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Courtesy of Marvel Studios

May 6, 2019

‘Endgame’ Satisfies Despite Flaws

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The finale of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s “Infinity Saga” and the franchise’s 22nd film, Avengers: Endgame is, without a doubt, one of the biggest events in the history of the cinematic medium. Whether or not you’re a fan of these movies, there is simply no escaping the gravity of this pop culture singularity — entire lives have been lived in the time these characters have been on screen and our consensus is that Endgame, an event more than a decade in the making, generally lived up to the hype.

A little more than one week after its release, the film is already in the top five on the all-time worldwide box office gross list, in the company of only Avatar, Titanic, The Force Awakens and Infinity War, its immediate predecessor. As a short and totally unnecessary aside, Endgame’s reported budget was more than Apollo 13 made.

This degree of monetary success is unprecedented, and while we know that box office returns are not always indicative of a movie’s greatness, there are a litany of reasons why people from every part of the world are flocking to this movie.

We’ve all agreed there’s no real way to discuss this film without getting into its details so if you haven’t seen Avengers: Endgame, this is your one warning: spoilers, obviously. *Cue the intro reel.*

Why should you see Avengers: Endgame?

Olivia Bono ’20: Avengers: Infinity War felt like a Thanos movie that a handful of Avengers happened to be in; Endgame feels like an Avengers movie. For better or worse, it focuses on the lives of the core Avengers from the first movie and takes a fun trip through previous movies on the way. It truly feels like an homage to the rest of the Avengers franchise, rather than a Thanos-centric misery-fest. To me, the most compelling part of the movie was seeing how the snap affected each Avenger: Some were broken, some grew into leadership roles and some actually bettered their lives and were happier post-snap. Also, Edwin Jarvis finally makes a film cameo, which automatically makes the movie a win in my book. (RIP Agent Carter, gone too soon).

Jeremy Markus ’22: Look, I don’t even like superhero movies but I was excited for Endgame. If you have at all paid attention to the ongoing saga so carefully crafted by Marvel Studios over the past decade-plus, this is a worthy venture just to witness the unprecedented culmination of 21 previous films. It’s an exciting movie, filled with action and bright colors and people dying. I thought it was in the upper echelon of superhero films. Also, like, don’t be a nerd. See Endgame.

Nick Smith ’20: If you’ve seen the rest of the MCU films, I don’t need to give you a reason to see Endgame — you’ve probably already done so. Without being hyperbolic, seeing Avengers: Endgame might just have been the most important movie moment of my life. I’ve been following its characters for the last 10 years and the sheer amount of payoff this film managed to pump out was staggering. Professor Hulk; Cap wielding Mjolnir; Iron Man… well, dying, but in perhaps the greatest send-off we’ve ever seen for a fictional character. The list of things I loved in this movie could be an article unto itself. Having never cried in a movie theater before, I found myself crying rolling tears on two different occasions — this movie absolutely floored me. It is an emotional capstone heretofore unseen in cinema chock full of thought provoking references and stunning action sequences. I needed this film to do a lot of things and it did almost every single one of them perfectly.

Why shouldn’t you see Avengers: Endgame?

N.S.: That said, this movie has its fair share of issues. I don’t think it’s a particularly hot take to say Infinity War, Endgame’s “little brother,” was a better film despite its wanton and irresponsible use of trauma as a plot device. Infinity War did the unthinkable in making its villain the protagonist but didn’t let that novel choice get in the way of putting forth a compelling and fundamentally solid narrative. That wasn’t totally the case here, as Endgame seriously yada-yada’d time travel, moving from “it’s impossible” to “I solved it” in just a couple minutes with little explanation. Although on the whole I commend this film for the number of risks it took, some of them just didn’t land for me. Among some other smaller gripes, I didn’t need fat Thor, even as a visual representation of a literal god’s grappling with insurmountable grief (a concept that in itself is quite provoking).

O.B.: If you’re only interested in the newer members of the MCU, even the ones who have already been around for a few movies, you might be disappointed. The directors have argued that they wanted to dedicate this movie to honoring the original Avengers, especially the ones who are leaving, but come on, this is a three-hour movie. I didn’t mind the length, but with that much space to play around in, you could spare a little time to hint at the MCU’s future. How did Wakanda function without T’challa, or the New York Sanctum without Doctor Strange? Does Carol even care about Fury’s death in the snap, and is anyone surprised to see him alive since he faked his own death a few movies back? How do the Pym-Van Dynes feel about their tech being used for time travel? It seems like the consequences of this movie will reverberate through the MCU for a while, but I’d rather them answer some of these questions up front.

J.M.: If you have a bladder the size of a quail’s egg (that’s small, right?), this three-hour epic might not be for you. Also, if you don’t want to get fucking gouged by Regal Ithaca, I wouldn’t blame you. The script is fairly predictable, and if you can believe it, the good guys win in the end. I don’t like superhero films on the basis that they are incredibly predictable, and while the previous Avengers movie actually produced a solid product in that sense, Endgame had about as many twists as a steel rod.

