CAUTION: Spoilers for Avengers: Endgame and Avengers: Infinity War.
Avengers: Endgame is more than just a box-office behemoth. It's also a critical hit, even winning over some who panned Infinity War (IW). The de facto conclusion of the third phase of the MCU has been praised as satisfying, action-packed, and emotionally resonant.
However, like any movie, it has its share of critics, who are going after more than just a few of Endgame's plot holes. They point out issues in pacing, character development, and execution, some of which have been a part of Marvel's formula from its inception. A common criticism of the MCU is that its villains tend to be generic and one-dimensional. Another is that the action sequences tend to be weightless and overly computer-generated. Both of these complaints have been leveled at Endgame by critics.
As with criticism of the worst parts of IW, the MCU's legions of defenders will likely be heard over the haters. But in the midst of all this praise and success, let's check in on some of the worst reviews of Avengers: Endgame.
The MCU has always had a flexible relationship with scientific fact. This is a universe where gods fly around with the help of giant hammers, aliens regularly visit Earth, and six magic rocks can wipe out half of all life in the universe.
Time travel is a whole different issue. It's difficult to suspend disbelief when an understanding of the mechanics is essential to an understanding of the plot of the movie. So they're creating new timelines? Is it a multiverse? If Nebula takes out her younger self, should she cease to exist in the present? Some fans have no problem accepting all this, while some, like critic Ed Whitfield, have serious questions:
Gamora can be saved from her fate by pulling her into the present from the past, but poor Black Widow is irretrievable. And that’s just the rudiments of the plot. We won’t talk about the technobabble inelegantly cited in a bid to hold it all together – the equivalent of taking out an airplane’s jackscrews and replacing them with chewing gum.
It's hard to fault Marvel for this one. They are, after all, running a business, so it's unlikely that they would erase the box office potential of Black Panther, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, and Guardians of the Galaxy. Nevertheless, it was difficult for some critics, The Irish Times's Donald Clarke, to care about a plot that they essentially knew the end of:
The threats to life are, however, undermined by the conceit established in the previous film. We know that Spider-Man, Black Panther and Dr Strange aren’t really [gone]. The first of those heroes heads up a film in just three months, for Pete’s sake.
One of the big surprises of IW was that the real protagonist was the villain, Thanos. It was his journey we followed, and his emotional arc took us through the movie. The Russos and the writers dedicated an enormous amount of screentime towards making him more than a generic Marvel villain with a delusional, Malthusian agenda.
But Screen Rant writer Max Farrow points out that while the heroes all developed further in Endgame, Thanos actually regressed into a standard-issue bad guy. He says, "In fact, it could be argued that upon learning of the Avengers’ plot, he regresses by falling back upon a one-dimensional aim."
Thor had a difficult journey in IW. He loses Loki and Heimdall in the opening moments of the movie and is haunted by his failure to defeat Thanos, both at the beginning and end of the movi. But his story in Endgame, revolving around his own reaction to grief, struck critics like Katie Walsh of the North Arkansas Democrat-Gazette as tone deaf:
There's also one huge comedic, lowest-common denominator swing that only squeaks by because the star saddled with it is so naturally funny and committed. It's a tonal mismatch for this otherwise incredibly dreary outing.