Well, it wasn’t the final episode of M*A*S*H. If anything it was closer to the final episode of Cheers or Friends. And, not being a Harry Potter fan, it was a first time experience for me, a movie being the final episode of a series. But when you’ve got a name like Endgame, I guess the clues were there.
The things I liked most about it were the fact that it did something the comics haven’t done (or if they have, they’ve quickly undone it) and that is end the lead characters’ stories. If you’ve read this far then you should be ready for the spoiler that Iron Man is dead and Captain America has grown old gracefully. I loved both those endings. If the comics weren’t interminable soap operas, it would be great to have seen them do that, but in the Marvel Comic Universe that’s never been an option, for long.
My favourite bits were the human stories - Tony Stark meeting his dad, Captain America finally getting his date with Agent Carter - and the humour - Thor becoming a comedy character rather than a boring God was the best thing that ever happened to him.
The stories you were supposed to care about - Karen Gillen’s character vs her sister, her dad and herself have never gripped me, and I would have been quite happy if Hawkeye and Black Widow had both fallen off the cliff. They had gone from boring characters to non characters, which was a great shame.
As for the rest of the film, it’s a waste of time to go into the plot holes and time-travel inconsistencies (which Rich Johnston does rather well here, and Screen Rant does in pathological detail here), they were just silly. And they had their cake and ate it by name-dropping every other time-travel movie and then going on to be not-quite-as-good as any of them. Yes, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Back To The Future are way way better stories than Avengers Endgame, which nobody can deny.
And then there is the “who da hell is dat?” problem, that haunts every Marvel universe film. For everyone in the audience who had a) seen every previous movie in the series and b) cared enough to remember the details of what had happened in every one, there were a dozen people who hadn’t. I, for example, haven’t seen Captain Marvel. So her appearance as some kind of Deus Ex Machina with seemingly infinite powers was just disappointing and frustrating. I also haven’t seen the Tom Holland Spider-Man movies, so his inclusion in this and Infinity War was just rubbish. He adds nothing to the film other than being meat in the room, and not very interesting meat at that.
He has competition in the not-very-interesting-meat stakes, with at least 20 other characters being there simply so that everyone can say they were there. Benedict Wong must have had fun explaining his day at work filming his non-speaking part, standing there for a few seconds with his hands over his head and warranting a big credit at the end. In fact never have so many done so little for so much and so big a credit. (This topic covered more authoritatively in the New Yorker, here )
I’ll be honest, crossovers and multi-character stories were my least favourite comics as a Marvel-reading kid 40 years ago. When Thanos and the Avengers first teamed up in a big crossover annual by Jim Starlin and (I think) George Perez 45 years ago, I settled for reading my mate Steve’s copy, preferring the small scale intimacy of comics like Howard The Duck, Man Thing, Conan and Master Of Kung Fu. It wasn’t until I’d stopped being a regular Marvel reader that this sort of crossover nonsense got out of hand, in the 1980s, in the series Secret Wars (and its DC equivalent Crisis On Infinite Earths) that read as if it was a cynical effort to shoehorn every character into a series of interlinked comics in order to sell toys. Which, you won’t be surprised to learn, it was.
So Endgame is a pleasant coda to the series of films that have led here, some of which have been truly great pieces of light entertainment. I love two out of three Iron Man films, loved the first Captain America, love Guardians Of The Galaxy, Doctor Strange, Thor Ragnaraok, Avengers Assemble, and Ant Man, and have a lot of time for Black Panther. I’ll get round to seeing the ones I’ve missed eventually, cos none of them was a bad film (and all knock spots off the DC movies to date). But I’m glad it’s all over and I hope it’s an experiment no-one will feel the need to attempt again for a while. Or, if they do, I hope they screw it up and the audience gets bored of it, cos the novelty deserves to wear off soon.
PS: And another thing - five years was too long. The film leaps forward to five years after the “snap”, yet everyone is mourning and moping like they would six months after such an event. Five years is a long time and people have moved on and got positive by then. Look at 1950 as an example. We’re planning the Festival Of Britain, America’s all shiny cars and the birth of rock and roll, and someone in Japan’s starting work on Godzilla. Nobody’s moping around as if World War 2 just finished, and it lasted 6 years not just one day. See also 2006, five years after 9/11.
Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who et al, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries & art centres. email for details. Facebook, Twitter. Promo video here.