(Editor’s Note: When we found out our neighbor, Third Coast Comics owner Terry Gant, was holding a special event for fans on opening night of Marvel’s new blockbuster, we knew he could give us a thoughtful review.)
Do not worry. This review will be spoiler-free and almost painless. By and large most of my friends loved Avengers: Endgame and are over the moon about it. But I have to analyze movies like this, so it’s just not that simple for me.
Not only did I carve out time to see Marvel Studios’ latest and greatest superhero epic, but my shop, Third Coast Comics (6443 N. Sheridan) rented a theater so more than 150 other nerds could watch it with me.
A year ago when Thanos snapped his fingers in Avengers: Infinity War, there was a massive scream from fans, as many of their favorite characters had been reduced to dust. This movie basically promised some good old avenging, and it also had the task of answering questions that I have been fielding every day for the past year.
When I sit down for a movie like this I tend to go in as blind as possible. I want the story to unfold before me like Doctor Strange’s cloak. This is a herculean task for a comic book store owner, as comic book stores are highly trafficked by armchair screenwriters and conspiracy theorists. Don’t believe me? Walk into any comic shop in the land when there are two or more people there and offer an opinion on ANYTHING. You’ll see.
I did pretty well going into Avengers: Endgame. All that was left was to see what choices the Russo Brothers would make to get themselves out of the conundrum they’d put themselves in with one snap of Thanos’ fingers a year before.
I knew the fight scenes would be epic. I knew the banter would be…pretty much Marvel movie banter. I knew that in order to win, there would have to be noble sacrifice. I knew for that sacrifice to matter, the writers would have to put the fans through an emotional rollercoaster.
The dialog followed the familiar pattern of discussing/arguing/finger pointing so much so that I couldn’t believe they just didn’t get about the business of avenging. People had to rehash arguments from like 2011. In Marvel movie terms that’s like 20 years ago! They eventually get around to really surprising me by letting Nebula, played by Karen Gillan, steal the show.
Then we get to the noble sacrifice part. This is really where I had the most trouble. I’m still waiting for someone at Marvel Studios to pick up a comic book in order to learn that the Soul Gem is not just a tool to cue swelling violins by making you kill your friends. Its purpose is never explained and essentially you get to, through the magic of thoughtlessness, witness the same plot device twice.
There are three noble sacrifices. The first makes no sense. The second uses your heart strings to make you forget that this character doesn’t do sacrifice. And the third basically happens off camera. While I wasn’t surprised when it happened, they could have given that one as much time to develop as it took to resolve it.
The fight scenes were epic but there were questions about why certain characters didn’t actually show up in the first battle (while they were technically physically there), but were (sort of) willing to participate in the second battle. There were characters we spent this Spring being made to believe would “have a huge impact” in Endgame, but maybe they just meant this in size of craters left in a battle. As far as the story went, this character is basically a cosmic tow truck.
The writers spent so much time concocting this Cosmic Mission Impossible: Infinity Heist caper film that they lost track of almost all internal consistency in their character’s arcs. They spent ten years getting to this point and I felt like they gave us moments they thought we’d want to see, without considering more than the surface thoughts of the characters who would do the things they thought we’d want to see.
It’s not like some of these people had three movies or anything to show us who they were and what deeply motivated them. This motivation feeds directly into what sacrifices have to be made to defeat Thanos and who would have to make them. Characters who have nothing to lose aren’t really the ones you need to sacrifice. It’s the comic book equivalent of not taxing the rich because they are already rich and loving famous people because they are famous.
My grades are as follows:
Action = A
Dialog = B
Major Character Development = C
Minor Character Development = A
Plot and Storytelling = C
Overall Grade = C but with rocket ships flying around it or something. Like the best superhero movie I’ve ever seen that I wanted to give an average over-all grade to. Now go see it and love it.