With over 10 years of cinematic build up and anticipation, The Avengers: Endgame was the final chapter to conclude an epic story timeline. But did it? The Marvel film, directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, featured an all star cast of Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, and Mark Ruffalo. Contrary to popular opinion, a small minority of critics were sorely disappointed with the film. According to YouTubers The Closer Look, HiTop Films, and Fantasy Theory (aka Star Wars Theory), the hype of Endgame seemed to have fallen a bit short and quite frankly a bit flat compared to its predecessors. Though they felt the film overall was ok, the YouTubers shared what they disliked most about the film and why they expected more.
For a movie that in theory is about grief and trauma and overcoming that grief and trauma, there is an overabundance of the typical jokes and quips that marvel has been doing since the first Avengers.
YouTuber HiTop Films noted right off the bat, the film had an issue with tone balancing. Throughout the film, the heartfelt moments were undercut by sometimes harsh comedic scenes that followed. He used the death of Black Widow as an example – the team learned of her death and mourns for about two minutes and then in the next scene it goes back to portraying humor when Rocket mischievously yells “boom!” and scares Tony after he had just figured out how to assemble the stones.
Picture this: two massive armies, superheroes running to the front lines of the battlefield, swords and weapons drawn on opposing sides and an evil villainous creature leading a charge. Seems like a great build up to an epic battle scene – or so YouTuber The Closer Look thought, “this portal scene left me on the edge of my seat in anticipation for this epic battle that was about to take place…this was going to be one of the most epic battle scenes ever created.” However, he was sorely disappointed and it was one of his biggest gripes about the film. The YouTuber in short described the third act of the film as punching their way through a CGI army, claiming that what Endgame failed to do was structure this last battle scene like its own story. He goes on to compare the scene to the Lord of the Rings siege of Helms Deep and how if the film had structured the storyline similarly, it would have been much more impactful:
The main reason why the siege of Helms Deep is such a compelling battle scene and why Endgame is less so is that very ingredient…the ingredient of progression…whenever a battle scene fails to be compelling, it's usually for this exact reason
Throughout the battle scene, The Closer Look felt the audience was shown the Avengers victory over victory over victory, when it came to defeating Thanos’ army. But it seemed like the characters were fighting just to fight and there was no purpose. There wasn’t a clear goal of the fight and no progression shown as to what the characters needed to do in order to win the fight.
This whole two minute section of the battle provides an utterly huge amount of ying and absolutely zero yang to go with it, the hero’s achieve victory after victory and deal with the situation so easily that it kills our dramatic investment…how can we feel afraid for our characters when all they do is win win win?
The YouTuber continues to compare the scene to the Helms Deep battle where in some parts the film created feelings of dread that the heroes would fall and then drew in feelings of hope when a character is saved. It created a real sense of anticipation over whether or not our heroes would be victorious going back and forth with wins and losses. Whereas in Endgame, it was just victory after victory the entire plot, making the positive moments less impactful.
Another criticism of the film that YouTuber Fantasy Theory felt really impacted the entire Marvel universe was the element and usage of time travel. He felt it was almost too easy and uncreative to use time travel as a solution to save the world.
When you have a movie that’s going to be hyped up so much, has too much backstory, about 22 films and over 10 years of films and movies that are adding up to this one moment, when you use time travel, it just kind of undermines everything.
Fantasy Theory argued that it was harder for him as the audience to connect with these past characters, who were brand new, as opposed to the present-day characters that he had been growing with and traveling with on their journey of trials and tribulations. He goes on to explain that because of time travel, it felt like the Avengers just ended up in conflict with completely new characters because old Thanos had never met the Avengers before and didn’t have any sort of connection to them for their battle scene to actually be meaningful. It was like they were fighting against completely new villains:
It just didn’t feel consistent…it felt like a fake alternate reality that just doesn’t mesh.
Similar to Fantasy Theory’s critique of Thanos’ past character, YouTuber HiTop Films also felt because old Thanos had never met the Avengers, the time travel concept made the film feel inconsistent and scattered without connection, “this Thanos has never met any of the Avengers, he has no connection to them, he knows about them but has never directly faced them.”
Ultimately, they felt the time travel concept added too many different timelines that in the end were not consistent and felt confusing.
In terms of time traveling and time jumping, HiTop Films also agreed that the film’s concept of time building was not used effectively. The YouTuber’s biggest complaint about this aspect was that everything the audience wanted to know about the characters development was done off screen during the time jump:
Tony Stark gets married to Pepper, a relationship that we’ve been following since 2008, off screen during the time jump…Tony Stark has his first and only child off screen during the time jump, just showing us one of the those moments…of Tony walking away…and deciding to be happy with Pepper would make his eventual sacrifice, that much more impactful.
He argues that so much of the characters' backstory happens off screen without much explanations. In the end, the audience was only left with the results of their natural growth and progression leading to more questions and wanting to learn more about what happened to them and how they came to be where they are in the present moment.
Black Widow’s death, Hawkeye becoming Ronin and Bruce’s acceptance of the Hulk, and Rocket losing his family and building a new one, Thor battling self-doubt and depression, Nebula fully growing into a hero, Cap realizing he can be happy, Tony becoming happy and then sacrificing that and himself for the greater good all feel like they deserve their own movie.
The Closer Look, HiTop Films and Fantasy Theory (aka Star Wars Theory) review movies on their channels every week.