Avengers Endgame is the epitome of the MCU. It is the best example of what this franchise has become, and in that sense, this movie without a doubt does succeed. But unfortunately this is not a good thing.
Endgame revels in the idea that it is the best comic book movie of all time, backed by a fandom that has elevated it to that status even before its grand opening. Believing in its own invincibility, the movie tries to reach new cinematic heights, backed by multiple fan service scenes, dazzling visual effects and relentless one-liner jokes that drown every ounce of drama a scene might have had (a formula used by the franchise during the past ten years). It bombards the audience with an onslaught of information in rapid succession effectively confusing the audience and funnily, itself too. In fact, it seems like the Russo brothers were expecting an audience devoid of logic, inquisitive thought or logical thinking. The movie wants its audience to be dumb and doesn’t care about delivering a good, logical and entertaining story. It knows fans will consume whatever this movie throws at them and they’ll do it with a big smile.
In a time where people seek instant satisfaction in a every corner of their lives, where everything is readily available and where no effort is required to achieve what you want, Endgame shines the brightest. It is a movie that delivers instant satisfaction aplenty, but it does so by sacrificing the story and the characters for five-second sparks that shine brightly and quickly fade. The story lacks depth and it easily folds to any type of scrutiny. The movie feels like fast food, leaving you with an empty stomach right after the first bite. It seems the Directors are aware that this is just enough for most fans, so they just gave up seeking a better movie or good story telling. They just stick to the same overused formula, elevating it to new heights of exaggeration.
The final product is a movie that delivers quick, easy to digest and shallow entertainment. Nothing has a real consequence, everything is lighthearted, rushed and quick. There’s no moment of contemplation, no moment of observation. The audience and the characters are on a rollercoaster of situations, carrying them from scene to scene at top speed, only slowing down to present quick explanations to connect each scene with the next.
It is also a shame that this movie treats its characters so poorly. But it has been a franchise treat since after The Avengers came out. Character development here means changing a character’s arc completely from movie to movie, and is treated like an anecdote; a simple explanation to justify 180 degree twists. Most notable of these are Thor and Hulk, who are shadows of their former selves. So much so, it is hard to consider them the heroes audiences have known from the initial phase of this franchise. And it’s not that audiences abhor character development, on the contrary they embrace it. However this franchise, and Endgame in particular considers it as an accessory, something secondary that adds little flavor to the plot. Something to be treated lightly and dealt with quickly. We are told but never shown, there is no time for that, only the urgency of plot advancing. We barely witness real character development in this franchise, and in Endgame this is not an exception. At least, there are few scenes that properly treat a character’s story arch (Tony’s and Clint’s), something welcome. For the other characters it is like the audience is handed a photo album after a family’s holiday. We are told the holidays were great, that they had a good time, perhaps even a few pictures of them laughing or posing. But in the end we never witnesses the process, we are only there to see the end result.
And then there’s the movie plot. Which raises so many questions and concerns, it seems the writers threw ideas to a blender and came up with the easiest story possible, without contemplating the consequences of obvious plot holes or alternative more logical outcomes. The plot depends on silly, illogical moments to advance, such as the rats saving Ant Man, or the epic “Bucky is alive” phrase delivered so conveniently by Captain America. Endgame uses these kinds plot devices shamelessly and without remorse. Surely many fans will notice the silliness but will quickly forgive them for whatever reason.
Endgame is a passable movie. It entertains but leaves a bad taste in your mouth. It constitutes a fine example of easy entertainment. Die hard fans will forgive its many flaws (and will go to any length to defend it, as shown in the various explanation articles that have popped out around the internet). But the plot holes and inconsistencies are numerous and big, impossible to ignore if you have at least an inch of logic in yourself. And that is worrying. It is worrying that people settle for such low standards in filmmaking and storytelling. It is worrying that media celebrates hollow entertainment, and prize the shameless inclusion of political agendas. Gone are the days where movies were about telling a great story, where logic was used, where memorable moments were created from scratch. But most of all, it is worrying that people don’t care being treated like mindless drones, eager to accept every single nonsense the movie offers. But so are times we are living in. Endgame is already the financial success it was meant to be, proof enough that these kind of movies are in fact popular.
From my part I refuse to accept that comic book movies can be this shallow. I know they can be intelligent and interesting to watch, they can pose real questions to the audience and can generate endless hours of debate, just like the great comic books of old. They can be all this and so much more while giving us the chance to see our superheroes come to life. It can be done, but it seems audiences these days seek quick, easy entertainment. Let us hope in the future, CBM can become better entertainment pieces. In the meantime we got the MCU, a project that was promising but failed to be great (and settled for financial success). And that is a real shame.