A spoiler-filled review that combines Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame into one movie score and compares it to the two Marvel comics that influenced the movies the most.
Before watching Avengers: Infinity War, I read Infinity Gauntlet written by Jim Starlin. Originally released in 1991, it began with Thanos wearing the Infinity Gauntlet with all of the Infinity Stones inside of it and he erased half of all living beings in the universe by snapping his fingers within the first 40 pages of a 200 plus paged graphic novel. To be completely honest, I didn’t like Infinity Gauntlet at all. I felt no personally connection to any of what felt like around 100 Marvel characters that showed up in the story, the way half of the superheroes disappeared felt anticlimactic, and Thanos committed genocide against half the universe to impress a girl that at no point showed any interest in him.
Despite disliking everything about Infinity Gauntlet, I still had high expectations for Avengers: Infinity War. My two favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe Captain America: Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War were directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, and I had faith that they would continue their streak of making great MCU movies with A:IW. And the A:IW didn’t disappoint.
The two things that made A:IW a great movie was the way they gave all of the many superheroes a moment to shine and the villains. While Iron-Man and Thor’s storylines were given the most character development from the original six Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy had a surprising amount of screen time, you still got to see Black Panther lead Wakanda into battle, Spider-Man fighting in his new suit, Doctor Strange be a more interesting character in this movie than his own, and quick fan service moments like Winter Soldier lifting up Rocket Raccoon and turning to shoot the four armed aliens known as the Outriders. What helped make the fights against Thanos’ army more memorable than the battle against an army of Ultrons in Avengers: Age of Ultron was the inclusion of the Black Order.
The Black Order were introduced in Infinity, an over 800 paged graphic novel written by Jonathan Hickman, Jason Latour, and Nick Spencer, they were basically the movie equivalent of video game bosses. While it didn’t take too much effort from the Avengers to beat any of the four Black Order members, they were strong enough to keep the battles from being an near endless wave of henchmen that kill the spark from seeing superheroes fight together due to them beating up no bodies that posed little threat to them.
What really made A:IW work was Thanos. The decision to change Thanos’ motivation from trying to seduce Death, a woman in the Marvel comics universe, to trying to reduce the population so people would no longer have to fight over resources, helped make him a more compelling villian and avoid the he’s evil because he’s evil issues that previous MCU villains had. Since Thanos didn’t kill for satisfaction or revenge, there wasn’t a moment where I asked, “Why didn’t he just kill him?” during the several times he let someone that was trying to assassinate him live.
Having read Infinity Gauntlet and knowing that A:IW was part one of a two part movie, I expected Thanos to win and for several of the Avengers to disappear. The way the movie did it was more emotional and visually impactful than the comic book version, and I didn’t know how they were going resolve the issue in Avengers: Endgame, but I’m happy with how they decided to wrap up over a decades worthy of story telling.
With the exception of making the Hulk an odd and worse version of Bruce Banner and the green rage monster’s personalities, I liked the endings A:E gave all the original Avengers. Thor becoming an overweight drunk and Hawkeye becoming a non-Netflix version of the Punisher were two of the more gutsy ways to show superheroes dealing with grief. And since the MCU has always struggled to make Black Widow as compelling as her counterparts, despite Scarlett Johansson always giving a good performance, I’m fine with her sacrificing herself so the Avengers can get the life stone.
Obviously, the stars of A:E are Iron Man and Captain America. Iron Man has always been my favorite MCU character and A:E gave him the perfect ending. I assumed this would be Iron Man and Captain America’s final MCU movie and wouldn’t have been surprised to see either of them killed, but watching him snap his fingers wearing the Infinity Gauntlet to stop Thanos’ army knowing he would die, was the MCU’s most emotional moment. I also liked that they gave him a daughter, but I do wonder if it was necessary to have a five year time jump. It defiantly made the interactions between Tony Stark and his daughter better than if she had been a toddler or baby, but it potentially causes problems for the MCU going forward. Based on the trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home, all of his classmates from the previous movie appear to still be in high school. This would mean that his entire class was snapped or some of his classmates were held back for multiple years. Assuming they were all snapped, it suggest that the MCU will conveniently snap any character that could cause stories issues being around for five years and I would find it disappointing if A:E was the only MCU movie to show what the five years with half the population missing was like. Having Captain America go back in time to spend time with the woman he loved made sense. It wasn’t Captain America’s choice to live in the future and now that the ultimate threat to America and earth is taken care of, he could afford to do something for himself instead of others.
I liked the way A:E dealt with time travel and don’t care whether or not it made complete sense, but was a bit disappoint by the action scenes. None of them were bad, but none of them were on the same level of the Russo brothers previous MCU movies. The fight against past Thanos’ army at the end was partially the standard CGI war battles we’ve seen since the original Lord of the Rings trilogy, with the exception of standout moments like Captain America using Thor’s hammer. One issues that my friends had with the final battle was Thanos’ ability to fight and defeat multiple Avengers without using any Infinity Stones. Since the previous movie showed a team of Iron Man, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, and most of the Guardians of the Galaxy almost beating a version of Thanos that had three Infinity Stones, it’s understandable that people might consider this a plot hole. But the Infinity graphic novel I mentioned earlier, did end with the Avengers fighting an Infinity Stone less Thanos on earth and would’ve lost the fight if Thanos’ son hadn’t stopped his father, so Thanos being strong enough to beat the Avengers with his own strength is comic book canon.
At the end of the day, I can’t imagine anyone doing a better capping off over 20 movies and 10 years of story telling than what Marvel did with Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame. And when both movies are combined into a single movie, the result is near perfect.