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Avengers: Endgame Movie Review (SPOILERS!)

So, I'm writing this hours after seeing Avengers: Endgame.

I'm fine.

Okay, I'm not fine.

I should say right now that I don't think it's possible to do an in-depth spoiler-free review of this film. Because Endgame is full of surprises, which extend even to the fundamental structure of the plot, I think that it's much better to go in knowing absolutely nothing in advance, if possible.

So, some very brief, spoiler-free thoughts: Endgame is not perfect, but it's pretty darn close, in my opinion. Movies that serve as final installments of multi-film series are especially prone to disappoint fans. In light of that, Endgame is astonishingly good. I can see why the majority of Marvel fans seem to have embraced it, though obviously, pleasing everyone isn't possible. Despite a few minor niggles, which I'll delve into later on, I was extremely impressed by the film.

Now, for the spoilers.

I cannot stress this highly enough–if you have not seen Endgame, Do. Not. Read. Further. Trust me. You'll thank me later.

If I shared all my thoughts about the movie, this review would end up far too lengthy, and I'd rather not have this be a multi-part series–though I could see myself writing further posts addressing specific aspects of Endgame in the future. Also, in order to avoid spoilers before seeing the movie, I haven't read a lot of reviews that have already been posted for Endgame, so I'll probably end up repeating what a lot of other people have said if I let myself ramble. As such, I'm going to keep things fairly brief here.

What I Liked

The story structure of this movie is brilliant. The very short first act takes any expectations you might have gotten from the trailers and throws them out the window, similar to what Infinity War did with Loki's surprise death in the opening scene. The five-year time jump was a nice touch, as it didn't cheapen the impact of what happened in Infinity War by having the solution of the Snap take place less than a month after the events of the previous movie. Although the time-travel solution was a fairly obvious direction for the second act to take, I didn't find it disappointing at all because of how it was handled. The specific method of time travel used in the movie—the many-worlds/branching-realities theory—isn't used very often, and it was employed brilliantly here. Though the science got little complicated, I appreciated this overall, as it shows the writers weren't underestimating the intelligence of their audience. In addition, the past wasn't actually changed, since the Snap and the five dark years afterward remained intact, which meant that this wasn't a reset button. The particular theory of time travel used here means that the various timey-wimey shenanigans we see in the second act don't really alter any Marvel films you seen before—all those scenes technically took place in other realities. (Granted, some of this could have been explained more clearly, which I'll get into later on.)

The final act, featuring a staggeringly massive battle against the time-displaced Thanos, was a stroke of genius, as it helped to prevent the time travel coming across as a convenient gimmick. On the contrary, Thanos' return was a direct consequence of the time travel. I can't say enough good things about the breathtaking cinematography of that final brawl between the Avengers and the forces of the Mad Titan. Not only was it amazing seeing just about every MCU character ever getting in on the action, the menace of Thanos was reinforced once again, not downgraded to allow for a happy ending. In a way, the Avengers never really “beat” Thanos, at least not by mere muscle or firepower. It took subterfuge and a massive sacrifice from Tony Stark to bring him down, which meant that even at the very end, Thanos never lost his menace. I think it's always better when the audience's reaction to a villain's demise is “Whew, he's finally dead” rather than “Huh, I guess he was never really that tough to begin with.”

While I'm sure not everyone will agree with me on this, I do feel that Endgame was a near-perfect resolution to all the major character arcs that have been building since the very beginning of the MCU. I left the theater feeling very satisfied by this element. Don't get me wrong—I really, really miss Tony and Natasha, and I'm sorry (in a good way) that Cap's story has come to an a close. But I didn't want this story to end without consequences. That would have been highly disappointing. While it was hard to watch Tony and Natasha giving up their lives, it was completely in-character for both of them, and it felt earned based on stakes that had been set up in Infinity War. Plus, we got a happy ending for Cap to balance out the sadder moments.

We have to talk about Peggy Carter, who remains one of my favorite MCU characters of all time. I love how she was used in Endgame, even if she didn't get much screen time. Seeing her and Steve finally reunited was the perfect note to end the movie (and this entire era of the MCU) on, in my opinion—time-travel complications aside. Also, the appearance of James D'Arcy as Jarvis in the 1970 sequence was a beautiful nod to the canceled-too-soon Agent Carter TV series. Hats off to the Russo brothers for being so thoughtful as to include this moment.

