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Feature Article

Review: Marvel's Avengers Endgame Is A Messy But Enjoyable Conclusion To The Saga

A love letter to the MCU--all of it.

Marvel's biggest movie ever, Avengers: Endgame, is now in theaters. To say the newest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is doing well would be selling it very short. It's crushed box office records and already become the eighth biggest movie of all time, and it's only been out for a single week. But is it any good? Read on for our review. For an in-depth discussion of the film, watch GameSpot's spoiler-filled Avengers: Endgame video review.

Whether you've already seen the movie or still planning to do so, we've got lots more for you to check out. We've rounded up Endgame's many Easter eggs and references, and we have a look ahead at the upcoming Phase 4 of the MCU, which we're getting a better sense of now that we've seen the movie. And if you're worried about making it through the whole three hours without a trip to the bathroom, we have some advice on when to pee during Endgame--this is very important, as there's a lot you can potentially miss if you go at the wrong time. We've also got the rundown on what to expect (or not) from the credits.

How do you wrap up a movie as big as Infinity War--hell, a franchise as expansive as the Marvel Cinematic Universe? How do you tie up the loose ends, close the time loops, and fulfill the character arcs of almost two dozen movies and over a decade of storytelling? According to co-directors Joe and Anthony Russo, they knew what they were getting themselves into with this whole thing--they wanted this ultimate conflict to be so complex and desperate that they'd be challenged to envision a way forward. And they definitely created that challenge.

The question now is whether that challenge paid off. And the answer, like the challenge itself, is complicated.

Avengers: Endgame absolutely works as a blockbuster movie experience. If you're at all invested in the plight the remaining Avengers face after the events leading up to and including Infinity War, you will feel satisfied with this movie. The much-discussed three-hour runtime is no joke, but almost every minute of it is used well, barring some extended gag scenes that probably could have been left for the Blu-ray. Endgame manages to tie the entire MCU up with a beautiful, emotional, gut-wrenching, hopeful conclusion, which is an undeniable achievement.

But it also frequently loses the thread, especially as the remaining Avengers break into distinct teams and embark on their own separate missions in an extremely complex series of plots and sub-plots to defeat Thanos once and for all. Part of the problem is that simply defeating him isn't enough--understandably, they want to undo what he did, as well. And their methods for doing so create infinite potential for plot holes, hand-waving, and rules that seem to get established in one scene and broken in the next. In other words, the Russos and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely wrote themselves into a corner, and writing themselves out of it became maybe more complex than any movie--even one that's three hours long--could have possibly supported.

The clips that have been released leading up to Endgame's release take place almost entirely within the first few scenes of the movie. Eventually, the Avengers split and head off in very different directions, and the teams that form aren't the most obvious pairings. A huge chunk of the movie--most of the middle, in fact--feels itself like a bizarro take on the original Avengers formula, one where cosmic Marvel intercepted with Earth Marvel much earlier, where Don Cheadle and a daughter of Thanos team up and blast off into space together.

It's so fun. There are a ton of twists and turns, and at every stage Endgame will turn your expectations upside-down. Characters you thought would live will die, and characters you never expected to see again will reappear where and when you least anticipate it. This really is the movie where everything from the MCU comes together all at once--Infinity War felt stuffed to the brim at times, but it has absolutely nothing on the bursting mess that is Endgame. Even diehard MCU fans will struggle to recognize every random side character who makes a cameo, every one-liner that's actually a callback to a callback from a movie from years ago, and every other reference that seems familiar but you just can't quite place it because, come on, there are more than 20 of these movies and it's been a decade.

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Infinity War was the cliffhanger of the MCU, and Endgame is its cathartic climax. There's a battle that rivals Infinity War's final clash, but with even more characters. It feels less personal as a result--there are fewer epic hero moments like Thor's grand, crackling entrance into the Wakanda battle in Infinity War, and there are characters who have led their own movies who get one or two lines in this entire thing--or none at all. It was impressive how Infinity War felt like every character got some time in the spotlight, but Endgame doesn't try to replicate that. This movie is about the core Avengers, and the background characters and supporting cast around them are just that.

Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark kicked the MCU off with the original Iron Man, and in many ways he's the main character of this movie as well. The actor has come to completely embody Iron Man, and Endgame totally does him justice. Chris Evans' Captain America is arguably just as important, and he has quite an arc in this film. I won't spoil anything about Bruce Banner except to say his situation has changed a lot since the last time we saw him, and Mark Ruffalo's performance in this movie isn't marred by any distracting floating head CG like in Infinity War's final fight. Scarlett Johansson has always brought a lot of warmth to the role of Natasha, a character who should by rights be a stone cold killer, and Black Widow is arguably the team's beating heart. And as anyone who saw the trailers anticipated, Clint undergoes a significant transformation, although honestly the movie could have spent even more time on that.

Even with all the ground Endgame has to cover, it also has time for plenty of smaller, emotional moments--arguably too many, as it's easy to view the movie with a clinical eye and imagine all the scenes here and there that could have been surgically cut to make it leaner. The events of Infinity War truly screwed the world up, and scenes like seeing Captain America leading a survivors' support group emphasize the trauma. Some of these characters have changed a lot by the time we catch up with them--you'll be surprised by Thor's arc here.

But most of all Endgame is a love letter to the entire MCU--the whole thing. It's messy and confusing, and there's going to be a lot of discussion about whether the ending even makes sense--it basically breaks the rules set up throughout the entire movie leading up to it. But holy hell is it an emotional, fulfilling ride. I have no doubt we're going to spend the coming weeks picking and pulling it apart until we've over-analyzed every single aspect imaginable. But right now, in the aftermath, Avengers Endgame feels like a win.

The GoodThe Bad
The chemistry among all these charactersBreaks its own rules several times
Creative team-ups feel freshPlot winds up feeling messy
Multiple genuinely surprising twistsDubious logic at multiple points, including the ending
Clever gags and great overall sense of humor
Doesn't shy away from story's darker aspects
Feels like both a love letter to and an ending for the MCU
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

mrougeau

Michael Rougeau

Mike Rougeau is GameSpot's Senior Entertainment Editor. He loves Game of Thrones and dogs.
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Avatar image for jedijax
jedijax

I've finally watched the movie and feel your review was far too kind, Michael. Endgame is a mess of a storyline that continuously betrays the rules and coherence set by previous films for the sake of cheap fanservice and shock value. It misses the mark on almost every single aspect save for comedy and CGI cool. It's mediocre at best, and seems only successful as a dignified send-off for Robert Downey Junior.

Avatar image for heatherthefan
heatherthefan

AVENGERS ENDGAME HAS A MILE LONG LIST OF PROBLEMS

they got a dozen or so items wrong including the time travel scenario but pffft what the heck if half the movie is messed up

The Time Travel setup they got COMPLETELY WRONG, there can be NO DOUBLES of you on any timeline and you CANNOT kill your previous self while your future self lives on (Nebula) for a detailed critique read the entire editorial from West Coast Midnight Run in the MEMBERS AREA

https://cover.midnighttracks.org/avengers-endgame

Avatar image for Reuwsaat
Reuwsaat

I felt that the Thor's bit was trying too hard to be funny at times, but at the end of the movie I felt I paid too little for that ticket. Simply incredible.

Avatar image for michaeldark
michaeldark

I'm not convinced the Avengers are the good guys in this movie. Maybe Thanos was right all along. Check this video:

https://youtu.be/dE_IV7BLG0E

Avatar image for santinegrete
santinegrete

The movie indeed feels like a love letter to any follower of the saga and it´s entertaining to boot, but I suggest you watch this movie anywhere, anytime, with your brain & logic on stand-by.

Avatar image for dunnington
Dunnington

It wasn’t satisfying!!! Spoilers ahead....

It was indeed very messy and a lot of lazy writing. Why not just keep going back and forth and change whatever they want? I was okay with new timeline realities being created but they throw that completely out the window at the very end in a Back to the Future sort of way.

MCU has done such a terrific job with these films and story line. But they got lazy with this one unfortunately and left way too many plot holes.

