Avengers: Endgame is ruling the box office as expected. After a decade’s worth of intersecting movies, the exciting conclusion has finally hit theaters. Usually in my reviews, I write about the good, the bad, and the fascinating of the movie I’m reviewing. However, considering that Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame are essentially two parts of one movie, I’m doing this one a little differently by writing about my thoughts on each film individually and then my thoughts on them as a whole. Let’s take a closer look at this titanic movie event to see if it’s been worth all they hype.
Avenger: Infinity War
Avengers: Infinity War was the first time the Avengers had met up since Captain America: the Winter Soldier, and the first time some of the other characters like Dr. Strange and the Guardians of the Galaxy met the rest of the Marvel heroes. Everything built up to this movie and it led to some of the best action ever seen in film. The action basically runs nonstop from the very beginning to the end. Every fight is cleverly choreographed and thought out. The filmmakers clearly knew where they wanted to place each of the many characters where they’d have the best impact on the action. It’s all like one big roller coaster ride for two and a half hours.
Despite the action being especially great, a movie needs more than just action. It needs to have a good story to it as well. The story in Infinity War is so all over the place that it doesn’t really have a coherent plot. There are a lot of subplots and not much of one main plot. Thor is off finding a replacement for his hammer, Captain America and his group come out of hiding to go to Wakanda to help the Vision. Iron Man and his group leave the other superheroes behind to go to space in order to fight Thanos. Other than Thanos attacking various groups of characters, there’s not much tying the many subplots together. It’s all about stopping Thanos from eliminating half of all living beings, which makes sense, but we don’t know much about why he wants to do so. We know it involves something from his past, but not what that something is. There’s honestly too much going on for there to be a coherent narrative.
One of the most exciting parts of Infinity War is the team ups. Characters who we have never seen on screen before come together for hilarious banter and for epic combo attacks during fights. Some of these include Spider-Man web-slinging through Doctor Strange’s portals, Winter Soldier lifting Rocket Raccoon to gun down some aliens, and Okoye and Black Widow double-teaming one of Thanos’ henchmen. Some of the best moments were the banter between characters just meeting for the first time, like Iron Man and Star-Lord arguing about a plan of attack. It was just as fun seeing characters meet up for the first time here as it was back in The Avengers.
Despite it being extraordinarily fun to see these crossovers, we don’t get to see all the characters actually meet each other like everyone had hoped. We get to see some cool meetups, but there are quite a few characters who never even know that certain other characters exist. Star Lord and Captain America never know about each other, and the same goes for characters like Doctor Strange and Black Widow. It would have been nice to get a quick scene before the big fight at the end where everyone met up in one location so that we could see the MCU characters really come together.
I feel torn about the Oscar-nominated special effects. In most moments, like with Rocket Raccoon or the massive alien army in Wakanda, they are vibrant and realistic. Rocket Raccoon in general, whether it be this or the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, is one of the best examples of a CGI/motion capture character ever. However, there are instances throughout the movie where the CGI stands out a little too much and looks surprisingly bad for a modern superhero flick. The shot of Spider-Man in his Iron Spider suit on his way to space looks like a PS2-era video game. Thanos looks hilariously cartoony at moments. It’s also especially bothersome that the Thanos CGI looks so wildly different than he did during the end credits scene after The Avengers.
Thanos is certainly an interesting villain. He’s a huge threat to the heroes. He’s also the hero in his own mind. He is genuinely fighting for what he believes to be the right thing to do. He’s not just a mustache-twirling villain who wants to take over the world. He’s relatively humanized and relatable. I do, however, wish that we knew more about his motivation. We know something happened in his past that he regrets not stopping. We can infer that his race died out due to lack of resources because that’s what he’s worried about what is happening with the rest of the galaxy, but they never give much of an actual answer despite receiving answers and flashbacks about other plot points. Plus, if this is the case, why doesn’t he just use the Infinity Gauntlet do produce infinite resources so that we can never run out regardless of how much our population increases? That would have saved both him and the Avengers a lot of trouble.
There are definitely some emotional moments throughout the film. The ending was certainly a tear-jerker with all the characters being wiped out by Thanos’ snap. It did take away from the emotion knowing that some of those characters were already scheduled to appear in future movies. It was easy to tell that those affected by the snap would be back somehow. However, for the characters who weren’t fortunate enough to make it to the snap, it’s pretty devastating. I wouldn’t expect some of them to have that fate, and I give the filmmakers huge props for going to that length. It also makes you feel concerned that the same could happen to any other character through the course of the film.