One other thing: though the big team-up of the female Avengers during the final battle could be described as a little obvious and agenda-driven, I didn't really see it that way. With the possible exception of Captain Marvel, I was excited to see all these characters get their time in the spotlight. But I was even more pleased by Scarlet Witch's big moment versus Thanos, since I've wanted to see her embrace the full range of her powers for a long time now. I hope that she and Wasp both have bigger roles to play in the MCU in future.

What I Didn't Like

I don't think the writers did a good enough job explaining the time travel in Endgame. There are too many questions and loose ends regarding this plot element left over by the end. Yes, there are good answers to pretty much all the questions, but we've gotten those answers through interviews with the producers, not within the movie itself. I think this could have been handled better, especially given the film's extended runtime. Mainly, I would have liked for it to have been made clearer that the Avengers' visits to the past didn't actually change the prior MCU movies, as this is something that a lot of fans might worry about regardless of how much they may have enjoyed the time-travel sequences.

I'm still not sold on Captain Marvel as a character, and I don't feel that she added very much to the film. That said, I'm glad to see that she wasn't used as a deus ex machina, as many had theorized she would be based on her power levels and the implications of Infinity War's post-credit scene. Her presence wasn't detrimental to the movie, but she also didn't win me over. Granted, I say this not having seen Captain Marvel yet, so I'm open to having my mind changed once I've gotten a proper introduction to Carol Danvers.

I have mixed feelings about the handling of Thor in Endgame. On the one hand, I'm one of the people who particularly liked the more “iconic,” Norse-mythology-influenced Thor we saw in the first two Thor films. (Yes, I did enjoy Thor 2, though I'll admit it has significant problems.) On the other hand, Thor: Ragnarok is one of my favorite MCU movies, and I'm happy that the new comedic take on the character has essentially given Thor a new lease on life, since Chris Hemsworth has begun to embrace more comedy-heavy roles than stock action heroes. I imagine he probably wouldn't have signed on for a new Marvel contract (as is rumored to be the case) had the powers-that-be not decided to take his character in a fresh direction. Even though Thor being a punchline more often than not isn't necessarily what I would always prefer, if that's what it takes to get more of the character in the MCU, that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make. Also, though I would probably have opted for Thor to go down a darker, more murderous path as a result of his mistakes instead of falling apart and becoming an alcoholic, Hawkeye filled the “dark avenger” slot quite brilliantly, so I wouldn't have wanted to change that. Essentially, each character dealt with grief and guilt in a different way. They couldn't all be as gracious about it as Captain America.

Closing Thoughts

I suppose my biggest “complaint” about Endgame is that really does feel more like an end to the MCU than a new beginning. This is a double-edged sword. While Endgame does sow a few seeds for a new phase of Marvel films, I don't really see how anything can top the amazing arc that's been built up and concluded over the course of the first three phases of the universe. And I'm not particularly enthusiastic about any of the Marvel projects currently in development, except for Doctor Strange 2 (particularly if that movie adds Wanda as a supporting character, which needs to happen). The Eternals and Shang-Chi don't really pique my interest. I had some serious issues with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, so even the addition of Thor to the Guardians roster isn't quite enough to make me eager to see a James-Gunn-helmed Guardians 3. (I'd much rather see a Thor 4 directed by Taika Waititi, but that movie is just a vague rumor at present.) Though there are a lot of surviving/still-active MCU characters I'd like to see more of, I don't know if my investment in this universe is ever really going to match the levels it reached during the Whedon and Russo years. For the moment at least, I can't say I'm looking forward to a new roster of Avengers. Even if some of the members are characters I enjoyed watching in Phases 1-3, it won't quite be the same. I think I'd prefer for the MCU to draw to a close at this point instead. But movie studios, Disney in particular, are not very good at allowing things to come to a graceful end instead of milking them for more cash, so I'm well-aware that the MCU won't be allowed to rest in peace. I'll admit that some of those Marvel streaming shows on Disney+ do look pretty interesting. I may end up following those more than the movies in future.

