It’s difficult to know what to say about Avengers: Endgame right at this moment. Having already seen the movie twice and being utterly blown away by it, there is some level of difficulty knowing where I could possibly start when talking about this movie. Especially when the internet is packed to bursting point with content creators doing the exact same thing.
While it’s been rolling around in my head for the last week, there is one thing that I keep coming back to, and that is to simply sit back and be in awe of what Marvel Studios have accomplished with this multi-platform media franchise that has spanned 22 movies and realise that there is noway that they’re going to be able to do something like this again.
I’ve spoken a lot about how Avengers: Endgame would most likely be the end of story lines that have been building since the very first Iron Man, I was more surprised than anyone to learn just how correct I was in that assessment. There really was a sense of finality to Endgame, to an extent I don’t think any of us were prepared for.
But obviously, this isn’t the end. With a new Spider-Man movie right around the corner, new Black Panther, Doctor Strange and Guardians of the Galaxy movies after that, not to mention the series featuring on Disney+ in the coming years. As an entity, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is far from over.
But so many characters who had been introduced in those first handful of movies found a conclusion to their stories in this movie, characters who have grown, developed and wormed their way into our hearts in the 11 years since Iron Man first changed the face of blockbuster movies.
Having gone back and started watching the MCU from the start, in a series you really should search out, it’s obvious that there was no grand plan for what would eventually become Infinity War and Endgame in those early days. Marvel were just fumbling around in the dark, throwing references at the wall and then retroactively examining the stains after the fact to make them fit into their new narrative.
It shouldn’t really have worked as well as it did. But thanks to some amazing casting, and a philosophy that dictated they make great movies first and built the franchise after the fact, the fan’s dedication to the franchise has been rewarded in a way that has never really been seen before in cinema. It’s been so successful that every other studio and their mother have taken a crack at creating their own shared, cinematic universe: DC, Godzilla, the Universal horror movies, all with differing levels of success.
The thing that many of these other attempts at shared universes fail to do that Marvel achieved is the very point I made earlier: the shared universe wasn’t the focus. There was some real sense of doing right by the fans, making each movie stand in its own right, not trying to do too much, too soon. And it paid off, to the point that the MCU is in such a place that all these characters seamlessly weave in and out of each other’s movie’s without anyone blinking an eye.
Going forward, there are going to be a lot more studios and properties doing this, but none of them, not even Marvel themselves are going to be able to come close to what they achieved here with this series of 22 movies. Despite it not being necessary to see all the movies that came before to enjoy the final two, having a knowledge of them validates, praises and rewards its audience to create an experience of belonging and excitement that very few other franchises can match, especially on this scale.
While I’m certain Marvel already have plans for their next big villain to follow up Thanos, I cannot imagine they’ll be building up to it on the same scale. Ten years from now, are we going to get an older Peter Parker teaming up with the Fantastic Four, Black Panther and Wolverine to fend off Galactus, with another 20 movies between them? Maybe? But can it be the same? The “time heist” segment of Endgame is self referential in a way that few other movies could pull off with a straight face; literally going back into their own past, elbowing their audience in the side and saying “eh? remember this?”.
I’d love to think that in ten years time, we’re going to get another Endgame scale event, bringing together every character that’s appeared in the franchise between then and now. But realistically, I think the timescale will be halved, and our next big climactic villain will come in five or six years instead. With an equivalent level of hype to suit that gap.
I loved Endgame, it helped me regain my passion for the MCU and reinforced my belief that they’re still head and shoulders above the competition when it comes to superhero movies, and I’ll probably be talking about it some more in the future. But it feels like a payoff you could call a 14 million to one shot. And with no Tony Stark to make the impossible happen, I’d be shocked if it could happen at this scale again.