SPOILERS AHEAD FOR AVENGERS: ENDGAME! If you haven’t watched yet you either don’t care (so why are you reading this) or.. what are you waiting for?!?!
It’s been ten days since Avengers: Endgame opened, making, literally, billions of dollars in the process. We need to have some honest discussions about what makes this movie great, and a few things that aren’t so great.
Timing Is Everything
The main structural element to the movie is time. First, it takes its time. Clocking in just a tick over three hours, the movie doesn’t rush the many developments that need to take place. And, honestly, , it doesn’t feel like three hours (as long as you stop drinking fluids a few hours before showtime and don’t need to go to the bathroom).
All the trailers turned out to be mega red herrings. What we thought were scenes leading up to the climactic battle scene for the fate of the universe was pretty much dealt with in the first few minutes. And that leads to a five year time jump.
This is key to the film for many reasons besides facilitating the plot. By jumping ahead, we see how humanity generally, and our heroes specifically, deal with loss. All Marvel films have had heart. But this film does it in spades. Captain America is in grief counseling. Tony Stark has a kid. Bruce Banner and the Hulk learn to live with each other. And Thor lets himself go. The reactions range from touching to thought provoking to visually funny. But none can be dismissed. Just as the rest of us mere mortals must do, Avengers grieve in different ways.
And also like mortals, they have trouble moving on. It is this sense of grief and failure that drives the entire movie. Not everyone gets a shot at redemption, and when it presents itself, they grab on and refuse to let go.
Time also plays a more obvious role when the Avengers have to go back to various points in time to reunite the Infinity Stones. These storylines have inspired legions of MCU fans to go back to past movies and scour them for clues. Was Thor’s mom acting different in the original film? Was Loki in possession of the Tesseract the whole time? What’s going on with Gamora?
Timing Is Off
And while all of that is great and led up to a great climactic battle that was a treat for the eyes and ears, playing with time also has its problems.
The movie ridicules previous movies about time travel, but never sets any hard and fast rules for its own journeys. And the rules it strongly implies are broken on the regular. Phil Owen at The Wrap wraps his head around it much better than I can. His points are all valid. Captain America’s ending is heart warming when you’re in the theater, but makes no sense when you start to think about his core values.
And while it’s awesome to get to see Thanos die twice, the writing borders on losing its time continuity during his second (first?) go around as well.
Who Didn’t See This Coming
There are also a couple of times when foreshadowing cast a long, predictable shadow over Endgame.
The movie opens with the long-absent Hawkeye enjoying house arrest and barbequing with his family. I turned to my fellow critic and said they’re gonna disappear. Moments later, poof! They’re gone!
When we meet Tony’s daughter, I knew that he would make the choice to sacrifice himself so his daughter could live. Doctor Strange confirmed it during the epic battle.
But despite the inconsistencies of time travel, blatant foreshadowing, and even the betrayal of Steve Rogers’ core values, this is an awesome movie!
The battle scene is incredibly well shot. The emergence of the heroes purged by Thanos 1.0 stirs your heart. The fight for Gauntlet 2.0 has you shifting in your seat every time it changes hands (get it? changing hands? sorry) It was like a well lit Battle of Winterfell!
And even in the heat of battle, humanity and heart shines through (I’m looking at you, Peter Parker and Tony Stark). And in the end, that’s what these stories are about: the idea that humanity can be found anywhere in the galaxy, but it starts by finding it in our own heart.
There are many reasons to watch this again, but I can’t wait for it to stream so I can freeze Tony’s memorial and get a look at everyone who they invited back. I mean, even the kid from Iron Man 3 is there. I guess he had nothing else going on.
The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation
The Thanos Infinity Gauntlet Inception Bomb. It’s light and fruity, and when you’re finished you just snap your fingers and the server will bring you another!