None of this, however, is really a criticism of Endgame. I don't know how successful the MCU is going to be from here on out, after reaching such heights, but I'm ultimately glad that this movie seems more like a final chapter than a changing of the guard. I wouldn't have wanted to feel that the original Avengers were getting pushed out in favor of new, less-familiar characters, and Endgame definitely doesn't give that impression. I expect many share my opinion that it's a deeply emotional experience watching this era of the Marvel Cinematic Universe draw to a close. I'm sad that it had to end, but since it did, I'm very happy that it got such a stylish and satisfying ending.

What are your thoughts on Endgame? Share them in the comments below!

Comments (14)

I think you’ll like Captain Marvel better in her own movie. It’s not a great film (the feminist message feels forced in at odd angles sometimes), but she gets more quiet and humorous moments for her personality to shine instead of being all tough-girl in every scene.

That does sound like a better vehicle for her. At this point, I feel like I don’t really know what sets her apart yet. I am looking forward to seeing her movie, though, feminist preachiness aside.

Honestly, I am probably never going to see Captain Marvel. I literally don’t care. I minorly care about the cat. That’s it. And I can get gifs of his ginger beauty all over the internet.

White Fang cried more than I did in the cinema. I only lost it twice. He was in round 4 even before we hit the climatic battle.

There was a whole lot I really liked about this, where Infinity War had a lot of grumblings from me. The ending was fitting, I felt, and while Tony and Natasha are losses, it works. (In fact, I’ve been saying for years that these two would be great sacrificial lambs, since they started out hardly as superhero material, and had to earn the respect and love of their colleagues. It makes for a more satisfying arc, than to see someone you always thought would take the fall do so.)

I didn’t get nitpicky about the time travel strategy; it did work with the premise, and in my view it created some of the most beautiful moments of the film. While it’s not completely flawless, it’s not worth getting irked about, I believed.

Disney can…insert bad words here… 😉 …when it comes to messing with the MCU. I have lost pretty much all confidence in Disney Studios, unfortunately, and I will not be eagerly following any developments they make on new movies or series or existing franchises they’ve acquired. (Anybody remember that phrase “Too big to fail”?…)

Overall, though, I agree that this is a conclusion that gives fans plenty of warm fuzzies, and that is so, so great. Stan Lee will be smiling.

I agree, both Tony and Natasha’s arcs ended where they should.

I’d recommend Captain Marvel, if you have time! She’s surprisingly goofy, and the cat’s pretty cool 🙂 I thought it’d be a bland, ‘girl power’ movie and only saw it because of Endgame, but it felt like one of the early Marvel origin stories, and Carol’s personality was pretty endearing (though that definitely doesn’t come across in the promos).

I agree, I think he would be very satisfied! But yeah, I don’t have any confidence in Disney Studios either. The MCU was one of the last pop-culture things I actually cared about, and now that we have this very solid run of twenty-something movies, I don’t know if I want to pursue it any further. Which is why I’m so glad that this really did feel like an ending, because it’s probably going to be the end for me. I’ve made the mistake of banking on nostalgia in the past with stuff like this; for example, when a TV series I love does another season even though everybody knows it’s run its course. So I’d prefer not to be disappointed by seeing the characters who are still around get ruined in some way. Really, at this point, with Star Wars on shaky ground and the Doctor Who TV series still fumbling with dumb, politically-charged storylines, the only thing I’m really invested in is Doctor Who audio dramas. *shrug* I can live with that. More time to write.

Also, I agree, it was really interesting that in the end, the two characters who were the obvious sacrifice choices–Cap and Hawkeye–were swapped out for characters we weren’t quite expecting to see die. I figured that Tony’s family would serve as a convenient means to keep him alive and out of the MCU in future, and that Natasha was bound to come back because of her solo movie, but the movie completely pulled the rug out from under me in a way that still somehow worked.

I agree, the way they set up Natasha’s exit was very unexpected. I think that made it much more poignant than if it was during the deciding moment of a big battle or something where we’d expect it more. Especially since Hawkeye was the only one to witness her death – but also that she was doing it for him – since I have totally, totally loved their BFF connection from the start, I thought that was just beautiful.

