Warning: Major spoilers for Avengers: Endgame!
Avengers: Endgame has finally arrived, giving audiences the long-awaited conclusion to what has been dubbed the "Infinity Saga". The film had the unenviable task of following up Avengers: Infinity War which left audiences everywhere devastated and wondering how our heroes would bounce back.
For all those wondering if the team at Marvel would be able to stick this landing, rest assured, Avengers: Endgame delivers the goods, and then some. It is an exhilarating, emotional, and satisfying conclusion to this massive cinematic undertaking. But, for all of the ways Endgame impresses, there are some areas where we have to give Infinity War the edge. While both are awe-inspiring pieces to this MCU puzzle, here are some of the things Infinity War does better than Endgame.
10 First Act
Despite both films being very long, neither one drags at any point. However, Infinity War does a bit of a better job handling the pacing and getting the story moving. The film hits the ground running with its introduction of Thanos, who already has the Power Stone and has beaten Thor. It keeps moving, bringing in the key characters and moving the plot along without leaving the audience behind. Endgame has a similarly frantic pace to start, but things then slow way down for a good while. Though its all good stuff, the shift can be a bit jarring.
9 The Urgency
It must be said that Infinity War and Endgame are very different movies. Endgame needs to take some time to deal with the aftermath of The Snap. These make for some of the most emotional scenes in the film and help set the stage for the rest of the movie.
While there is no fault in those quieter moments, we must admit that the urgency of Infinity War is more exciting. There is a feeling of a ticking clock with Infinity War as Thanos collects the Stones. As good as those emotional character moments are in Endgame, it just doesn’t have the same fun factor.
When Thanos snapped his fingers and wiped out half the universe’s population, it was one of the most shocking moments in any film—period. It also presented a pretty difficult bar for Endgame to clear in terms of stakes. In Infinity War, Thanos was established as a real threat early on and his mission had clear and dire consequences. Though Thanos is still out there in Endgame, the damage has already been done. The stakes just aren’t as high. The heroes will either reverse what happened, or they'll fail again. Though Thanos raises the stakes in the climax, for most of the movie it feels just slightly less consequential. And, as much fun as they have with it, once time travel is introduced, the stakes are immediately diminished.
7 The Team-Ups
As fun as it is to see the Avengers all fighting side by side, Infinity War had a lot of fun splitting up the heroes into different groups to take on Thanos. The team-ups were pitch-perfect with just the right characters sharing the screen, bouncing each other’s strengths off each other to the best effect. Endgame goes for a similar team-up strategy as the Avengers split up to retrieve the Stones throughout time. However, there is not the same excitement this time around as they aren’t bouncing off each other in the same thrilling way. Though there are plenty of nice solo moments.
The dynamic between Bruce Banner and The Hulk has always been fascinating. We’ve seen that relationship evolve in surprising and strange ways over the series, and Endgame goes even further with it. The two personalities have now combined as Banner’s mind now controls the Hulk’s body.
Though the idea sounds really cool, the result was a little off. It turns out that mindless Hulk and timid Banner are much more interesting. Plus, the look is a bit off-putting. As Valkyrie says when seeing the new Banner/Hulk, we think we prefer him either of the other ways.
The MCU has always shown a great talent for injecting humor into their movies. The filmmakers and actors do a great job delivering the laughs along with the thrills. As somber as Endgame can be at times, they still manage to include plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. Unfortunately, not all of the comedy lands as well as it does in Infinity War. The “fat Thor” gag is funny at first but overstays its welcome. Similarly, characters like Rocket who are normally hilarious don’t get as many of those moments. Still, it is surprising how funny the movie ends up being.
As soon it was revealed that the team would travel through time to retrieve the Stones, we immediately feared what would happen when they sought out the Soul Stone. As we all know from Infinity War, the price of getting the Stone is sacrificing something (or someone) beloved. In Thanos’ case, it was Gamora, leading to one of the movie’s saddest scenes. In Endgame, Natasha and Clint travel to Vormir, but since we’ve already been through this, some of the impact of what happens is lost. Certainly, it was hard to see Natasha go, but the death just felt like a redo from the last movie and didn’t pack the same wallop.
3 New Interactions
One of the great joys of these massive team-up movies is getting to see iconic characters meeting for the first time. The first Avengers did this expertly as we got to see these heroes interact for the first time on screen. Infinity War is just as fun, bringing the Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange, and others into the fold, making for some amazing meet-ups.
While there are plenty of characters meeting for the first time in Endgame, the moments seem fleeting. Captain Marvel appears and disappears much too quickly, people seem indifferent to a talking raccoon, and, as epic as the final battle was, it was almost too big for those small moments we love so much.
The Russos has said on several occasions that Thor’s arc in Infinity War was meant to resemble the classic hero’s journey. We were meant to think Thor would have saved the day, but instead, Thanos wins. What helped to make that arc so compelling was how beaten Thor was throughout that film. He has lost everything and becomes a desperate Avenger. In Endgame, he has sunk even lower, feeling responsible for what happened. While it’s interesting to see a hero struggling through this kind of mental anguish that he can’t escape, it robs Thor of a bit of his agency and makes too much of a joke of the character.
Part of the reason these final two Avengers films have been so effective is that Thanos is arguably the greatest villain the MCU has given us. He is introduced in Infinity War as an incredibly powerful threat, but then we learn more about him and his motivations. Infinity War is basically Thanos’ movie, and, by the time it’s over, we can almost see things his way.
Understandably, Endgame cuts Thanos’ screen time significantly to focus on the heroes. Sadly, he’s sorely missed, and the little we do get of him is much less interesting than what we get in Infinity War. His complexities have faded and he feels more like an obstacle than a character.