This time last year, we were all experiencing the immense culmination of 11 years of buildup — the hype for Avengers: Endgame was through the roof!
Its trailers broke the Internet. Ticket sales broke it even further. And when it released, it had the biggest opening weekend of all-time, by far. Reviews were superb, and the vast majority of fans walked out speechless (including most of us in the Matrix).
I, for one, was a bit disappointed.
The movie is not bad by any stretch of the imagination. It’s a really solid film with many great moments sprinkled throughout, especially the portal scene that instantly became one of the most iconic scenes of all time.
But the more I thought about Endgame, the more my disappointment grew and the reasons became increasingly obvious.
While the character work was spectacular, it was lacking on pretty much all other fronts. Here’s why…
Characters Don’t Make The Story
The film does the one thing it has to do, and does it extremely well. The film wrapped up 11 years of storytelling and finish certain character’s arcs.
However, it seems so focused on this task that it forgets to tell a compelling narrative in the sense that majority of this film has little conflict. In Infinity War, the presence of Thanos looms over everything, things constantly go wrong and time is consistently running out.
Endgame completely lacks that sense of urgency and not because they killed Thanos at the start, but because everything goes right for our heroes.
During preparation of the time-heist, there are no wrenches in the plan. Everything went right. There are no flaws with the suits; they just get “made.” There’s little conflict in the actual heist as they go back in time, grab the stones, and leave. Because of this, Hulk’s snap doesn’t really feel earned.
Even by the time something major happens and young Thanos discovers the plan, he is so far separated from the other Avengers that he poses no looming threat with impact on them at all. The Avengers don’t even know he exists.
So, by the time the third act rolls around…sure, it’s amazing to behold, but the emotional tension that was present throughout Infinity War is gone. This leaves the final, epic battle more bland than it should’ve been. Only our heroes keep this scene afloat instead of the conflict itself.
The writers of this film have written some of the best MCU films to date, so I know they were capable of telling a story without any of these issues. The underwhelming issue of Endgame runs deeper than that.
It Should’ve Been Five Hours
Before you say anything, I know this would be impossible to fathom in today’s cinematic world, but I believe it’s how long the movie should’ve been to tell same story, but more effectively.
An additional two hours allows for things to go wrong, which would create more tension and conflict. Imagine if the Avengers were prepping the suits for the heist, discover a major flaw in the design, but didn’t have the time or the resources to solve it, then have to go through with the plan anyway. Instantly, there is so much added tension and more things could happen (wrong) during the heist.
This would have added much more to the heists than just grabbing the stone, talking to an old mentor, and leaving. Because of how it’s written, there’s no struggle to get the stones, which in turn (as I said earlier), makes the snap to bring everyone back feel a bit unearned.
On top of that, there’s nothing happening in the base timeline to increase the tension. There’s no time limit on when they need to bring everyone back. They can go at their own pace. They don’t even know Thanos is only a few steps behind them.
Where’s the tension?!
The reason the movie works so well is because we’ve had 11 years of investment into these characters and care for them deeply. As a standalone story, Endgame provides no external driving force pressuring these characters to complete their task.
Surprisingly Small Scale
Endgame was smaller in scale than people initially expected, which is a good thing. We are afforded the opportunity to feel the guilt that weighs on our heroes’ shoulders. The thing is, the world around them seems to put no blame on them whatsoever.
The Avengers failed, half of the universe was wiped from existence, and the world still treats them like…heroes?
Marvel missed a big opportunity to show us how the perception of the Avengers changed after the events of Infinity War. That is something that could’ve been extremely interesting and added pressure mounted on them to bring everyone back.
Even if they decided to not to go that route, showing more on how the larger world is coping with this situation could have given this film that extra punch that it really needed, whether fans saw that during their first viewing time or not.
Just to reiterate, Avengers: Endgame is by no means a bad film, but it does have quite a few shortcomings that prevent it from being a great one.