Spoilers for Avengers: Endgame ahead.
Avengers: Endgame. An epic film 10 years in the making. It delivered on the great conclusion and audiences love it. But in 10 more years, it may not be remembered so fondly.
The Marvel masterpiece raises the specter of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in many significant ways. That film, too, had a massive build and smashed box office records. Critics and audiences praised it and the director. It was the rebirth of Star Wars, but there was always a sense that something wasn’t quite right with it for a small segment of audiences.
So years later (and after the cinematic catastrophe that was its sequel, The Last Jedi), fans have revisited TFA and found its many, many problems. Conveniences abound, world building is non-existent. Mysteries exist for mystery sake and characters fail to have any real characterization. And a beloved character dies in a climatic scene.
It’s not a perfect parallel in its elements to Endgame, but it’s similar in a broader sense. Fan service, intrigue, and a few good moments plaster over the many plot holes and logical inconsistencies.
Years from now or maybe sooner, today’s fans are not going to look back so fondly on this film. They’ll return to Chubby Thor playing Fortnite; bizarre time hopping and alternate realities and that raise so many questions of how, when, and why; the Avengers plan in general; the off screen creation of Professor Hulk; Bucky not being made the next Captain America, and Captain Marvel’s tacked on parts. There are more issues, but I’m not trying to be comprehensive here.
The biggest problem for me comes from the Avengers plan. They use the gauntlet to bring everyone back that was snapped away 5 years ago. This is what Tony Stark wanted/demanded to keep his family. It’s hard to blame the guy for this plan without sounding ungrateful, but it’s still a hard thing to accept.
That decision made, the Avengers return the survivors to the present, creating a horrible dystopia. In five years, people have moved on from the loved ones they lost, killed themselves from grief, and died from other causes. The result is this world where half the population returns to a world where most of them no longer belong, some are missing family members, and society no longer has the capacity to sustain them after letting infrastructure decay. Confusion, new grief, rage, starvation, and global riots await them after being gone for subjective seconds.
And that’s just on Earth.
It’s an issue the screenwriters could have completely avoided had they not chosen the story option of Thanos destroying the Infinity Gems. Had they not given Thanos the capacity to do that, there would not have been a need for a 5-year time skip or time travel in general. That story decision is the root of almost all of the major problems with the script. The only reason I think they did that was to have the time travel plots to revisit the previous films. In a sense, they wanted to close out the story with a quasi-clip show.
The workaround would have been to have the Avengers steal most of the gems from a wounded but healing Thanos, who is preparing to return to his duties ruling his empire to curb the chaos his snap created, and then watching the Avengers race around the cosmos trying to build a new gauntlet while protecting the gems from Thanos. If the writers are still married to the time traveling, then the Avengers could have inexpertly used the Time stone to try to escape to the past with the various stones for brief periods of time. In the climax, they finish the gauntlet, get the rest of the gems from Thanos, and Tony snaps to bring everyone back and all his returned allies to the new battlefield. That’s just one thought.
Where the MCU goes from here is anyone’s guess. There are movies scheduled to be produced and we have some idea of which heroes will comprise the next wave of Avengers, but Endgame undercut a lot of interest in any story that follows. Multiple timelines/realities reduce the stakes, as nothing really matters in such a multi-verse. Lesser-known and less-liked heroes won’t have the time they need to endear themselves to audiences while grappling with threats far below the threat Thanos represented. And the prime timeline is pretty messed up thanks to the reasons mentioned above with bringing back half the population of everything after 5 years.
Endgame did future stories and heroes no favors in this regard. This lack of establishing a solid launch platform for the next phase will further tarnish the legacy of this film as the new films premiere to decaying fan interest.
Maybe I’m wrong about this. Maybe tonight’s episode of Game of Throne made me salty. We’ll see.