Movies are important. They possess the ability to be monumental cultural events that draw masses, of every creed, nation and ideology into theater and cineplexes all over the world. In spite of our differences we all sit in the dark, collectively listening, conversing and sharing in a single event, which is especially miraculous in an era dictated by the condensed, miniaturized experiences of the digital age. Approaching Avengers: Endgame I retained all of these optimistic thoughts about the potentiality of the being of cinema… they lingered through the first dramatic scene of the film, easily it’s most subtle and poignant… before having these views challenged, assaulted and degraded on the screen before me. Avengers: Endgame is a grotesque perversion of cinema, “entertainment” disguised as a movie, a bleeding, bloated bouncy house of capital influence and corporate media power.
To judge this film compared to others would be unfair, Avengers: Endgame is a machine produced to generate dollars and little more, as a result Endgame is essentially a three-hour long video game cutscene featuring cameos from every famous person in the Marvel universe making quips, doing air kicks and giving rousing speeches. This would all be good fun if any of them were actually characters. Any personality that these individuals had in their respective films, whether it was the Guardians, Iron Man, the royalty of Wakanda, have all been reduced to cheap one liners and brief glimpses of screen time. The only two to retain any of their wit and spark were Hulk and Thor fresh off their fun in Taiki Waiti’s Ragnarok, their chemistry remains undiminished, Ruffalo might be the only person who actually looks like he’s having any fun.
Where Ragnarok, Winter Soldier, Black Panther, Guardians, all had a consistent style, Endgame is absolutely tone-deaf. It attempts to retain a small aspect of the entire groups respective solo films and as a result becomes a tasteless smorgasbord of weak melodrama, self-pitying elite entitlement, and damp comedy. On the note of self-pity, never have I so readily sympathized with a villain as that of Thanos, the arrogance, hubris and downright naivety of the Avengers crew deserved to be reprimanded, the powerful need to be policed, they cannot simply undo their mistakes, for we are the ones who suffer, not them. The amount of time this film spends with Tony Stark moping over his bad decisions is absolutely obnoxious, there was no feeling I could give his character that he deserved, when he actually did the relatively mature thing in the end I was frustrated because of how relative it was, that character ruined his daughter’s life, and humanities I suppose, so really what’s one more kid?
The most fun Endgame became was when it pretended to be a spy film, the montage of getting all of the infinity stones from their past selves was silly, cute and light, but then the realization settles that they are enacting this whole scheme to save humanity and treating it with all the seriousness of a late night poker game. It didn’t really matter though because the time travel element made absolutely no sense, and served as no more than a plot device to unravel all of the events of the last film. If you sat through two and a half hours of Infinity War in anticipation for Endgame, the main plot conceit was just a good way to get audiences to pay for the same thing twice. The film is shameless in its presentation which is perhaps the ugliest part to watch, it has no illusions about it’s being a brand, another way to conglomerate wealth for the few, and that’s perhaps because everyone is in on it.
I would like not to give this film a proper score. Here is why: this is not a movie.
Rating such a thing as Avengers: Endgame is actually an undeniably abstract task. How do you write a film review for something that isn’t one? Endgame speaks the language of beer commercials, billboard advertising, and late night cable news; propaganda in the clothes of entertainment. If Marvel is to move forward with “franchising” then we should start calling these films exactly that, they are not movies, they do not contain genre, tone, style, actors, mise-en-scene because they are franchises, their purpose is not to be concerned with the craft that comprises a film, but rather with the amount of heads it can gather in a theater. From the hands of Marvel they have molded cinema into its most capitally driven form, movies have completely turned away from themselves, they have become money maker first, piece of celluloid second, it’s learned to forget it’s own name, scoffing at the notion of “art”, “beauty”, “pathos”, “ethos”, “logos”, “love”, “hate”, “entertainment”, “laughter”, “sorrow”, “patience” “violence”, “reconciliation”, “evil”. Cinema must learn once again to look at itself, called by its own name, otherwise it may be lost to powers beyond its own care, who receive little value from its deep revelations and only from its capital reward.