All in all, Avengers: Infinity War contains some of the best superhero action ever throughout most of the movie. It’s a nonstop thrill ride with some extremely emotional moments. It’s somewhat lacking in actual story, relies on almost twenty other movies in order to make sense, and is left open-ended for movies to come. Because it doesn’t stand super well as its own movie. That being said, it is an extremely fun action movie with good humor and emotion and tons of our favorite superheroes in it. Plus, it’s primary purpose was to set the groundwork for Endgame, which it succeeds in. If you’ve been following the Marvel Cinematic Universe up to this point, you won’t be disappointed seeing most of the characters in one movie together taking part in some of the best action imaginable.
Rating for Avengers: Infinity War on its own: 7/10
Avengers: Endgame is the epic finale of the 22-movie Infinity Saga, and it delivers. Infinity War feels like the prologue to the real meat of the story which is Endgame. Infinity War was mostly just action with no real story structure, but that’s something that Endgame did really well. The beginning sets the tone and shows us the state the world is now in, the middle sends the heroes on a grand adventure, and it ends with the most exciting climax imaginable. Also, there aren’t a million different plots being jumped around to. It follows one central plot. By having the amount of characters cut in half, it made things easier to follow.
However, where Endgame contains a more well-done narrative than Infinity War, there is less action. This lack of action in the middle of a superhero movie does make it feel a little slow at some points. When it does happen, it’s great but does not last long. Some action scenes, like the past and present Captain America duking it out, definitely could have lasted a bit longer. That being said, this lack of action throughout the film makes the final battle much more satisfying. It’s like a Lord of the Rings war scene with superheroes and is one of the most amazing action scenes ever brought to film. Every character gets a moment to shine in this epic climax.
Endgame pulls on your heart strings throughout most of the film. We see in many different ways how losing so many people affected those who survived, some of which on a very personal level. We also lose more beloved characters throughout the journey of this movie, most of which feel even more impactful. The emotion doesn’t just lie within the loss of characters, but in what the characters go through as well. Some characters come to the end of their story arc in the most beautiful of ways possible. Others begin a new journey of sorts, creating feelings of hope. The main few, like Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor, have very moving interactions with people from their pasts, which make for some extraordinarily powerful moments while also proving to be perfect driving forces for some of the decisions they make.
This movie provides clever ways of having many of the MCU’s main characters, along with the audience, take a look back at how far the series has come. We see Thor, Hulk, Iron Man, and Captain America look back at how they once were compared to who they’ve become. We also get to see events from past MCU movies from different perspectives, which is a lot of fun. It really makes you think about and appreciate everything that has happened that led to this momentous movie event. It also serves as an amusing nostalgia trip.
There are a couple of specific scenes that rub me the wrong way. One is when Captain Marvel is talking with the Avengers at their headquarters for the first time. She states that the reason they lost against Thanos was because they didn’t have her. This isn’t exactly something a superhero should say. It sounds narcissistic. Like Rhodey points out, they’re all “about that superhero life.” They all use their abilities to protect people. They don’t lay claim that the other heroes are useless without them. I also agree with Rhodey when he asks her where she’s been since the 90s while everyone else is doing what they can for the greater good. Her response is that she’s been saving many planets and not just the one. My issue with that statement is that she says this even though Rocket Raccoon and Nebula are still on the team. The Guardians of the Galaxy are saving literally the whole galaxy. In Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2, they save like 50 planets from Ego. They’re out saving tons of planets and space stations, and she claims to be the only one doing that which doesn’t make sense. I feel like the Guardians would have heard about her. I want an actual answer about why she hasn’t been helping out for the past couple of decades.
The other scene that bothered me was when Tony and Steve come face to face for the first time since the Civil War. I, and probably most other people, were excited to see a grand reunion between the two featuring an apology and the two former friends respecting each other’s decisions and moving on so that they can work together for the greater good once again. However, Tony and his big ego had to act immaturely and refuse to apologize to Steve or talk it out when Steve wanted him to realize the only way to save the universe was for them to work together. It was annoying and wasn’t the satisfying reunion that fans deserved.
