(This article will contain MAJOR SPOILERS for Avengers: Endgame. So, if you have not seen the movie yet, I highly recommend you leave this page until you’ve seen it. You have been warned.)
Avengers: Endgame hit theaters last week and fans are still talking about every waking second of Marvel’s 3-hour long epic. What Marvel has done, whether you’ve enjoyed every one of their films or not, is simply extraordinary. And, in my opinion, we will never see anything like it again. Even from Marvel themselves.
Avengers: Endgame is Already Breaking Box Office Records
We should start with the boring part of all of this and get it out of the way early. Let’s talk numbers. Avengers: Endgame has made a ton of money since its U.S release date of April 26th. At the time of writing this, Endgame has made well over $1 billion worldwide and is set to hit that $2 billion mark any day now. Via Box Office Mojo, Avengers: Endgame is already the 5th highest grossing Marvel movie of all-time (domestically), sitting right above Captain Marvel and just below Avengers: Age of Ultron. Again, it should be noted that Endgame only hit theaters last week in the United States. For a list of every box office record Avengers: Endgame broke so far, check out this article from Variety.
When Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War released so closely together in 2018, I thought Marvel had hit its peak. As it looks right now, Endgame is set to demolish both of those movies at the box office. So…yeah…I think it’s safe to say that I was wrong on that one.
Why Endgame’s Success Can’t Be Duplicated
But where does that money come from? Why does anyone care about the Avengers franchise?
It’s pretty simple when you think about it. Those at Marvel and MCU mastermind Kevin Feige took the time to flesh out these characters and their stories. The first Iron Man released in 2008. They took 11 years and 22 movies to create the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it. 11 years to set up these relationships, villains, and personalities. Make no mistake, if Iron Man and Endgame were only a few years apart, the amazing “I am Iron Man” line in Endgame isn’t so special. Neither is Captain America’s storybook ending.
Infinity War’s shocking conclusion is also another huge factor in this as well. Audiences were shocked when Thanos actually came out on top at the end of Infinity War and killed 50% of the universe’s population. Some fans saw this coming a mile away though with Endgame practically being billed as Infinity War Part 2. Some fans also looked at the ending as a copout since there was no way the dusted characters would remain dead for too long. It’s cool if you are one of those people and I respect your opinion on it but you can’t deny that the ending of Infinity War heavily influenced interest in Endgame. Especially for the casual movie-going audience.
Which brings me to these characters. We’ve seen Iron Man and Captain America as the figureheads of the MCU for years. Going into Endgame, most fans were prepared to see one or both of these heroes die. Despite knowing that going in, Marvel still managed to make both characters’ exits from the MCU deeply emotional and irreversible.
We’re going to get a little off-track here but, I already know what some of you are thinking. Money can make anything happen so I shouldn’t say their departures are “irreversible”. And to an extent, I agree with you. Money is the sole reason why we have Spider-Man in the MCU and why Marvel now has the likes of the X-Men, Fantastic Four, Doctor Doom, and Galactus at their disposal. But, if they ever decide to erase the final chapters for either of these heroes, Marvel would undercut the entire point of Endgame in the first place. A satisfying conclusion to a decade-long journey.
Everything in this movie from the slower moments that showed the aftermath of our heroes’ failure to the monumentally epic battle scene at the end had this feeling of decisiveness to it. Yes, there is still going to be MCU movies after Endgame but this was really the bookend for an 11-year storyline. Marvel didn’t have to do this. They could have left the door open for the younger Cap to come back or some miraculous return for Iron Man down the line. But no, this movie was the definite finale of the Infinity Saga and somehow kept its high stakes intact.
That giddy feeling you got when Cap picks up Mjolnir. The awesome shot of all of the Marvel heroes back for one last fight. Touching moments like Tony hugging a resurrected Peter Parker and Pepper’s emotional goodbye to Tony, reassuring him that the world was finally safe and he could rest. None of that build up and the subsequent payoffs can be replicated.
Well, I should clarify that. This could be duplicated. It just won’t have the same effect because everyone, including myself, will still reflect back to Endgame. It’s one of the perks to being the first franchise to get this far.
Don’t get me wrong, I like what DC has done here lately but they have not shown the ability to create something like this. You don’t see anyone panicking on their phones trying to buy up tickets for the next James Bond film either. Star Wars is, and always will be, special to a lot of people but even that franchise hasn’t accomplished what Marvel did here with Avengers: Endgame.
In a way, Marvel has created a problem for themselves. Where do we go from here? Are we just starting over with Captain Marvel, Black Panther, and Doctor Strange as our new trinity? How will anyone measure up to the level of detail that went into Thanos? All of those questions are entirely valid and it’ll be interesting to see what Marvel’s full Phase 4 lineup looks like after Spider-Man: Far From Home releases in a few months.
If Infinity War was this generation’s Empire Strikes Back like many have said, Avengers: Endgame was Return of the Jedi amped up to an 11 and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I had my problems with this movie. Captain Marvel was pretty unlikable here, old Cap created a plot hole for the MCU going forward, and there were a few missed opportunities to note (How do we not have a scene between Cap and Red Skull?!).
Despite my minor gripes, Avengers: Endgame is something that we should look at as a historic cinematic moment. Let’s take a trip back to 2008. Superhero movies were still decently sparse and not all that popular outside of Batman, Spider-Man, and the X-Men franchise. Personally, I was content with the first Avengers movie and calling it quits after that. I had no inclination that I would be excited to see a cosmic movie with a killer soundtrack that’s ensemble included a tree and a talking raccoon.
In 2019, the fact we saw these moments and got to this point in the story is an achievement of itself. It’s completely fine if you didn’t like Endgame but I do think props have to be given to those who made this happen. Those such as Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, and Scarlett Johansson shined in Endgame and brought life to their MCU characters since their debuts all those years ago. Those at Marvel who helped craft these arcs and stories like Kevin Feige, the Russo brothers, the CGI teams, the make-up departments, and most importantly, Stan Lee.
Who knows? Maybe in 5 years, the MCU starts to die out due to a lack of good movies or that so-called “superhero fatigue” finally sets in. If that happens, at least we can all still look back at the Infinity Saga as Marvel’s handprint into cinematic history.
What were your thoughts on Avengers: Endgame? Let us know in the comments below!