I loved Captain Marvel in her own movie (much to my surprise- I did NOT have high expectations, but it felt like a normal, fun superhero movie. I didn’t see forced feminism, except maybe for one moment; it was just an origin story with a female lead. I’d be curious about your thoughts when you watch it, though). That being said, I’m worried about her role overall in the MCU; she’s so powerful that I don’t know what could threaten to her. But thankfully, that didn’t affect Endgame.

And boy, was Endgame good. I agree with you–although it wasn’t completely perfect, it was a great ending to the main characters’ stories. And I’m personally glad it felt more like an end, and didn’t set up the next era of Marvel too much. The focus on giving the original characters their own final story was much appreciated. I can see where it would be a bit of a disappointment, though, when you’re

I loved the culmination of so many relationships in Endgame- from the obvious ones like Pepper/Tony and Steve/Peggy, to the more subtle ways that Steve and Bucky understood each other at the end, and the passing of the shield to Sam. And finally, I LOVED Clint and Natasha’s friendship. I loved how well they worked together, and how well they understood each other.

I can’t think of a better way the Russos could have closed out this era of Marvel.
I’ll be posting more of my thoughts on my blog Sunday, but those were my biggest impressions 🙂 I’m glad you liked it, too!

I’ve heard enough people say that Captain Marvel was surprisingly good that I’m definitely going to give it a try. When I do, I’ll probably review it as well. The bland promos really turned me off, but I’m getting the impression that they didn’t depict the full range of her characterization. And at least Endgame did show her getting defeated a couple of times, even if it took an Infinity Stone to do it. (That was a pretty cool scene, actually.) And I agree, the relationship arcs were really what made this movie soar, in the end. So beautiful.

I’m glad you liked my review, and I look forward to reading yours!

Curious what your major issues were with Guardians 2? Somehow, the Guardains movies just seem to me like something you would love, probably because the endless banter reminds me a bit of the banter in your books.

I loved the banter in Guardians 1, which remains one of my favorite MCU films, but about 80% of the humor in Guardians 2 fell flat for me. It was too childish and over-the-top, in my opinion. And I thought the plot was kind of a mess. That said, Ego was a refreshingly clever villain, and the emotional payoff at the end of the film was very moving.

ENDGAME WAS INCREDIBLE. I’d agree with pretty much all of your review, too. I’m unsure how I feel about Thor, and mostly not too irked with any time travel complications (although there are a couple places they should’ve cleared it up, I agree).

Mostly I’m too broken up by all the bittersweet feels. <//3 The core heroes all got such a great ending to their arcs! (Especially Cap!) And that battle scene was ALL KINDS OF EPIC. Gah. I want to see it in theaters a second time!

Me too!! I’m really glad I made the effort to see it on the big screen at least once, even though the closest theater isn’t exactly a short drive for me. Failing another visit to the cinema, I will definitely be rewatching the heck out of it once I get it on Blu-Ray.

Well, I suppose my hopes in Endgame have been somewhat lifted. However, I still think I’m going to wait until its been out on Netflix a while to even attempt a viewing.
I was dreadfully disappointed in Infinity War; way overhyped, felt like maybe ten minutes of plot and made me want to have a marathon of LOTR, extended editions, to make up for it. On the plus side me and my sibs were laughing for a majority of the movie (mostly cuz of our snarky comments/calling everything the characters were going to say/do before they did it). 😛

What kind of darker possibility did you see for Thor?? I think he might have kept trying to go after Thanos, possibly becoming mentally twisted enough that he’d try to harm any friends that tried to stop him (though why would they do that?). But I can’t really see him doing anything darker than that…
Loki, on the other hand; him I can definitely see going down a darker path than the one he’s already on (or was on? Still not sold on his death, even in an alternate timeline :P).

Yeah, I doubt Loki is dead. XD I guess I envisioned Thor as taking on more of a “war god” role, shifting away from humanity and embracing his Asgardian destiny more fully. That would have fit with various comic arcs I’ve read in which bad stuff went down and he adapted to a darker state of affairs. But I’ve heard some good arguments in defense of Endgame’s characterization of him, even if I don’t agree with all of them.

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