×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Avengers: Endgame's 5 best and 5 worst things

The blockbuster to beat all blockbusters is finally here. Avengers: Endgame is Marvel's love letter to its own Cinematic Universe, as well as to the legion of fans who stan the MCU as the gold standard in big-screen superhero storytelling. A crossroads for characters from the 21 MCU films before it, Endgame manages to deftly balance a boggling amount of subplots in its epic three-hour runtime, delivering an uneven yet ultimately satisfying ending to this chapter of Marvel's mega-moviemaking.

Packed with Easter eggs and references to Marvel's rich past, Endgame certainly delivers as a capstone to what came before it, but it's far from perfect. Considering the immense pressure the Russo brothers were under to put a bow on Marvel's historic big-screen Avengers run, there were bound to be a few rough edges and loose ends. From its early stumbles to its stirring finish, here are the five worst and five best things about Marvel's latest genre juggernaut. Warning: Massive spoilers ahead!

Worst: A slow start

Infinity War is a tough act to follow, with all the Spider-Man-dissolving and whatnot. Half the life in the MCU was just snuffed out! So it's no surprise that Endgame starts on a hopeless note. But Infinity War's infamously brutal finish, unfortunately, makes the first 20 minutes or so of Endgame a bit of a slog. It's a glaring weak spot, especially for a film with such an epic runtime.

There's a gap between the Hawkeye-centered cold open and the title card, in particular, that feels stagnant, especially considering the thrill ride to come. Part of the reason for that is trailer fatigue: Marvel did a great job limiting promotional footage mainly to these early moments, but the downside to that decision is that the start of the film feels like watching the trailers and TV spots all over again, without enough fresh material mixed in to make it feel like the film has properly started.

Tony's moving helmet speech, the team hashing out a plan, Captain Marvel getting the Thor Seal of Approval — all great moments, but the bonkers post-title card action is what's going to be dissected and discussed for years to come.

Best: It's surprisingly moving

Mayonnaise on hot dogs! Endless hamburgers! "I love you 3000"! AARP Cap! There are a surprising number of moving moments in Endgame, especially considering it's arguably the biggest Hollywood blockbuster action spectacle ever conceived, with an epic battle scene centerpiece that feels like it was choreographed by a pack of bright 11-year-olds on a sugar binge.

Happy Hogan's tearjerking hamburger funeral talk to Tony's daughter Morgan, for example, works on a meta level, since former character actor-turned-Hollywood hotshot director Jon Favreau helmed 2008's Iron Man, which kickstarted the MCU. So it's fitting that Favreau got to exercise his understated (and underrated) acting chops in a surprisingly touching moment, which also hearkens back to all the hamburger talk in Iron Man.

But Happy's brief tender moment is just one tiny beat in Endgame that likely had moviegoers stifling sobs. There's the "sacrifice off" for the Soul Stone between Hawkeye and Black Widow, Tony's ultimate sacrifice, Peter Parker and Mr. Stark reuniting, Tony connecting with his father in 1970 — the list goes on and on.

Worst: That runtime

While Endgame certainly feels better-paced overall than the occasionally sluggish Infinity War, the numbers don't lie. At just more than three hours long, you'll need to prepare accordingly, going easy on the soda and maybe even prepping your posterior with some Doctor Strange-style yoga. As Entertainment Weekly's Leah Greenblatt jokes, this isn't exactly a parking meter-friendly outing.

As satisfying as it is to spend this long with our favorite MCU heroes, some of these gags could have been saved for the Blu-ray or left on the cutting room floor. There is certainly fat to be trimmed in the trip to New Asgard (in more ways than one!), or in the uneven journey to New Jersey in 1970. The Howard and Tony scenes in this jaunt are effective, but this leg of the "Time Heist" overall remains arguably the weakest. It's certainly fun to see Marvel's nifty de-aging CGI used on Michael Douglas here, but Tony and Cap's quest in this era never really feels like it's in any real danger of being unfulfilled. It's one of many moments when the Russos could have exercised a bit more restraint in the editing bay.

Best: MCU genre-blending done right

Balancing the many moods of the MCU in one three-hour thesis statement is no mean feat. But the Russo brothers managed to do just that in Endgame, blending the cool, the cosmic, the bombastic, and the slapsticky sides of this vast and daunting universe with aplomb. It's also far funnier than you'd expect, considering the circumstances these heroes are in and how high the stakes are. But the gloom and doom just makes lines like Black Widow's "I get emails from a raccoon, so nothing seems crazy anymore" land even better. Gallows humor thrives in the post-Snapture MCU.

But there's also a healthy dose of refreshing silliness, most of it aimed at Thor, who's sporting a beer belly and getting compared to the Dude in The Big Lebowski by Tony Stark. Never mind the Last Action Hero-style switcheroo that would be necessary here, since Lebowski star Jeff Bridges also played Iron Man villain Obadiah Stane. It's a great gag to see the God of Thunder humbled in this way, compelled to shirk his highfalutin' Asgardian duties for more mortal endeavors, even if it overstays its welcome a bit. Speaking of which…

Worst: Fortnite

There are some tonally erratic moments in Endgame, with some emotional ping-ponging between post-apocalyptic hopelessness and cartoonishness. In other words: It's a comic book movie! But one moment that flat-out just doesn't work is when a tipsy Thor helps his buddy Korg navigate a session of Fortnite. A player named "noobmaster69" is giving Korg trouble, you see, since… wait, what movie is this again?

