Avengers: Endgame has been out for some months now and as late as it is I have thoughts on the film as both a standalone and as a conclusion to the MCU as we know it.
Presumably everybody has seen it by now, but for posterity sake I ought to outline the basic plot. After the events of Avengers Infinity War and Thanos snapping half of all life out out of existence, the fractured Avengers struggle to keep hope and have all but moved on when a time displaced Ant Man lets them realize the potential for time travel to affect their past and to stop Thanos. I’m not going to talk about performances or cinematography here, because these are elements that have been done to death and to which I can bring no new opinion. My focus is going to be almost entirely story based.
When I initially came out of Endgame, it was as if I had been hit in the head with a truck full of endorphins. As somebody who has grown up alongside the MCU (I am but a wee boy of 8 and 10 years) seeing Endgame be the culmination of the last 11 years of my life was unreal and is the reason I held off writing this for so long. My personal hype was too strong and I would have rated the film as high as a 9 which is not right and certainly not an unbiased review. Now though, the dust has settled and I can confidently talk about the issues with Endgame without being seduced by the film. First off, the time travel. When bringing this up to those I knew in person the first response I would get is “yeah but time travel never makes sense”. This, ladies and gentlemen, is neither a valid response nor an informed one. Time travel can make sense in films it’s just that more often than not screenwriters are far too lazy to put genuine thought into it.
Granted, one of the few occasions of time travel making sense is in the indie film Primer which, while logical, is also kind of dull and not exactly a money spinner for the average joe. The time travel not making sense is passable if they attempted to make it work, but they just threw in a haphazard, half-cocked excuse of parallel dimensions but even that excuse doesn’t function on a fundamental level. The Ancient One tells Hulk that by removing an infinity stone from its time a branching timeline is created and that only replacing the stones will erase the timeline. This is disproven however. In the film the Avengers go back to the time of 2012’s The Avengers, and while there they attempt to steal the tesseract but fail, causing Loki to escape with it. This is never revisited, and means that an alternate version of Loki is larking about the universe. This timeline cannot be erased because they have no stone to return because Loki escaped with it.
While this likely will be explained in the upcoming Loki tv series it should have been addressed in the film instead of being left as one of many loose ends. The returning of the stones to their times cannot clearly erase the alternate timelines, because if it did it would mean that none of the MCU as we have seen it should matter because barely any of it was untouched by the time travel. The Thanos they fight in the film is 2014 Thanos who ends up in the future. It is this Thanos who ends up getting snapped by Tony Stark, meaning that if Captain America returning the stones at the end restored the timelines this Thanos would never have died. Avengers Endgame must therefore take place in an alternate timeline itself, because there is no other way that 2014 Thanos could be killed without repercussions for the timeline.
The final timeline issue I will bring up is a decidedly smaller issue. When Captain America returns the stones to the past and decides to age and grow old with Peggy Carter, the shield he presents to Sam Wilson should not exist. Ostensibly, Captain America appears to go and live in the past of the MCU as we know it. This in itself is not as issue because he reappears several years after younger Cap went into the ice. This only becomes an issue however, when he presents Sam the shield. The only Vibranium in the hands of the military at the time went into making Cap’s shield. When this shield went into the ice with Cap, there was no more vibranium at hand to make another shield. This shield can’t have been the original MCU Cap’s shield because that one was in the ice and he still has it when he is thawed out in 2012. There is no other way to get vibranium except from Wakanda, and from Black Panther and the information we are given in that nobody knows about their vibranium deposits and so if Cap did go to Wakanda to get more vibranium I find it highly unlikely they would give him any. By this logic, Cap must have gone back to live in an alternate timeline which must also have had a Captain America from which old Cap procured the shield which contradicts with what we are told. There is then the issue of him and Peggy being together and her niece Sharon Carter who presumably grew up knowing about him and who he was still deciding to date the younger version of her uncle. These are my only beefs with the time travel at this moment.
