At this stage, reviewing Avengers: Endgame- or even trying to- is an exercise in futility. These lines are not about to tip the balance in any way regarding whether you decide to go watch it (if you already haven’t) or skip it altogether. Right now it is not hyperbole stating that the vast majority of people who hold moviegoing as a common occurrence in their daily lives either already watched it or carry their pre-bought tickets protectively around in their pockets as I write/you read this. My opinion is not going to make you reconsider (if you already watched it) and change at all the way you perceived it, either, but even if my role as a reviewer is more than merely a bit pointless here I, as a fan, can´t even consider keeping my thoughts all for myself. I need to discuss this movie, to engage as many people in the conversation as possible- the more, the better.
By now, there is a list of very specific keywords and phrases that will lead you straight to very much every single review already posted online- final, spectacular, satisfying, swan song, stick landings… All of those are appropriate to describe Endgame- to some extent, at some point or other, at least- and I won´t waste our time dwelling on them as well; suffice to say that the one I feel is the most suited for the task is epochal. ‘Nuff said. If that isn´t clear enough please allow me to try again: I not only liked this film- I loved it. Dearly.
However, I must tell you that what, up until a few minutes before its denouement, was on its confident way towards becoming one of the very best Marvel Cinematic Universe movies since its beginning eleven years ago (one of the very best superhero or, simply, blockbuster movies ever, to be accurate) ended up coming short. Why? Because of tone.
Last year’s Infinity War proved to be just what this one seemed about to become too. A masterpiece in pop entertainment. If it actually achieved such goal (if such lofty goal was indeed in the filmmakers’ mindset) it was because it embraced not only what it set out to do. However, also what it was supposed to be- a tragedy. The “Thanos Will Return” tag at the very end was not there out of sheer randomness and it, factually, deemed it the villain’s film. That it was crammed full with a deliriously satisfying (Bingbing!) and an enormous chunk of the franchise’s best humor, dialogue exchanges, action and interactions too was fundamental for the experience to be memorable in spite its admittedly downer of an ending, though. But more than any of that, evidently, was a clear promise coming from more than a century of moving pictures as viable commercialism: the promise of the oncoming sequel and the second chance at final redemption it would inherently bring along. Sure, it was okay to let Thanos evaporate half of creation- hell, it was more than okay even to enjoy it- for we just knew that, although Infinity was his, Endgame would inevitably and irrevocably become the Avengers’ and, consequently, ours.
But it isn´t- why? Because of tone.
I feel Endgame was supposed to be the ultimate climax, an orgasmic celebration of this amazing journey. I could, in fact, visualize myself walking- no, floating, elated- out of the theater, singing its praises for myself if no one else, not as much the individual bits and pieces but, rather, the overall sensation with which it would undoubtedly leave us, the audiences, suffused. Joy, bliss, exhilaration, awe, redundancy be damned. Instead, Endgame is, if possible, even more elegiac than its predecessor, not solely in execution- in and of itself disappointing- but, worse, also in intent.
The film’s last ten minutes or so made sure I replaced the quasi-crazed smile I had already locked in place at that point for a knowing half-grin and a light rain of tears waiting expectantly to finally let go from my eyes. Some of my all-time favorite movies unfailingly make me cry- I love the liberating feeling it provides- but not all tears are equal, and those that Endgame brought were more bitter than sweet. Does it feel right? Maybe, maybe not, but the decisions made in that last stretch feel for sure unnecessary, born out of a gravely misplaced fear of a cynical response at a brighter, rainbow-filled ending.
They had earned it- all and every single one of those involved- and we had, too- the faithful.
The final (Bingbing!) payoffs will very probably offset any other possible inconvenience for you. They almost did for me. And if you are one of those who watched the spoiler-filled footage when it leaked a few days ago or simply think you already know what’s in store, trust me: you have not experienced Avengers: Endgame until you watch all of it. However, it is sad knowing that, every time I rewatch it from now on, the inevitability of that unspooled reality- what could have been- will always be there, getting in the way of an otherwise almost totally unblemished event.
On the other hand, if the ultimate purpose was to leave an aftertaste lingering with a giddy in satisfaction that would whet our collective appetite for another decade of fulfilled dreams (led by- would you have ever imagined it?- Black Panther, Doctor Strange and Captain Marvel) then, consider it a mission accomplished.
Eloy Ricardo Balderas Salazar