Look: There's nothing wrong with Fortnite per se, or including IRL pop culture in an MCU movie — and it'll age better than, say, the Bill Maher cameo in Iron Man 3 — but these are two great tastes that simply don't taste great together… at least not on film.

Inside the universe of Fortnite, it's a blast to use Avengers weapons and wreak comic book havoc, and unlike the wild world of unofficial GTA V modding, for example, Marvel actually teamed up with Fortnite to make that happen. But including a Fortnite scene in Endgame  — especially in a scene set five years in the future! — smacks of egregious and misplaced product placement.

Best: Time-traveling down memory lane

With its trippy and richly rewarding time-travel plot, Endgame feels in many ways like a "greatest hits" supercut of our favorite MCU moments. It's a fitting tribute, since it's the last time we'll see this particular cast of heroes together in maybe forever. It also feels a lot like 2012's Avengers — way more than Infinity War did — with the Whedonesque meta-banter about Back to the Future and the practicalities of time travel.

There's also an excellent callback to the elevator fight in 2014's Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the welcome return of Tilda Swinton's the Ancient One from Doctor Strange, the "instant kill mode" introduced in Homecoming finally put to good use by Spider-Man, and so much more. Creating an ode to your own creations is a tricky thing to get right, but Marvel and the Russos nailed it in Endgame, especially when the "Time Heist" action centers on the post-Battle of New York quest for the Tesseract, which unfolds in a really gripping way (plus the "America's Ass" payoff is one of the most crowd-pleasing moments in a film full of them).

Worst: Fat Thor

The Fortnite gag felt the most like a weak Saturday Night Live sketch, but the whole "What if Thor, but fat?" subplot was perhaps the most grating aspect of Endgame. There were certainly moments when the silliness served to inject some levity into the famously pompous Asgardian, but didn't Ragnarok do enough to make Thor a winning comic character? Chris Hemsworth is definitely up to the task of playing this kind of broad humor, but it went too far.

When Thor was having a panic attack at the sight of his mother, for example, Hemsworth was playing it for laughs, but the scene was really pretty tragic, bordering on PTSD. Thor had been undermined by this point by all the "wacky fatso" stuff — plus his character arc was counter to the development he saw in Ragnarok, when he learned to embrace his role as a leader. But now he's heading into space and bestowing Asgardian leadership to Valkyrie? It's a wacky little twist, made more believable and palatable by Hemsworth's winning performance, but something just feels off about it.

Best: The epic final battle

Endgame culminates with an extraordinary battle scene featuring an absurd amount of characters clashing on some totally scorched Earth, like a group of excited kids dumped a bucket of Marvel action figures in the dirt and spent the afternoon swooshing them through the air, banging them together until some kind of convoluted resolution was reached. It's kind of perfect!

It's an incredible sequence featuring a brain-melting amount of CGI, but that hardly matters when you're caught up in the majesty and brutality of it all. It's a whirlwind of badass character intros (Hello, Black Panther! Is that you, Spider-Man?), crowd-pleasing triumphs (Captain Thormerica!), and a meme-ready scene featuring the most powerful women in the MCU teaming up for the first time. It's almost too much to take in at once, but nothing in the MCU so far has captured the epic scope of the comics or brought to life what it would really be like if dozens of super-powered folks clashed in such a high-stakes battle.  

Worst: It's over

After 11 years and 22 MCU adventures, one of the worst things about Endgame is that it really lives up to the promise of its title. Sure, the MCU will live on via Disney+, with several characters toplining their own shows, and the big-screen MCU machine will grind on, churning out fare that's likely going to be excellent in its own way (especially the continued adventures of Tom Holland's Spider-Man, who managed to steal the little screen time he had in Endgame). But this particular special blend of characters will probably never again assemble in theaters.

But that said, Endgame is an excellent showcase and recap for all that the MCU Infinity Saga had to offer, skillfully blending all the elements that made this decade-plus run so winning into an epic that's ultimately satisfying and hard to quibble with. It's a film that's somehow both a perfect distillation of what makes these movies so entertaining and also an absolutely impenetrable outing for those not in the know. Call it "fan service" if you must, but considering the scope of what Marvel tackled here, it's remarkable that Endgame worked as well as it did while also skillfully setting up future adventures. Excelsior!

Best: Closure!

Cap's impossibly romantic time travel adventure to "get a life" with Peggy Carter is just one of many examples in Endgame of Marvel offering a real sense of closure in a cinematic universe that's been resistant to it from the first post-credits scene in Iron Man. In the 21 MCU films that preceded it, there was always a nagging sense of "What's next?" But with Endgame, Marvel finally made a film that truly feels like the end of a great saga.

The Russo brothers, in fact, even decided to omit a post-credits teaser this time around, a controversial move that reinforces the finality of the film's title, signaling to fans that this isn't a $350M advertisement for what's ahead, but a proper bookend to the film that started it all. We even get a triumphant "I am Iron Man!" from Tony Stark right before his ultimate sacrifice, echoing the end of the first MCU adventure.