‘Avengers: Endgame’ is half service to the fans, half actual movie

30 April 2019

Travis Boren

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    “Endgame” is an entertaining three-hour culmination to the 11 year old Avengers saga , but the movie’s shortcomings are glaring even with the fun and enjoyable parts.

    All of the original Avengers get a chance receive a piece of the narrative, with Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) being characteristically sidelined with the least emotional development because no one who works in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) seems to understand how to add depth to the green giant that print writers have been able to showcase.

    The personal narratives that the movie explores from the original cast fit disjointedly together because the flow of events would be better suited to a 22 minute air time traditional television episode.

    Once the characters develop their ultimate heroic plan, the action falls into a predictable road of problem-solution-twist-solution for subplots that are applied evenly across the board, despite the very individualized emotional development characters receives.

    Since the release of “Captain America: Civil War” (2016), the MCU has leveled up its slapstick humor, and it’s more apparent in “Endgame” than any other movie except “Thor: Ragnarok” (2017).

    The problem is not with the quality of the slapstick humor, it has always been funny and entertaining, but often the timing negatively influences the narrative flow.

    Disney and Marvel have made attempts to bring more equity to the MCU with the release of “Captain Marvel” and the planned “Blackwidow” solo movie, but this movie itself fails to deliver much screen time to its cast of women, due mostly in part to the movie’s emphasis on the original cast of Avengers.

    Characters that could have received more screen time were unable to because the course of events had already been locked in from the previous movies before the decision to adjust character attention to make it more equitable, making “Endgame” a victim to the rest of the franchise with most of the blame being laid at the feet of “Avengers: Infinity War.”

    Despite predictable character arcs that manage to effectively use events from the entire MCU, the emotional delivery of the whole cast never steps to be believable.

    While it has taken a while to get used to Chris Hemsworth’s depiction of the “God of Thunder,” even his performance is believable, while not as authentic as longtime comic book fans of Thor would prefer.

    Thor needed the change in humor and demeanor for the MCU to fit into the character change we see Tony Stark go through and become a darling of the franchise for it.

    Fan service was going to be necessary to keep an audience happy for “Endgame,” so it was not a surprise that the movie would be loaded with references to other movies and the characters that took center stage in those movies, more so because this is a cross-over movie.

    “Endgame” was never going to tell a self-contained story: it was going to connect characters from across multiple movies, even if their appearance lasted as long as five minutes.

    Even though that fan service takes up half of the film, its execution is spot on. A few moments were clearly added for laughs and might have been cut worthy, but their total run time would not have made a major impact on the overall movie.

    With its three-hour run time and 66 cast members with named roles — even more with generic names — the amount of visual information was bound to be enormous, but the movie managed to keep the information presented well through clean cinematography, and even cleaning post-production visual effects from the ever impressive Industrial Light and Magic.

    The team working on the film managed to avoid the odd looking CGI that destroyed the immersion of the airport scene in “Civil War.”

    The movie is dense with events and characters, making for a lot of moving parts to follow, but the parts are presented remarkably well, leaving me with only one question that I hope will be answered in another movie that’s scheduled for release.

    Preventing plot holes in a three-hour movie with such a large cast is an incredible feat, and for the movie to only present one through an act of omission lends credence to the quality writing and post-production work done on the film.