I think Endgame was not a movie, but the final episode of a series. For that, it works remarkably well. It is MASH's Goodbye, Farewell and Amen, providing a layer of character buildiling, but also giving every major character an adieu. It is the direct continuation of Infinity War, but it is the capstone of the whole 22 film experiment. To miss a piece of the whole set, is to miss the depth of this movie, because there are references to almost every one of the films. In this film, you can see the project as a whole, and this is it's fitting conclusion. But it cannot stand on it's own.
But like the MASH finale, it is touching, it has depth, it has a sad humor. It anticipates our grief and so causes it, even as we have moments of bittersweet joy.
But why time travel? Does it have to be time travel? I am so tired of this trope because it is so easy to have lazy writing and contradictions. They chose to be right with the characters, but the time travel itself was inconsistent. Sure, all the stones were put back... but there are multiple timelines. How does the scientfic magic put Cap or anyone else in the correct timeline to put the stones back to get that timeline on track? When Cap went back to have his happy ending, did he create another alternative timeline? If so, how did he get back to Sam and Bucky's timeline? Did Cap live through all of the stuff he could have prevented (Hydra's infiltration of SHEILD, for example) and just sit on his hands through it all because it'll get handled in the end. Time travel only works by following some very strict rules and I don't know that they completely followed their rules.
That, and the death of Black Widow, are my only real complaints about the film. Everything else is wonderful. I love the fact that they are all allowed to experience the trauma of the events, and that each of their PTSD looked different. I loved pretty much everybody's end, especially Stark's and Thor's. I loved that Paltrow got her moment in the end, although she'd been forgotten outside of Iron Man films. I honestly think that they couldn't have done a better final episode. I doubt they can top this, although I'll be happy to see them try.
Expectations as to who would die? I knew about Cap and Stark. Wouldn't have been surprised if Thor went. Between Black Widow and Hawkeye, I thought Hawkeye would go. But I guess they couldn't because he's a family man. Black Widow got cheated, I think.
I loved the length, I thought the big battle was kinda cool, but mostly fan service, and I think Thanos was really well done, when you look at his character as a whole. I really, really hope that Gomorrah will have a chance to get some healing in the next Guardians movie.
And Tom Holland is the best and I just can't wait for the next Spidey movie. "That's nice."