Avengers: Endgame Review
The general problem with Endgame starts off with its first 10 minutes. It’s about American principles and values. It’s about loss of family. It’s about losing family for a greater good. So it’s about how important these values are, except when they don’t. We do not need another reminder how Thanos finger snapped everyone into dust. We do not need to be reminded why we don’t want to lose someone. We do, however, need to be reminded who were actually lost —there are so many heroes in this movie after all— and how it will affect the next event.
I hate to cheese the movie, but take Lord of the Rings trilogy. First 10 minutes usually start off reminding how things have changed for the heroes and for the villains. Heck, even Saruman says “World is changing” as The Two Towers begins rolling. There’s been at least a year gap, and so the film gives a quick recap of what happened. The new kid in the block instead continues to do what it did in the last movie. For those who know what happened, it’s boring; for those who forgot, it’s too obvious and unnecessary. We already know the world will be in disorder. It makes you look like a jackass for pointing out the obvious, not a woman on a mission.
Speaking of looking like a jackass, Jeremy Renner’s Japanese was horrible in the movie. If you, the audience, happen to speak Japanese as well, I strongly recommend shutting your ears for those moments. It literally took me awhile to gather my thoughts and start to look for English subtitles on the screen. They could have simply made him not talk for a bit, but oh my goodness. It was like watching Lost all over again.
This flaws in character development is like a one size fit all for all the characters. They are mass manufactured with some tropes in hand. I won’t mention all of them for the sake of not spoiling, but here are fews: rendered unreasonable after losing a family, risking everything for the greater good, not rewarding oneself otherwise necessary, and etc. You can see how these clichés are built around the American heroism. And it’s poorly built motifs with poorly defended ideology.
It’s a poorly built construct, because it dilutes any principles. There are too many heroes in Avengers as is, and they cannot possibly share and should not possibly share their principles. If they want to protect the Earth, that’s fine. But if protecting the world comes at a cost, that tipping point between the family and the world can only be a linchpin to bring it all down. Loss of family is so devastating, everyone drags their feet for 2+ hours; but everybody also risks losing their family to save the world for 30 mins time. The images are not that of emotional acceptance, but rather butchered.
Going back to Hawkeye, —since I spoiled he will be speaking in Japanese— we see the sadness everyone shares from the loss of family in Hawkeye’s perspectives. How he coped with them and how he dealt with them are the beginning chapters of the film. It is truly a tragic moment, except when it isn’t. He pretends to be driven mad and now became workaholic, the sort of goodness Thanos was looking forward to from the finger snapping. So on one hand, we have a hero who returned to his work after the finger snapping, and on the other hand, we have a man who can’t cope with his depression in healthy way. Perhaps they should have thought twice before writing this off as worthless. Give good ol’ Thanos a chance to preach once more?
Thanos is another victim of this on-going abuse of plot devices and character frameworks. His speeches were mangled to a point where I was reminded of part 2 of Deathnote, where the anti-hero protagonist really believes he can be a god in a new world order. —I mean, he will definitely die one day and the foreshadowing was obvious enough from the get-go— It’s poorly written. He saw the end of his quest, the end of his destiny. He, for whatever reason, in 20 minutes or less, decided to change it with some magical artifacts the plot threw in, not with his ideas. He was a scholar with a bone to pick and portrayed as such in The Inifinity War, and now he acts like a giant monster in Power Rangers episode, just grew miraculously powerful to kill off the heroes and take over the world.
Biggest offense was on Black Widow, a supposed assassin who found the new meaning in life. Supposedly, she was social amongst them. But we didn’t see any human interactions, so we can’t tell if she had any personal relationships with any of them: not Hawkeye, not Hulk, not even Capt. America. In the end, she hasn’t established anything on her own other than what is implied. When she says she has nothing, her lines are painstakingly ringing true. She is a sacrificial lamb for the plot. And we are supposed to get a solo movie out of her in the future. Whatever her future be, it is unlikely to be enlightening.
As such, most of the heroes were very much tuned down, especially heroines. They do make a stand at the height of the conflict, but their presence in the movie is not required to move the plot. In fact, they often flatten already dying story. Too many heroines can already defeat Thanos, yet chooses to maintain status quo for different excuses. I won’t spoil the fun, but to name just one—seeing a fishing hamlet with its new queen was already depressing as is. This new monarch is hardly more suitable, barely has any chance to return its to its former glory, and only propagate autocratic democracy abomination.
Conclusions: Befitting Closures for MCU, But Deadbeat Standalone.
If you haven’t paid much attentions in previous films, this one will completely baffle you. If you were a big fan, this will come as a nice interval. However, do not make high anticipations of watching The Endgame in the theater; it will only remind you of watching the non-stopping epilogues from Lord of the Rings. Makers of the film may have been dealt a horrible hand of cards, but mostly it was their own making. Seeing the movie follows 5 steps of grief dogmatically can also ruin 3+ hours of run time after the first 10 minutes.