The writers did a pretty good job figuring out how to avoid changing too much of the world with time travel (other than some things in order to set up those Disney+ shows like Loki). They even cleverly tell us that the Back to the Future rules don’t apply so that the viewer doesn’t have those expectations. However, when Captain America goes back to return the Infinity Stones toward the end of the movie, how does he return some of them? He has to put one back inside of Natalie Portman somehow, and he has to put the Soul Stone back despite needing a sacrifice to retrieve it. Is it possible to put it back without a sacrifice? He would also come face to face with his old nemesis, the Red Skull. That meeting would potentially be huge for him, and yet it’s glossed over. How did Steve go about returning the Reality or Soul Stones?
There are too many events that happen throughout the movie by coincidence and sheer luck. None of the movie would have been possible if it weren’t for a rat scurrying across the Quantum Realm controls in Scott’s van and accidentally hitting the right button to set him free. Tony and Nebula are saved from their fates of drifting through space in a dead ship by Captain Marvel because she happened to see them on her way to Earth. Considering that space is infinite, this seems unlikely. In order to get the Soul Stone, there must be a sacrifice of a loved one. The pair that went to retrieve this stone happened to be Black Widow and Hawkeye, the one pair that had a strong enough bond. They didn’t know this Infinity Stone required a sacrifice. What if Nebula and War Machine ended up going? They’d be screwed. If there was one coincidence like this in the movie, that would have been fine, but so many makes things feel a bit forced.
The humor in some of the MCU movies, as great as it typically is, sometimes undercuts the impact of the drama happening. In Endgame, though, the humor is blended in organically. It’s all perfectly timed and used in times when it won’t take anything away from other scenes. Some of the jokes in Endgame are particularly strong, like Captain America’s ass being called “America’s ass,” Scott getting ready to eat a taco to have it destroyed by a ship’s turbine, or Tony referring to Nebula as the Blue Meanie (I appreciate a good Yellow Submarine reference).
Obviously, Endgame does not stand on its own as a great solo movie since it relies heavily on Infinity War and on future movies happening, but it does wrap things up nicely and feel like a good ending for much of this era of the MCU while also serving as the beginning of, or the next step of, other stories.
Ultimately, Avengers: Endgame serves as the ideal finale for the Infinity Saga of the MCU. It’s emotional, fun, looks back at and pays homage to the last eleven years of Marvel movies, and has a gigantic battle that makes any comic book fan’s dream come true. It does have some frustrating scenes and minor plot holes, and isn’t watchable if you haven’t seen past movies, but it absolutely delivers as an epic thrill ride and heartfelt ending. The narrative is cleverly thought out, and there are plenty of moments worthy of cheering from movie theater audiences. I loved this movie 3,000 despite some of those minor flaws.
Rating for Avengers: Endgame on its own: 8.5/10
Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame together
Considering Infinity War and Endgame are essentially one big film, it makes more sense to really talk about them as one entity. Together, they are the most ambitious superhero film ever made, and it’s pretty amazing. The action is on the largest scale imaginable. There is a perfect mixture of humor and emotion. Every character gets their moment or moments to shine, even if the moments are short for some. Characters we’ve never seen on screen together before interact in creative ways. We see great visual comparisons of how the MCU was at the start and how big it has become. They pay homage to the roots of the biggest movie universe ever. These movies serve as a perfect finale while opening up some new doors. When I was in the theater watching the first Iron Man, or even the first Avengers movie, I would have never imagined it would get to this incredible scale. Bravo, Marvel. You’ve accomplished something in cinema that’s never been pulled off before.
Despite these two movies working better together, they STILL don’t function as a standalone and rely on the viewer seeing twenty other movies to fully understand what is happening. I know it’s a cinematic universe movie, but there are ways of still having the story work on its own. Plus, for these two movies to work at least somewhat on their own, they need to be watched together as one long film. There are quite a few plot holes and coincidences. Because there are so many characters, some are shoved to the side and the plot jumps around a little too much. Even though there are plenty of creative character team ups, there are still some that never happen that could be a lot of fun to see. Most of the effects look amazing, but there are times when the CGI stands out as being pretty ugly to look at.
Regardless, the incredible superhero action on such a grand scale, the emotion, the fun callbacks, the witty humor, and the payoff for a twenty two movie franchise makes seeing these two movies absolutely worth it. I recommend watching them back to back once they are both available on blu-ray to get the full experience.
Rating for Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame together: 9/10