos whose only motivation for doing anything is that he saw a video. Whereas Infinity War Thanos was a great and compelling villain who we could actually care about, this Thanos was just dull.

I think the only thing I disagree with you on is Black Widow. I don't really think her or her death were handled badly, except for her not getting a funeral. But then again, I've never really cared about her as a character, I've always thought she and Hawkeye were some of the MCU's most pointless lead characters. But other than that, I can't really say there's anything here I disagree with, at least not enough to add another paragraph to this already long post.

Glad you enjoyed my breakdown of the movie! I never thought of the idea of the world post-snap devolving into chaos, but that's certainly an interesting point and angle they could've explored.

Almost all of the movie's fundamental issues are rooted in the terrible mishandling of Thanos. I still can't believe they thought it was a good idea to give us a Thanos in the final-act who has none of the experiences of Infinity War and none of the character-depth. It's basically a big middle finger to everything that went down in Infinity War, and the depiction of that character which we were compelled by in IW.

And hey - If you disagree with me on the Black Widow thing, that's totally fine! I've always felt I liked Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow more than most people did lol.

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TheSpartanB345T

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#16  Edited By TheSpartanB345T

Finally people are joining me on the Endgame hate train lmao.

Everything here is accurate, but I would probably talk about more than just this (like how only two main characters of the OG Avengers were done justice and 2 were nearly ruined) but it's a good overview of its flaws.

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TheAmazingSpidey

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Finally people are joining me on the Endgame hate train lmao.

Everything here is accurate, but I would probably talk about more than just this (like how only two main characters of the OG Avengers were done justice and 2 were nearly ruined) but it's a good overview of its flaws.

Yup. Thor was pretty terribly handled, and Black Widow was given an awful send-off. I quite liked what they did with Hawkeye, and I enjoyed what they did with Hulk, though I hoped for some badass action moments from him.

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jashro44

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#18  Edited By jashro44

@theamazingspidey: Well for me thanos’s motives never really made much sense. The only way I could make sense of his motives in infinity war was to assume he was just mad.

I still see thanos at the end of end game trying to save the universe in his own way it’s just a different method than in IW because he has a method to get all the stones at once.

Out of curiosity what dynamic would have been boosted for you if it was IW Thanos?

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#19 ganon15  Online

As not a Marvel fan in general, I think Infinity War and Winter Soldier is way above this movie.

If you aren't attached to Marvel from thr start, this movie is average at best