Sure, Avengers: Endgame was the cinematic event of the modern age. No denying it. Spectacular visual effects, a mammoth main cast and closure over what has been a ludicrously epic journey so far. But does that mean that it was a flawless execution? Not necessarily. I know literally nothing, but here is something that I would have liked to see.
Don’t get me wrong. I love Endgame. It is a wonderful finale to what has been a spectacular ride, but there are still some bits that make me feel like the story could have been a lot more slick and seamless. The whole 2014 Thanos, Gamora and Nebula got a little bit messy, plus Thanos coming up with another huge plan to decimate the universe and rebuild it once more, along with a ludicrously large army of his followers felt a bit like overkill. The entire film up until that point had been delightful. We had seen some real emotion and trauma from our lead cast and the idea that a superhero film can be more than just dramatic CGI fights, and it would have been nice to see this ending piece done differently. From Hulk’s Snap onwards, the tension is somewhat diminished. The heroes succeeded. They got their families back, and the world is put to rights once more. And then Thanos turns up, with some super dramatic and overblown supervillain spiel, and I must confess I found myself groaning. Was it necessary? In some ways, I suppose, yes. All of the heroes needed to come together to have one last united fight against Thanos. However, it definitely could have happened differently.
So, the Avengers have returned to the present time, accompanied (unknowingly) with 2014 Nebula, who is intent on their plan failing. Why couldn’t the big battle at the end be over the Infinity Gauntlet and getting the erased universe back in place? That would have had more stakes to it. The heroes have worked their butts off getting this Gauntlet, and then suddenly Nebula and Thanos are trying to ruin it and stop it from happening. We could still have the wonderful fight that we still had following this moment, except now the emotional stake is the Snap not being reversed, instead of Thanos recreating the entire universe. Which sure, could have been the consequence of him getting the Infinity Gauntlet, but then at least the heroes would have more riding on him not getting his hands on it, because there would be fewer of them. The entire time in the original film, once the Snap has happened and all of the other creatures come back to the Universe, you are waiting for them all to appear. You know it’s going to happen, so when Captain America, Thor and Iron Man face off against Thanos, there is less tension, because you know that suddenly all of the rest of the cast are going to turn up as their backup.
Sure, we needed this sequence as a vehicle for Tony’s noble sacrifice. However, Tony’s sacrifice could still have come in the film in exactly the same way, the only difference being that it’s to reverse the Snap instead of destroying 2014 Thanos.
I can’t help but compare the Act 3 fight sequence in Endgame with the one in Infinity War. I find Infinity War‘s far more effective. It’s more personal and it’s more emotional. These heroes are desperate to prevent it from happening, while the tone in Endgame is much more victorious, which seems strange when they’re up against the trickiest odds in the whole film. The tone of Endgame is much more about the repercussions of loss and is meant to be about exploring these characters more, and yet the final fight sequence is more frenetic. Furthermore, Thanos seems significantly depowered here compared to the previous film. In Infinity War, Thanos manages to take out each of the Avengers in turn without too much difficulty. He is ridiculously overpowered, while here he requires an entire huge army to take them on. This is all unnecessary, and almost makes it less personal because it makes it just like any other superhero film, where you have a villain who has insane motives and a huge evil backing from their army of followers.
Alternatively, we could have had a confrontation between the remaining Avengers against Nebula, Thanos and the Black Order, instead of having a ridiculously sized army behind Thanos that makes you roll your eyes. Therefore, we could have had more of a visceral struggle between the Avengers and Thanos to get their hands on the gauntlet. Instead of the focus being on Thanos undoing what they have just achieved, it would be even more heartbreaking and crushing if they never had a chance to reverse the Snap in the first place, and instead he was turning up to rob them of this victory. It would also be more frustrating for the audience, who are waiting for this to happen.
Thanos makes short work of the Avengers, and they lay broken on the ground. He gloats over Tony, proclaiming he is going to make the universe from scratch and that the other heroes will never be returned. Moreover, Tony shall be joining them. Snap. Except no snap happens, because Tony has stolen the stones. He snaps his own fingers and all of the Avengers appear.
Tony dies, as happens in the original film, and the other Avengers send Thanos back to the past where he belongs, knowing that his plan will not succeed due to the inevitability of time. This, obviously, after quite a prolonged fight sequence because, fan service. Wouldn’t that have been more compelling than raising the stake even further than they were before? In the opinion of this reviewer, certainly.
Something else that I found fascinating as a thought while I was watching the film is the concept of whether those five years hadn’t happened. What if using the Infinity Gauntlet hadn’t have been to reverse the event, but rather to have stopped it happening completely. I know that this was covered within the context of the film, and I did enjoy that. But imagine the conflict that these characters would face at that reversal, especially Tony. Out of all of the Avengers, Tony is the one who has benefited in a way from the Snap happening: the existence of his daughter. It would have been great to have seen this be a factor within his decision making, that returning everybody else in existence would also mean the death of his daughter. Decidedly dark, for sure, but it would be nice to have seen the film explore those consequences unashamedly. I think an exploration of that would have been devastating and compelling also.
To conclude, I love Endgame, but I do think that the final confrontation lacked the kind of tension and suspense that I experienced during Infinity War. Cynically, you knew that Thanos would fail, especially because all of the Avengers were back together again, but a small amount of restructuring would have made it much more edge-of-your-seat to see your favourite heroes once more for the final fight against Thanos, without stripping any of the original fight sequence of its emotional repercussions. While they would not have had the whole poignant Pepper and Peter over Tony’s dying body, there’s still no reason to suggest why that couldn’t still happen, when they turn up to find him wounded on the battlefield while the others take out Thanos themselves. Just saying. All of the great things about the original fight sequence could still have happened, but in a situation where the tension and suspense was greater. Food for thought.