Avengers: Endgame successfully tied-up 11 years of Marvel story lines into a neat package. It was appropriately sentimental and nostalgic and it provided the closure fans were expecting.
But did it blow me away? No.
Here’s my quick, no-spoiler reaction. Scroll down for my full review.
If you read beyond this point, there will be spoilers!
The beginning of the movie gets right to the action as the remaining Avengers come together with Captain Marvel to find Thanos, get the stones, and undo the snap. Naturally, that doesn’t go as planned (or else we wouldn’t have a movie).
After that initial bit of action, I thought the first third of the movie was borderline boring. We have a five-year time jump which focused too much on the sad state of the world. I’m not convinced a world that lost half of all life would necessarily look so apocalyptic after five years.
In a nutshell: a rat saved the universe
Can we talk about the fact that it was a rat who essentially saved the universe? Ant-Man is stuck in the quantum realm for those five years (which was just a few hours for him) until a rat happens to run over the controls of his abandoned time-machine van and press a button to pull Scott Lang out.
That gets us into the meat of the movie. Most of the Avengers are sorta moving on. Hulk and Iron Man are even pretty happy with their lives. I loved the new “halfway” Hulk – I wish they had done this with his character sooner! I also loved seeing Tony, Pepper and their daughter living happily by the lake.
But it’s only been hours for Ant-Man, and he’s got ideas about getting the Infinity Stones back. The Avengers visit Tony to talk about Scott’s quantum realm time-travel ideas, but he’s not sure he wants to risk what he has.
That familiar Marvel humor
I was happy to see the tone of the movie shift in the second act. We get humor, nostalgia, and some truly amazing scenes cut into older MCU footage. And most importantly, the story made sense.
First and foremost, we have Fat Thor. For me, he was the best part of the movie and I really need more of him. (It would be awesome to see him in Guardians of the Galaxy 3!)
Then we have the OG Avengers time-traveling to gather the Infinity Stones. Yes, it’s time-travel – arguably one of the easiest ways out for a writer. But Endgame handled it with perfection.
Not only did the Hulk tell us that everything we think we know about time travel from the movies (shout out to my favorite, “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure”) is wrong, but we got to see the current Avengers revisiting many of their old adventures:
- Hulk half-heartedly smashing a car from the original Avengers battle in NYC.
- Fat Thor getting to see his mother again.
- War Machine and Nebula watching Peter Quill dance around, listening to his Walkman.
- Iron Man chatting it up with his Dad about becoming a father.
- Cap fighting future Cap (“I could do this all day.” “I know.”), but he thinks it’s Loki.
- Tony’s diversion to get the Tesseract from S.H.I.E.L.D/Hydra, which resulted in Loki grabbing it. I hope that’s going to be a future story somewhere in the MCU! I really wanted to see Loki confirmed alive at the end of this movie, but we didn’t get that.
It was freaking fantastic.
The only thing I didn’t like about this part of the movie was too much Hawkeye and not enough Captain Marvel. (I wasn’t a fan of her God-like attitude of “Well, I’ve got the entire universe to look after.”)
Thanos isn’t done yet
They succeed in getting the stones from the past, but there’s a surprising twist (thankfully!). Somehow Nebula’s circuits get mixed up and Thanos ends up seeing some of her memories from the alternate Nebula in the future.
He discovers that his ultimate plan to eliminate half the universe doesn’t really work out the way he thought it would. And he sets out to fix it.
With the help of an undercover Nebula, Thanos makes his way to the future and the battle begins.
I think the final, big battle suffered from just having too much going on. I wanted that one, big YESSS moment. The movie comes close when Dr. Strange portals everyone in to fight, but it was still a bit lacking for me because we didn’t get long enough to focus on any one character. It was a cacophony of cameos and “Oh, there’s that character!” without really pulling me in emotionally.
Though I did come close to tearing up when Spider-Man and Iron Man reunited.
I would have liked it more if they took five minutes from the beginning of the movie and put it toward the battle to slow things down a bit and focus more on the characters.
I also didn’t think the actual imagery of the battle was that good – it was just a lot of dirt and rubble being blown around.
And finally, there was not nearly enough death for me. I’ve talked before on my podcast about how I’m a big fan of death in movies and TV. I think it’s necessary, realistic, and moves the story along.
I expected more than the two deaths we got in this movie. I completely expected Iron Man to die and I think it was handled beautifully. Black Widow’s death was a surprise, but I wasn’t emotionally invested in her character enough for it to really hit me hard.
Captain America’s resolution and ultimate exit from the Avengers was sweet and satisfying, but expected. But is anyone else confused about Falcon getting Cap’s shield? Why not Bucky?
And how satisfying was it to see Thanos turn to dust?
Final thoughts on Avengers: Endgame
This review is critical, but overall I really enjoyed Endgame. The story was solid, it paid tribute to almost every character that ever meant anything in the MCU, and the acting was as good as it always is.
And I’m extremely happy that the Thanos snap wasn’t simply “undone” through time travel. Everyone is back and they all remember. It’s a fitting end to an era of Marvel movies: We’ve been through a lot and we’ll always remember.
What will happen in the future MCU?
Spider-Man: Far From Home is the next MCU movie scheduled for release on July 2, 2019. We have heard that it’s supposed to be set just minutes after Endgame wraps up.
We know we’ll see Peter Parker back in school with several of the same friends. But… it’s five years later. The working theory is that a lot of Peter’s friends – including Ned and MJ, who are seen in the trailer – were also dusted. They’ll be the same age, even though it’s five years later.
In the upcoming movie, Spider-Man will take a European vacation with his friends. But no superhero ever really takes a vacation. He’ll encounter the villain Mysterio, a frequent foe in the comics.
Beyond that, we don’t know much of anything the MCU has planned for movies. But there have been some announcements of limited-run TV series that will air on the Disney+ streaming service. It will be exciting to follow all the new announcements and stories!