Avatar image for heatherthefan
heatherthefan

@dunnington: Time travel is ALL MESSED UP and a dozen or so other contradictions and flaws in story and concept, they violated their own rules set up by the franchise (setting aside the comic books)

The complete review from this outlet is mind boggling (in the Members area)

https://cover.midnighttracks.org/avengers-endgame

Avatar image for cejay0813
cejay0813

Good movie but very accurate review as far as it being extremely messy. Plot hole city!

Avatar image for kevinwalker0210
KevinWalker0210

Maybe someone already mentioned this, but I pretty sure the opening scene established the core principle of Endgame: family. Yes, there was a lot to love and a lot to hate on (Thor's description of the reality stone should have earned a warning from the Me Too Movement). Every characters storyline converged on that Nexus point. Without it, none of the sacrifices made sense. Without it none of the "bad guys" earned redemption. Hell, love or hate it, at least be thankful that we have something to talk about unrelated to the current resident of the White House.

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02050muh

I only hope Thor will be one of the members of Guardians of The Galaxy in the third film :)

Avatar image for cejay0813
cejay0813

@02050muh: Asguardians of the Galaxy

Avatar image for pongman1975
Pongman1975

Awesome, awesome, awesome movie. Very fitting end to one of the best movie sagas ever made. I dont see Marvel doing one of this scale anytime soon. The 3 hours surely went by fast. Dont get what this "messy" statement means. Couldve been those optical harddrives GS uses.(Sorry GS, had to say it). Your move DC. Good luck with that tho.

Avatar image for heatherthefan
heatherthefan

@pongman1975: I had to fight off the urge to go to sleep through the first part of the film and the problems I ticked off are small compared to the problems (plural) THIS REVIEW TICKED OFF (Members area complete review)

https://cover.midnighttracks.org/avengers-endgame

Avatar image for pongman1975
Pongman1975

@heatherthefan: lighten up, its Science Fiction... Not to be taken seriously.

Avatar image for Ovirew
Ovirew

I figured I would eventually go see Endgame, since it seemed like the culmination of a decade of building this cinematic universe. Up until I made the spur-of-the-moment decision to see it tonight, it was a happens-when-it-happens sort of thing.

When I left Infinity War last year I thought it was a good flick, but I felt a bit conflicted about things. It felt like another Avengers movie, but much more dire, to the point of mainstream conversational overkill. IW was a good movie, but a bittersweet one.

But when I left Endgame... I was completely satisfied. It was fitting, and felt right. It had several funny moments to balance out the melancholy, and everything seemed like a natural progression for the characters from the changes they had undergone by the previous Avengers film. It was well worth seeing, and I'm happy I went. The cameo mid-way through the movie was perhaps the best one of those yet, as well.

Avatar image for ripken48
Ripken48

Until someone ultimately creates a way for us to conduct time travel, I'm just not going to let the holes in stories it creates bother me anymore. The entire concept is based around multiple paradoxes. I thought this movie did a remarkable job remembering that its source material is comic books and giving some beautifully fitting endings to some beloved characters. In multiple ways, I might add. The jumping around didn't bother me at all. In fact, it gave us one ending for a character that we've wanted for them for years. Without that time travel it would have never happened.

I'm usually one to pick apart plot holes and question things in movies. This time, though, I just enjoyed seeing all of my favorite superheroes on the screen together for the last time.

It's not the best Marvel movie. Not by a long shot. It's absolutely the most fulfilling though. I left wanting for nothing.

Avatar image for Janpieterzun
Janpieterzun

Thor becoming a fat depressed fortnite playing loser after his defeat brought me joy to my heart.

Avatar image for heatherthefan
heatherthefan

@Janpieterzun: yeah it's like Iron Man becomes vulnerable to KRYPTONITE

A huge flaw in the story if they were wrapping up on Thor and Thor Dark World, there were a dozen BS problems in the movie which messed up half the film and the other half? I almost snored through it

Gotta read this review (the version in the MEMBERS ONLY AREA it will make your eyes bleed because you wont believe the poop rolled up and sugar coated in Endgame).

https://cover.midnighttracks.org/avengers-endgame

Avatar image for santinegrete
santinegrete

@Janpieterzun: yeah me too, it still scared me that such product is still relevant after 5 years lol

Avatar image for cejay0813
cejay0813

@Janpieterzun: Funniest part in the whole movie

Avatar image for KiriharaZro
KiriharaZro

Too much hype

Avatar image for ripken48
Ripken48

@KiriharaZro: you're such a rebel. You keep up the good fight so the man doesn't win.

