This really isn’t just one movie. It’s the culmination of a 10 year endeavor that began with a gamble on a troubled Hollywood actor in Robert Downey Jr. and that making good movies that people enjoyed would overcome having to rely on B and C list characters from the Marvel Comics roster. It’s also the payoff to be considered when we were given an entry that was entertaining enough but obviously put in place to keep the train running like Iron Man 3 or Ant-Man. If you were unimpressed with a film in the chain, or didn’t think it was good at all, then this movie was to be the ultimate repayment for fostering Marvel some goodwill and not holding it against them. It was also the ultimate cherry on top of a sundae that was being built for 10 years with all the toppings and your favorite flavors. Either way you want to slice it, this was the coup de grace for a decade of excellence in filmmaking.
Let me just say up front that I’m not giving a grade here. This one is bigger than a grade because it’s so much more than a standalone film. This is like if George Lucas made standalone films and sequels for Luke, Han, Leia, and the Droids before making Star Wars. So while it’s fine to comment on likes or dislikes about the film I think it’s a bit much to assign a letter or number grade to this one, because unless the movie was bad (which of course it wasn’t) explaining why you gave it whatever while you gave something clearly not as good a score not much lower because of the way your scale works seems kinda silly to me. ‘How can you give this 9.5 out of 10 and Justice League 8.5? Are you crazy?’ is not an argument I’m trying to have, to be honest. Yes, it’s better than Justice League. That’s all I got on that front. But what about this movie? OK, let’s dig in.
So many characters got the leveling up that had been put on hold for a while. Thor in particular was an MVP candidate for the film. After finally moving in that direction during Thor: Ragnarok, we got the real Thor here. Yeah it shouldn’t have taken this long to get here but I’ll take it. Scarlet Witch and Dr. Strange got to cut loose in a fashion more like what we’ve seen in the comics as well. The power levels not being up to snuff for some of the heroes and villains has been a complaint I’ve seen pop up from time to time; it’s not that big of a deal for me because these movies would be over in 30 minutes if the scaled up versions of these characters were being used. But either way it was great to see those three do their thing.
The character juggling was done about as well as you could expect. Yes, some of your personal favorites may have less time than you would like but that was more than made up for by what they did with the people who did get more time. There’s no way to make everyone sufficiently happy on that front but they came as close as you possibly could.
As is the case with these films the character interactions were top notch. Whether it was Tony Stark with Peter Parker or Strange or Star-Lord, we got the humor and interplay we were looking for. The stuff with Thor and Rocket was great, too. And the action team ups, oh my god. You think you’ve seen it all and they pull out some new stuff. And for the first time in a long time the good guys were up against competition that was physically imposing and could bring the fight to them in a way that was truly suspenseful. You legit did not know how these fights were going to end until they actually did. And the false finishes (to use a wrestling term) in some of the Thanos fights were downright spectacular.
Speaking of Thanos, he gets my vote for best villain of the series. Because the characters on the good side were already established they were able to spend the whole movie on the Mad Titan. And along the way we got an indepth look at his relationship with his adopted daughter Gamora, some killer lines, and what was basically an inverted version of the hero’s quest starring the villain. That was a bold exercise in storytelling there. What made him a great villain was his presence, his persona, his overall threat level, his quotable lines, and that he kicked everyone’s ass. Those are the things that make a memorable movie villain; all that talk about motivations and plans is overrated. No one cared about Darth Vader’s deeper motivations in Star Wars. He showed up, had personality, kicked ass, and looked great doing it. And that’s what Thanos did here in spades. Thanos was the ultimate makeup for being subjected to Malkeith, the fake Mandarin, and Yellowjacket among others.
Nothing major here. If you had more than personal quibbles or preferences I gotta question what movie you were watching for real. No movie is perfect but if you’re whining about lack of character introductions all I can say is that maybe you need to watch some of the previous films before you see this one. Do I have some personal quibbles? Of course. Enough to trash the movie over? Heck no. Here they are.
Depending on your point of view some of the character depictions may rub you the wrong way. Hulk’s ongoing issue throughout the movie was a bit annoying to some; I was fine with it until the end when it wasn’t paid off the way I think it should have been (and the Russo brothers haven’t explained it well in some recent interviews, so much that it looks lime they had an entirely different idea of what it meant). Also, with so many onscreen romantic relationships getting fleshed out why was the one between he and Black Widow all but ignored after all the previous buildup? I know a lot of people on the internet didn’t like it but so what? Maybe it gets the resolution is deserves in Avengers 4. I sure hope so. It required the least amount of time to further develop of all the onscreen pairings save Tony and Pepper, so in my opinion adding a few lines and another minute or so to the movie wasn’t asking too much.
The ending is pretty abrupt and you may or may not like that. My initial reaction was ‘wow, they’re just gonna end it like that?’ So for now that’s a negative but on repeat viewings I may think differently. I’ve seen the comparisons to Empire Strikes Back but by the end of that one the good guys reached a safe harbor of sorts to regroup. Not the case here. And I felt that the degree to which they went to show that Thanos had indeed won the day was a bit much and a tell that a lot of his victory, if not all of it, is going to be totally undone next year in Avengers 4. Some of the character choices for who got dealt with were too much of a giveaway as to what will come next, and you could do that pre-internet but with so many of us knowing who has sequels already being developed and whose contracts are up after the next film it kinda takes some of the wind out of the sails.
I felt kinda disappointed in myself as the movie ended. The parts along the way that were meant to rip your heart out did do that for me, and the swerves did have the desired effect of shock and surprise, but the ending just didn’t get to me the way I saw it did for so many people. And I blame myself for that. Over the past year or so I’ve gotten disenchanted with the whole movie hype/gossip process – the teaser trailers, multiple trailers, gossip rags turning routine moviemaking stuff like reshoots into MAJOR CONTROVERSIES, and the reactions they invoke on social media. It really can put a damper on moviegoing if you let it, and I am guilty of letting it do that. Seeing people tear down a really good movie like Ready Player One months before it dropped, some in what seemed like an attempt to make the thing tank at the box office, was pretty disheartening.
It’s a testament to Marvel Studios and particularly the people behind the scenes that they’ve been able to thrive in this kind of environment; it helps that they had a ton of goodwill built up before that stuff really took hold but even then there have been some lame attempts to pick at them in the same way others have been picked at the last few years. It really bums me out to think about what would have happened if this had all been around when George Lucas was making Star Wars. Pretty much everything that could have gone wrong in the moviemaking process did go wrong there, and today’s media would have obliterated it with stories and clickbait articles while social media would have crowned it a terrible film before anyone even saw it. I imagine that at least in the early going at Marvel there were some backstage snafus and things that went wrong that were beyond anyone’s control, the same as with any studio. As a fan be happy that they were able to get through those moments and to the point of presenting us something wonderful like this.
No need for excess pontificating here. Movie’s great, go see it. More than once. Best of the MCU? Quite possibly.