1.2 billion dollars in just five days shows that the final movie in this phase of the MCU was perhaps the most anticipated film in the entire franchise, but does that prove that no amount of money buys a perfect movie?
The fan-pleasing Easter egg superhero movie is a masterpiece in production. To try to bring so many loose ends together, end character arcs and defeat the inevitable was never going to be easy, so something had to give, but did the end justify the means, and did the writers sacrifice certain aspects of the story to please fans and create water cooler moments?
First of all, SPOILERS. Stop reading if you have yet to see the movie.
Now, let’s get the biggies out of the way.
Thor has indeed become the go-to joke of the MCU and after Ragnarok the writers have continued to reduce the God Of Thunder to a comedy character, taking pleasure in demeaning him. After the opening scene, Thor resides in New Asgard as a fat, beer-drinking gamer, content to play online with his alien buddies, and the only thing missing was a scene showing them high and ordering pizza. As a Thor fan, I felt that this comedy element was a step too far. Even by the end of the film, he hands the reigns over to Valkyrie while he becomes a foil for Peter and the Guardians. A weak send-off for such an icon.
Meanwhile, another major player seems to have been ret-conned for the new film. The Hulk is now professor Hulk, a green giant with the intellect of Bruce Banner, who comes across as a bit narcissistic. It’s a jarring proposal that is thrown away with a few lines of dialogue and feels inconsistent with the character’s arc through the previous films. Yes, five years have passed and we don’t really know what has happened in those years, but it seems shoehorned in and underdeveloped.
The death of Black Widow is another problem for me, and one that seems to have been included as a WOW moment, but thinking back, it comes across as cheap. First of all, sending Natasha and Clint together, to go to an alien world, seems weird. They have never done this kind of thing before, so why send them there? They could have done a better job going for the Tesseract on Earth, but narrative-wise that would not have worked, as we need Cap and Tony to have their moments with people from their past. Widow’s death is a dramatic moment but is only included to help the writers get a shock from the audience. On top of this, if they bring Natasha back from the dead, it will cheapen the whole movie retroactively. Perhaps if they wanted to kill anyone, Hawkeye makes more sense, as he has less back story, he has become a death-dealing vigilante, and we see him training his daughter to foreshadow a new Hawkeye anyway.
Finally, the whole timey-wimey aspect of the story, although necessary, is a get-out-of-jail-free card for the writers, that seems more designed to showcase the Marvel franchise rather than tell an interesting story. With a bit more thought, there could have been other ways the film could have gone, but time travel allows the filmmakers all kinds of artistic license and hopefully, the fans will be so blown away looking for Easter Eggs that they will forget that the plot is quite thin and weak.
Acknowledged in the script, we see the writers know they are retreading so many other films, in a meta piece of exposition that tries to justify their decision, but was it lazy writing, brought about by the impossible task of ending this current phase? Just like you, I fanboy-ed out at the time travel scenes, but does it work at the expense of the story?
There must have been a dozen different ideas to bring this conclusion to the story, and it must have been difficult to finally decide on this version, but for me, I may have been more excited if they had taken a less cliche-worn path.
Avengers: Endgame is a thrill ride for fans, and I loved the experience of watching it. There are moments of brilliance, including Tony’s sacrifice, Cap’s romantic sacrifice and wielding Mjolnir in the final epic battle, but after the dust has settled and we have time to process what we have seen, there are points that may become contentious on repeat viewings.
Essentially, on first viewing, this film does what we want it to, but underneath it all we get a bad time travel story, done a hundred times before, and including all the tropes that you would expect in such a script. Meet your parents, see your lost love, turn into a baby, then an old man, meet your self, arrive in your own timeline, change the past to secure the future, etc, etc. And yet Doctor Who not mentioned once. Nebula must have been seething.