I’ve thought a lot about Avengers: Endgame for a movie I didn’t really like. I saw it at a Thursday night screening, and coming out of the theater, there is no question that I was disappointed. But in the days since, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the movie. I think it’s because I went in with such high expectations – Infinity War is an incredible film and cinematic achievement. It has a well-paced story with character developments and arcs that make sense, it is visually stunning, and it is compelling. These things are all true of it as a standalone film.
The problem is, I can’t say the same thing for Endgame. I had huge problems with the pacing (it’s overlong and it seems too much like three distinct sections instead of one unified story), while some of the character development was great, others were almost downright bad, it didn’t do anything visually impressive (the final battle seems very generic, and worst of all, completely unsaturated with any sort of interesting color), and once the plot kicks into gear, I don’t find it to be very compelling. In fact, it was often confusing at the expense of the film’s overall quality.
Now, I want to add a disclaimer in here: I think there are tons of things to love in here. This movie is a collection of hundreds of great moments that come together to make a mediocre movie. It’s missing that glue that makes it feel like a logical and cohesive story. There were multiple times that I laughed out loud and witnessed something happen that I thought was awesome, but I still felt disconnected from the story as a whole.
It was about halfway through that I realized I didn’t really like the movie I was watching. I thought, “This is what I’ve been waiting a year for? This isn’t some epic conclusion…” This feeling largely came from the annoyingly confusing and yada yada’d save-the-world plan that the Avengers come up with. It’s a plan that allowed for lots of small character moments, but which also created some huge inconsistencies plot-wise that cannot and should not be swept under the rug because of the spectacle of the story.
One thing I do give the movie props for, though, is how different it is from Infinity War. They don’t feel like part one and two, but like two separate movies. One specific way is in the fact that they get their sense of spectacle from two different places. Infinity War gets it from the big, exciting action set pieces, while Endgame gets it from the fact that it is wrapping up 11 years of movies. And that is the biggest hurdle for me to jump over as I’m evaluating this movie.
I don’t think that Endgame stands very well as its own film. It relies so heavily on what’s come before. So many of the emotional character moments are paying off plot threads from years ago, and not that character’s arc in this specific film. I don’t think that’s inherently a bad thing. Because after all, the MCU is something completely different from anything we’ve ever seen cinematically. It has to tie up all these threads in satisfying ways, and it does! Like I said, there was a lot in the movie that I liked. But they are only satisfying because of what’s come before, and that really trips me up.
This might be a case of me not wanting to adapt to this new form of cinematic storytelling, or it may even be the inability to do so at this point in time. But that’s just where I’m at right now. I’ve never been any more into these Avengers movies than I have any other movies, so I don’t feel that undying love for the characters (though the emotional moments still do hit, they just don’t hit in the way they were intended to). Out of the 22 films in the MCU, there are only four that I love. I really like some of the others and appreciate them as movies, and I recognize and am floored by the way they have weaved together this interconnected universe, but there’s nothing extra special about them to me as individual films (save for the Guardians of the Galaxy films, which are on a whole other level).
Maybe the problem here is that superhero movies just aren’t made for me. I’ve been telling people since I saw this movie that I can see why they love it, but I just don’t. In five or ten years or so, when the MCU hype has died down and people have moved onto other franchises, I can see Endgame remembered as entertainment at the highest level, a vehicle to bring people together, and an incomparable cinematic achievement. It just won’t be remembered as a great, self-contained film.