This article was originally published on May 18, 2019 on Cinephile's former website.
There are times when I wish I wasn't a filmmaker and storyteller. Sometimes I wish I could be a naive fan of movies and just love whatever is displayed in front of me. Last night, after weeks of dodging spoilers, I finally went to experience the final chapter of Avengers Endgame.
Truthfully I went with expectation that however the story was told that I would love it, that the film would be entertaining and above all else be a great stamp to end the last decade of a cinematic universe I've grown fond of. I admit I was arrogant in thinking that this film would only be good and boy was I wrong.
I know many of my friends will not share my opinion, because so many of them have already expressed their shock that I hadn't already gone to see the film, and I also know many other people I don't know will be offended by the mere fact that I don't share the idea that this film is the best thing ever. However, as a fan of the MCU, I am sharing my viewpoint to why this movie did not work for me.
Avengers Endgame portrays itself to be a heist/time travel epic, but all we got again was a stone hunting film we already witnessed in Infinity War, 2018, and the filmmakers failed at defining the rules of time travel which left everything hazy and unclear.
The story and character motivation was also jarring like 1) When Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanoff and Scott Lang visits Tony Stark at his new home and life in the woods and they pose the question of time travel, Tony Stark is adamant that time travel cannot work and is too complicated to even try and tackle, then a few scenes later Stark easily finds the solution to time travel. I was left wondering why did they make a big deal out of something then make the solution, with no explanation, seem so small? 2) Why didn't Clint and Natasha know that something had to be sacrificed on Vormir? Nebula was in the room when plans were being made and she told of how Thanos killed Gamora to retrieve the stone, so why wouldn't that be disclosed to them? Also Natasha sacrificing herself on Vormir goes against the rules of retrieving the soul stone. The rule established in Infinity War is that the person seeking the stone must give up what they love the most. So Natasha kicking herself off the side of the mountain says she loved herself the most? The sacrifice should've never been accepted according to the rules established in the film, but it was and her death was treated as a side note, when in reality Black Widow was one of the best characters in the MCU and an original Avenger. At that point in the film I knew I could no longer trust the filmmakers who are telling this story, because they were willing to let anything happen just to move the story forward.
I found it to be the most evident in the treatment of Thor. Over the years Thor has had some of the best character development, he's gone through the most change, and I've grown fond of him embracing his kingship and understanding his power and purpose for existing. So I qualm with the fact that Thor was turned into an overweight drunk, who never uses his full power again. We saw it in Thor Ragnarok, 2017, and in Infinity War, you cannot introduce things about a character and when crisis arise try to convince an already invested audience that Thor could not perform the snap with the gauntlet? He took on the blast from a star, he can summon the bifrost, extremely high wattage of lightening runs through his body, but the Hulk (who is powerful) was the one for the job? Also when Thanos comes to earth we have to believe that Thor couldn't immediately kill an infinity stone-less Thanos with one swing of his axe? When he already proved that he can kill Thanos easily. Thor beheading Thanos at the beginning of the film was the most satisfying moment in the film and then by the end of it all Thor hands his kingdom over to Valkyrie. What?!
I know a new era of superheroes are coming in and I know Hollywood needs to send the rest of us ignorant people in the world a message that we need to make room for girl power and female super hero domination. I guess I should've applauded at the "She's not alone" on steroids moment in the film, but I didn't because I knew what it was all about. Let me give just an insert here, the problem with not having enough representation in movies and not being paid and all that mumbo jumbo is not the spectators issue it's an issue inside of Hollywood, we the audience go to watch whatever we choose and hope to be entrained, so take it up with your HR and leave us out of it. Back to the review...
After the return of all who were once snapped and the sorcerer supreme, Dr. Strange returns as well, and we see every action is to ensure Tony Stark ends up with the gauntlet. Dr. Strange was not put to use in all the power he possesses, another moment of unreliable storytelling, but the biggest moment of discord is when Tony Stark performs a third snap.
Bruce Banner performed the second snap bringing all the vanished back, but what really bothers me is at the end every character saying "We won!" After Stark snaps his fingers and ultimately turning Thanos to dust. Why is that unreliable and unbelievable storytelling and character motivation, because we've spent time in many films with the lurk and doom of Thanos awaiting in the shadows. His presence and vile nature is one of legend and his reasoning made clear. The Avenger's spent years trying to stop and undo what he did, but once they succeeded with the snap that Banner performed, by the end Tony Stark and Thanos merely switched places, because once Iron Man snapped his fingers for a third time was not half of life across the universe wiped out again? Was not Thanos' mission achieved after all? Even if he wasn't the one to accomplish it?
At a three hours run time I felt nothing but disappointment, I felt like I was duped, like this was a joke and no way could this be the ending and answers to all the questions that was posed in Infinity War and other films over the past decade. I didn't feel satisfied, I did not enjoy the ride, I don't feel completed by the story. Unlike The Lord of the Rings trilogy, 2001-2003, which tied everything together so beautifully, the first decade of the MCU has no peaceful end, because it felt as if we were rushed and told whatever just so a new era of MCU can be ushered in.
It's a shame that Tony Stark was martyred in vain.