Did the film live up to your expectations?

O.B.: Yeah, honestly, I’ve been disappointed by a few team-up movies in the past but I really enjoyed this one. I wasn’t expecting it to be as much fun as it was, especially after that bummer of an ending on Infinity War. I loved it, and thought it was better than Infinity War, but it’s not interesting to hear me talk about the good stuff, so I’m gonna focus on the one major way Endgame let me down. Marvel, we need to talk about your female characters. I get why you featured Captain Marvel so prominently on all the posters — she just had a successful movie and you want people to think this is a sequel to that — but she’s barely in Endgame. She puts Thanos in a headlock and then peaces out for most of the movie. Why was she here? Nebula or Rocket could have given us a status update on the rest of space. I know Captain Marvel hadn’t yet been made when she shot her scenes, so you didn’t know anything about her personality, backstory or even her makeup, which is why she feels like comics Carol (who I hate) instead of movie Carol (who I love), but you could have given her SOMETHING to do after all that. Don’t even get me started on how Peggy had no lines the entire movie. I guess you kind of gave Carol a purpose in the final battle, for that baffling all-women-teaming-up scene? Don’t get me wrong, I would kill for an A-Force movie, but had any of these women ever spoken to each other? Are they ever going to speak to each other? It looked like you just had extra footage of each of the female characters looking confident and decided to paste them all together at the last minute. All it really did was remind me that most of these women (except for the cast of Black Panther) are the only woman on their respective superhero teams. More than one woman on a team? Quick, throw one into the Vormir pit! Anyways, Marvel, you can make this up to me with a Taika Waititi-directed Valkyrie spinoff movie. Maybe with an appearance by Captain Marvel. And toss in She-Hulk’s introduction for good measure.

J.M.: Nick, please don’t kill me, but I don’t think Endgame was everything I expected it would be. I went in expecting a cleverly written, innovative plot that subverted any expectations I had but the movie came nowhere close. Endgame didn’t need to be three hours long, that’s just how long it happened to take the characters to carry out their “mission.” If I’m going to sit for a three-hour movie, it had better be mind-blowingly insane (or it has to be for a grade, as I was forced to watch Ben Kingsley’s Gandhi in tenth grade for social studies). There were no crazy surprises or anything too out-of-the-blue, and I would much rather rewatch a thought-provoking and unique film (my current favorite is 2016’s Arrival) than experience yet another “good guys gotta beat the bad guys!” plot. And if you ask me why I keep watching (and reviewing) such films, I’ll punch you.

N.S.: I’m surprisingly in agreement with Jeremy here — this movie definitely didn’t need to be three hours long and Arrival is one of the best films to come out this decade (Denis Villeneuve I am here for whatever it is Dune ends up being). That said, my expectations for this film weren’t necessarily tied to the intricacies of its narrative, but rather to the emotions that narrative could deliver, and deliver it did. I’m fully aware of how partial I am to these movies (they’re inseparably wrapped in layers upon layers of nostalgia) so it’s fair to take most of my thoughts here with a grain of salt. My feelings for the franchise meant I forgave some of Endgame’s errors that I might have deemed inexcusable in another film. At the end of the day, Endgame measured up to its potential as best it could for me — expectations met.

Are you excited for Phase 4 of the MCU?

O.B.: It didn’t really feel like this set up any Phase 4 details: There was no ominous after-credit scene with Galactus or Kang or whoever’s been theorized as the next villain and no official line-up of new Avengers. We have some hints about the Asgardians of the Galaxy and Sam’s future as Captain America (which . . . has been coming for a long time, so not really a surprise) but everything else is up in the air. Spider-Man: Far From Home will close out Phase 3, so maybe we’ll get more then, but otherwise, it feels like Marvel’s taking a break from the hype machine. That said, I’m still excited for Spider-Man, but only because I already was.

J.M.: No. Endgame did nothing to change my currently apathetic outlook towards the upcoming Marvel films. I know my sister likes Spiderman, so I’ll probably go watch that so I’m not out of the loop but, like, eh. Tom Holland is pretty dope, though.
N.S.: I can’t believe I’m saying this, but no. Not that I’d really looked past Endgame (I actually had a theory that they were going to end the MCU here), but if anything I’m less excited for the franchise’s future movies than I was before. This felt more like closing a book than turning a page and I’m having a tough time imagining that Marvel can top Endgame’s stakes in a way that feels natural. I had a friend say “[I] need to give them 10 more years,” but honestly I’m not sure these movies will still hit me as effectively when I’m in my 30s. Wait, am I old? Oh my gosh. Either way, I’ll be interested to see if Far From Home tackles any of the issues raised in Endgame. Maybe we’ll get some more celestial action after the Fox merger is complete? I wouldn’t be unhappy to see Galactus or Kang. Until then, going back to neighborhood-level threats just isn’t going to feel the same.

Jeremy Markus is a freshman in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He can be reached at arts@cornellsun.com. Nick Smith is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at nsmith@cornellsun.com. Olivia Bono is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at ojb26@cornell.edu.