Updated: Jul 7, 2020
If you didn't catch my review of last year's Avenger's Infinity War, you won't understand when I say I have to rescind my previous statement. THIS movie, not the last Avengers title, is the culmination of everything that's been accomplished in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far. Then again, these movies were always intended to be a Part 1 and 2 kind of a deal.
It's not exactly news by now, but the studio once again delivers an entertaining, touching, epic film that somehow doesn't feel as long as it is.
Below is a list of what I liked and didn't like about the movie. As always, spoilers ahead!
1) Damn, that’s satisfying!
I’m talking about the ending, of course. Few other endings in all of cinema have been as thoroughly earned and satisfactory.
It’s not just because the entire plot revolves around a walk through the past, really hammering home how many years all of this is in the making. It’s also because we’ve seen our heroes fail and live with the aftermath of that. Therefore, when they ultimately get the chance to undo it, the stakes are still high.
Not only that, but after all of this it still seems like our heroes may lose yet again. It’s only through tremendous sacrifice and tremendous loss that the good ultimately wins out.
It all adds up to a thoroughly deserved feeling of exhilaration when all these allies assemble from all corners of the universe to stand against Thanos. It’s why the look on his face when that happens, and when he watches his own allies crumble before his eyes, is so goddamn satisfying.
2) A Hero’s Send-off
Speaking of tremendous loss: Tony mothafuckin’ Stark! What a character, and what an achievement for Robert Downey Jr.
The entire MCU was started when he uttered the words, “I am Iron Man.” The world hasn’t been the same since, so it’s fitting that this is what he says during his biggest moment of bravery. As if we needed more reasons to love him, this film shows him become a wonderful father and better friend to his fellow Avengers.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s incredibly hard for me to say that Iron Man’s death is a positive in this movie. I’ve loved the character since I was a child and he’s been the centerpiece of the entire franchise for a literal decade. However, I have to tip my cap to how they executed his hero’s send-off here.
Thankfully, they are already teasing the reveal of RESCUE, with Pepper Potts donning the suit for the final showdown. We likely will see that in future phases of the MCU, possibly also in the form of their daughter Morgan. No matter what, we can rest easy knowing Tony Stark’s legacy will echo through the generations of heroes to come.
3) While we’re at it… Black Widow!
So, a part of me feels guilty for putting Iron Man’s sacrifice before Black Widow’s. Just another example of a woman’s bravery and accomplishments being overshadowed by those of a more prominent man, right? Well, not exactly.
The big reason is that there’s supposedly a Black Widow movie in development by Marvel Studios (likely set in the past), so it’s unclear if this is actually the last movie we’ll see with Scarlett Johansson in the role. RDJ, at least, seems pretty done with the Iron Man character.
However, I do not mean at all to say that Black Widow’s sacrifice isn’t just as big. Without her, Bruce Banner couldn’t have snapped everyone back into existence. Tony Stark’s sacrifice wouldn’t have even been possible. Hawkeye wouldn’t have been alive to be a father to his young kids.
More than her ending, we get to sit with the character of Natasha Romanov more in this film. We see her assume the mantle of directing the Avengers’ efforts across the universe and we feel for her when she grapples with the loss of the only family she ever knew.
4) So ends the Mad Titan
While Thanos hardly had the leading man role here that he had in last year’s Infinity War, his character was still interesting and deeply explored. He is once again captured marvelously by Josh Brolin in a stellar motion-capture performance.
Of all the great aspects of this movie, my all-time favorite moment comes when Thanos sees himself say the words, “I am... inevitable,” as they play on hologram. His look of sheer satisfaction, not only at his accomplishment, but at the objectively amazing line he delivers in that moment, is such a brilliant choice.
5) The God of Blunder
I was perhaps a bit harsh on Thor in Infinity War last year. While there were some great character moments for others in that film, I felt like every time they started to delve into Thor’s pain and defeat the film shirked it away by giving him an over-long B story about making a new axe -- one that ultimately didn’t make much difference in the end, I might add.
This film is really where that story pays off. We see the consequence of him putting off having to process his grief. He turns into a wallowing drunkard who literally has to go crying to his mommy in order to process his emotions.
Fat Thor was… interesting and comical, but what ultimately made his story more compelling was that we actually see him go through some shit as a person, not just as a superhero. A particularly telling moment is when he tearfully begs to be the one to use the gauntlet and bring everyone back. He needs to undo his failure, to make the world right so he can make himself right. It’s a powerful moment, and more interesting than anything he does in Infinity War.
That said, you can’t have this payoff for the character in Endgame without the brooding and over-confident Thor of its prequel. It balances out in a big way. Not to mention, it’ll be interesting to see where they take his character now that he’s hanging out with the Guardians of the Galaxy.
6) The passing of the shield
And I don’t just mean Falcon becoming the new Captain America.
Everything in the MCU now hinges on the newcomers to the universe. Captain Marvel, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, even Spider-Man -- all are poised to become leaders among the Avengers the next times they assemble. Not for nothing, Doctor Strange was kind of the true leader of the Avengers in these two movies, a fact I love.
Anyway, If you weren’t already in tears by the end of the movie, the credits roll and remind us all over again that the title of this movie was more than a chess reference. This is the last Avengers movie for a core cast that has helped create this movie franchise. We see their montages play behind silhouetted shots of them, the actors’ signatures scrawling along behind them. It’s a moving homage.
1) The laws of quantum physics don’t apply to Cap
Okay, so, not that I wanna get into a debate about how time travel works, but the movie makes a pretty big point of explaining how time travel DOESN’T work.
We hear Banner say that you can’t go back into the past to change things and end up in the same present, “because your former present, becomes your past.” Yet, in one of the key scenes to end the movie, we see an aged Captain America, nearing the end of a long life that he went back to live with his love Sharon. It pretty well glosses over all of the things that supposedly would have happened differently in a timeline where Captain America was a husband instead of a superhero.
So, if the rules that this movie sets apply, how is that the same Steve Rogers sitting there waiting for them on this bench? It doesn’t make a ton of sense to me, but it’s not like the logical fallacies of time travel in a superhero movie should ruin a fantasy film.
I just wish that, if they were going to address that, the writers would have addressed the seeming disparity, too. It’s a decent enough send-off for the character, though.
2) Now there’s a power imbalance!
I couldn’t help but think, during two movies now, that the Infinity Stones didn’t seem to help Thanos much in battle.
In Infinity War, the small regiment of heroes on Titan comes VERY close to beating him, despite Thanos having the Power, Space, Soul AND Reality Stones at that point. But, our heroes have to be able to at least mount a good show, so I will grant the nerfing.
But then! Endgame Thanos is STILL able to hold off even more Avengers single-handedly, including Thor and his new hammer, and Cap with Mjolnir for the first and last time. Thanos uses his own super strength and speed -- along with some quick thinking to beat OP Carol Danvers with the power stone -- and doesn't really have to use the stones.
On the one hand, it’s a testament to how powerful Thanos is, stones or no. On the other, it seems like a conceptual cop-out, especially when they keep making a point of how much benefit the stones supposedly are.
Now, I will say that no matter what, I will always applaud a feature that nails exciting combat mapping and choreography, which both films accomplished in spades.
What did you think of the movie? Did this review touch on any of your thoughts or miss some? Let us know in the comments below! Like, follow and subscribe for more content from Curbside Press.