Avatar image for gamingdevil800
gamingdevil800

Honestly I didn't like it as much as I thought I would. Some questionable decisions with Thanos imo.

Avatar image for cejay0813
cejay0813

@gamingdevil800: Some questionable decisions all around. If you don't overthink it, the movie is amazing.

Avatar image for PrpleTrtleBuBum
PrpleTrtleBuBum

@cejay0813: even ghostbusters 2016 is ok brainmelting fun if youve had 12 beers and 8 shots of liquor

this movie sure opened a can of worms. and the time travel certainly didnt seem to cause issues.

what i want to see in phase 4 is that thanos tried to save the universe but now galactus has awoken, dormammu unleashes his super form on earth etc etc. make heroes regret what they did. because that should be the lesson with every time travel story. if time travel just causes good things then its an infinite plot device to fix anything. its what ruined terminator, and its what has ruined most long running comic lines until they need to be retconned

just go back until you can save the messiah character too

personally i like to imagine this ended with the first snap. thor turned into a gamer and lived his life happily ever after with 3 billion other people

but this time travel cloning resurrecting interdimensional stuff is baked so deep in the dna of comic stories that i guess this had to happen to make mcu a proper replica of comic world. this movie is essentially that one last messy issue before publisher pulls the plug and reboots a comic line

Avatar image for monkyby87
monkyby87

@PrpleTrtleBuBum: They’ve paid the price for doing time travel. It’s not the magic fix. They had to sacrifice to do so.

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lorddaggeroff

Holly shy, why do account holders spam GameSpot what incentive is there to do that.

Avatar image for ultralof
Ultralof

Not too shabby.
I liked the Captain Marvel movie, but in this one she felt very tacked on. Like why wasnt she invited to the quantum shenanigans?

Best scene: Captain America in the elevator!

Avatar image for ripken48
Ripken48

@ultralof: Agreed. I seem to be in the minority in that I really liked Captain Marvel. That said, why make it seem like she was our only hope at the end of Infinity war of the plan was to give her 7 minutes of screen time in a 3 hour movie?

Avatar image for ultralof
Ultralof

@ripken48: I dont think we ARE a minority. Its just that some people are just some damn outspoken. The loud minority if you will. If you ignore the seething internet fan bois I think the general populace had nothing against it.

Avatar image for NiteX
NiteX

@ultralof: I wish she was in it even less. She sticks out like a sore thumb and just doesn't work AT ALL with the rest of the cast. I didn't mind the character as long as she didn't talk. As soon as she said anything it was cringe.

Avatar image for ultralof
Ultralof

@NiteX: I read that they shot Avengers FIRST and THEN Captain Marvel, so she hadnt had that much time to "get into character" so to speak.
I thought she worked just fine, but she hadnt had like... 3 to 10 movies to get into the swing of things, so idunno

Avatar image for ryuburger
ryuburger

@ultralof: Hail Hydra! Genius thinking by Cap instead of unneccesary fighting

Avatar image for ultralof
Ultralof

@ryuburger: also kinda cool how it was a easter egg to the 2016 comic when he said Hail Hydra, and everybody reading lost their marbles. (turned out he was brainwashed to THINK he was a sleeper agent)

Avatar image for ryuburger
ryuburger

@ultralof: Yeah I know right? The diehards need to appreciate the subtle nods and winks that the MCU likes to throw at us instead of just being baseless fan service

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ratchet200

Just saw it and i can say that the plot isn't messy at all. You might end up with a couple of questions when the movie finishes but it's not hard to follow at all.

Avatar image for cejay0813
cejay0813

@ratchet200: That's why its described as messy. The plot isn't hard to follow but it's full of holes. The review is pretty accurate as far as the good and bad breakdown

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