I think I’m done with superhero movies. When I was a wee lad of 7, the idea that one day I’d live in an age where all my favorite comic books were being made into movies would have felt like a gift. Unfortunately, Marvel movies are the same gift given over and over again—like the Omaha steaks Grandmother used to send me every year for Christmas. At first, the idea of delicious steaks mailed to my door seemed novel—finely cut to cook for a nice meal with my wife. After a few years, I got used to receiving yearly pieces of meat, but they lacked the same impact because I became accustomed to them. Eventually, I ended up with a freezer full of meat and a sneaking suspicion Grandma lacks variety in the gift-giving department.
Last year’s “Avengers: Infinity War” was a treat. The culmination of years of storytelling into a giant superhero team-up delivered thrills, chills and epic battles. It was the rare big-budget blockbuster that managed to be surprising and deliver excellent moments for the dozen or so heroes featured in a two-and-a-half hour adventure. Our heroes, The Avengers, have to try and undo the tragedy ushered in by Thanos (Josh Brolin) but also manage to undo a lot of what made the first installment of the finale so compelling.
To catch you up, Thanos got his hand on six powerful MacGuffins known as “Infinity Stones.” He forged powerful stones into a gauntlet and used newfound omnipotence to wipe out half of all living creatures in the universe because the universe needs balancing, or some kind of genocidal zen nonsense villains use to justify their murder boners. Surviving Avengers decide they need to track down the Mad Titan to reverse his universe-shattering snap, which is easier said than done.
In the aftermath of their tragic loss, Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) must put aside their ideological differences to come up with a plan that will bring back all loved ones they have lost. I don’t want to spoil the plot for anyone eagerly awaiting for the concluding installment, but I will say this: It’s the laziest, most convoluted storyline of any big-budget blockbuster of the 21st century. Directors Joe and Anthony Russo attempt to diffuse this painfully proposed scenario with humor, but all it did for me was expose how hackneyed the entire concept has become.
There are some genuinely good moments in “Avengers: Endgame”—nice bits of character-building as we watch some of our favorite superheroes dealing with tragedy and loss. I like the idea of seeing our heroes wallowing in defeat. Some become unhinged; others struggle to deal with the new normal, desperate to find any shred of life they had before. The interesting deep-dive into their downward spiral is quickly abandoned in favor of a typical ensemble joke-filled, stakes-killing humor party.
“Avengers: Endgame” walks a perilous line between serious and silly stumbles … a lot. There are so many moments steeped in drama, quickly diffused with a snappy joke or one-liner. The tone of the film feels so wildly inconsistent; it never reaches an appropriate synergy. The pendulum swings hard back and forth between comedy and tragedy, so both sides are negated.
The film’s strong start is matched by a solid ending. It’s the middle 90 minutes of the three-hour epic that is bloated and pointless. Characters meander through a nostalgic victory lap intended to make all the films of the last 10 years feel more important.
What should have been the Russo Brothers tying a nice tidy bow on 10 years of storytelling feels more like them tightly choking the stakes out of everything that happened in the previous installment. The only reason there’s any sense of gravitas at the end is because of an excellent cast who have ample opportunities to make heroes three-dimensional characters. Kudos to Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Hemsworth (Thor); their charisma has made so many of the movies worth watching.
Still, I think I’ve had my fill. The movies haven’t evolved; they just throw more stuff onto the screen in an attempt to seem more interesting. “Avengers: Endgame” is by no means a bad movie; it’s a messy and at times incoherent piece of entertainment relying too much on fan service to smooth over the rough edges.