Avengers: Endgame is a big, ambitious, messy spectacle with some of the largest setpieces ever dedicated to film in its climax. As fun as it is, it’s not a terribly well-tuned movie. Unfortunately, it’s quite messy.

If you aren’t the kind of person who can’t enjoy a superhero movie when it isn’t transcendently excellent like The Dark Knight or Logan then you aren’t going to be getting much out of this film. The movie is fundamentally a spectacle, driving home moments of fanservice that pay off longstanding story arcs in the other 21 films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In the end, these moments are just moments in a much less focused whole.

The Russo Brothers

The Russo Brothers are very talented directors but they struggle with thematic coherency and dramatic heft. They can direct a film excellently and they’re very well tuned to the tastes of the majority 15-35 male demographic that these movies are largely being produced for. Unfortunately, they struggle to create film’s that work on levels beyond those tastes. Their best film to date is easily Captain America: The Winter Soldier which multiple critics of late have started to contest hasn’t aged all that well in the past five years (although it is still quite good).

They struggle to dramatize the ideas and morals their stories are supposed to be about and end up producing movies that either work by shocking the audience into submission (Infinity War) or groove on fun dialog and character interactions without much solid structure to root their stories in. Avengers: Endgame is the latter. There aren’t many extremely surprising or shocking moments like the Hydra reveal or the various character deaths in the preceding movie. For the most part, the film is coasting by on a somber tone and clever moments.

Most of the actual necessary character work in the film is largely glossed over. Tons of story arcs like Stark and Roger’s fight from Civil War are mostly ignored beyond a few call-backs. Dramatic character work like this should’ve been the body of the film are mostly downplayed. Instead, the majority of the film is characters reacting to the events of the previous film before snapping back to normal long enough to work together on a plan to try and resolve the effects of the Thanos snap. There’s no interpersonal drama in which to get invested.

A Messy but Fun Movie

Still, it’s not bad. It’s clear the movie wants to be a massive Return of the King style climax with emotionally fulfilling character moments intermixed with epic battle scenes like the Battle of Minas Tirith. Instead, it’s more similar to Return of the Jedi. It’s a series of enormous set pieces and character beats with a lot of boring, slow character interactions that form up the body of the film’s three-hour runtime. Those moments will probably win the hearts of those who go see the film enough that it’ll be entirely worth the experience.  I just wish it were more tightly woven and thematically driven in the way the best superhero movies like last year’s Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse is.

In any case, fans are going to love it.


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