My second issue was with the comedy and characterisation of certain characters. I did not like Fat Thor. He was funny for a moment, but when he is playing Fortnite and the fat gag continues for the whole film I was unimpressed and just tired of the same simplification of characters that the MCU continues to use. How and why people are still willing or able to play Fortnite 5 years into the future when half of all life is dead is also an issue. It seems like the writers didn’t think about the repercussions or the effects of the events in their own story, which is honestly just lazy.
Professor Hulk I also disliked greatly. I am tired of the Hulk being reduced to this comic relief character because the writers don’t know what to do with him or where to take him as a character. He says in the film that he has the best of both the Hulk and Banner now but we never see him do anything Hulklike. He is either smart or cringey. I don’t need to see the Hulk dab. Nobody does. Bring back Edward Norton’s Hulk. He was perfect. I don’t know why they feel like everybody wants all comedy all the time. I wish that the humour in the MCU wasn’t as cringey or as forced as most of it is. It’s as if people don’t trust the comic characters to carry stories on their own and so they feel the need to pack in cheap laughs to make sure they hit that 2 billion mark. It’s condescending and, again, it’s just lazy. I don’t mind jokes in my comic book movies, but I want them to fit the situation and to not always be there. Take Homecoming and Far from Home for example, two films with humour in them that I love. The humour is balanced and fits the films, and never once does it feel like we are substituting characters for punchlines and wacky gags (looking at you James Gunn). Furthermore, this can be expanded to the entire MCU. I am tired of Disney P̶a̶n̶d̶e̶r̶i̶n̶g̶ appealing to everybody with their cheap laughs and by the book IKEA filmmaking style. It wasn’t the average Joe Lunchpail that was supporting CBMs before they got big and cool. Disney continuously aims the MCU at the average moviegoer because it is interested in nothing but money.
Speaking of pandering, one of my biggest issues is the way that Disney packages itself as diverse and progressive when it is not. I am all for diversity. Only good things can come from varying stories from different viewpoints and experiences. I am all for diversity if done right and done naturally. The film received quite a lot of buzz for including the MCUs first openly gay character. Who was this you ask? A surprise Iceman appearance? Did Hercules debut early? No. No the “openly gay character” they touted was in fact some no name shmuck in a 30 second scene, a scene for which the Russos garnered untold praise and adoration. That is not diversity. That is tokenism. That is putting a character in that you have said is gay on the off chance it will get another demographic buying your tickets. If Disney were so progressive they would be focusing on actual characters that are gay, not changing up current ones or inserting in side characters expecting a pat on the back. It is sly, underhanded, demeaning and, coupled with the countless articles written about Disney’s greed, is anything but progressive.
The next two issues are much less political. The first one includes an issue with the return of the deceased people. Near the end of the film Professor Hulk snaps his fingers and the people vanquished by the snap are returned to the Earth. As seen in the film, this returns them to their exact position five years after they died. My first question was what about the people who were over the ocean on planes when they were returned? Far from Home answered that question. Before FFH, the main response was “maybe hulk made everyone reappear safely”. I was unwilling to accept this and FFH proved me right. In the film we see students from the school return five years later in their gym they disappeared in. This means that everybody that was in a plane when they got snapped would have been returned to the empty air and would have died. According to the light research I did, there are about 500,000 people in the air in planes at any moment in time. This means that while half of them were snapped, the half that survived may have crashed and died irreversibly without their pilots and the ones that were snapped were returned to the air to fall to a watery death.
My final big beef with this film is the sheer number of loose ends that it leaves. Black Widow’s death is never addressed, Vision is never mentioned despite assumptions he would return after Infinity War, Gamora just disappears from the film near the end and it isn’t made clear whether she got snapped or not. Loki is still about the universe somewhere, and the fact that it’s 2023 from now on in the MCU is also perplexing to me. This review is really more of a rant, and while I enjoyed Endgame at the time I see know that it is really more of a 6.5 than the 9 I originally thought. The truly great moments of the film are simply that, moments. When looking at the whole film I lean into thinking it is more bad than good, and a lot of that is down to simply lazy writing and a greedy attitude.
Oh also the only reason Ant Man escaped was because a chance rat crawled over the machine causing him to rejoin the regular realm. The entire premise is founded on a chance rat hitting the right buttons by accident.