Marginally better for having, at most, 20 minutes of real popcorn entertainment, where its predecessor had precisely none. By popcorn I mean minutes with pace, wit, constant jokes, concentrated on a Back to the Future-style remount of Avengers Originale. That segment had raised my hopes we’d left behind the dire first act saddling this latest (and longest) superhero assemblage, but proceedings quickly reverted to type. Thin plotting, cumbersome exposition, and production so absurd in its glamour that it he plots are too thin, the exposition too cumbersome, the production too glamorous, for me to engage with the fundamental premise of the film. I don’t buy their Hollywood vision of the apocalypse. Their houses are still stunning, their children still photogenic, their makeup still flawless. Half the world’s population has been annihilated, but their world could not appear more unblemished. The film makes no effort to acknowledge these concerns, indeed it seems totally unaware of them.
The raw materials of Avengers were always pantomime, yet every sequel has strived and struggled to play it as drama. The campy, absurd costumes, the aforementioned glitz of the production, the primacy of incident over plot – which sees writers Markus and McFeely deliver another round of interminable fetch-questing. These are not dramatic materials. All these building blocks are positioned for popcorn, not serious emotional involvement. Vast swathes of Endgame are terribly dull because there’s simply not enough content to sustain its pretensions. Any content there is, like the idea of a world where half the population has been vanished, is constantly undermined by its failings. The immediate deus-ex-machina of Captain Marvel’s appearance was particularly hard to swallow, and served as a good summary of these issues.
At last – it takes a while to get to – there’s the finale, where great lengths have been taken to tell us this is The End. After crowbarring in the departures of some of our heroes, there is still time for all manner of sequel set-ups to be jammed in your face. This machine could not be further from finished. How could it? Box office figures from another universe tell us they’ve enslaved the popular consciousness in a way even James Cameron’s imperious epics couldn’t dream of. It never stops, but this is where I stop watching, after another artistically arid blockbuster of gigantic proportions and zero finesse.