It truly is a once-in-a-generation event. As April 25th steadily approaches, so too does the UK release of Avengers: Endgame, the concluding chapter in a cinematic vision that began over 10 years ago with Iron Man on 24th April 2008. Though we still have Captain Marvel coming up on 8th March, the latest upcoming Avengers title sees every hero we’ve come to know thus far, every narrative thread that’s been woven into 21 distinct films, all come to a pulsating climax as the remainder of Earth’s mightiest heroes try to undo Thanos’ blitz of destruction and devastation from last year’s Avengers: Infinity War. It’s sure to pack an emotional punch, but perhaps more intriguing than the film itself is the question that follows it: what now?
It’s a tricky situation. Key to the whole dramatic impact of Infinity War and Endgame is that some of the Marvel Cinematic Universe‘s heavy hitters – notably Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, and Chris Hemsworth – are out of contract following April’s Avengers outing. This leaves open the very real possibility that their characters will meet their end in Endgame, or otherwise go missing in action; fantastic for edge-of-your seat tension during the big climax, but a headscratcher for producer Kevin Feige and co. at Marvel Studios. How do they draw people in when leading figures like Iron Man, Captain America and Thor aren’t around?
Well on the one hand, not everyone is leaving – not just yet. We already have the trailer for Spider-Man: Far From Home, confirming that Peter Parker, Nick Fury and Happy Hogan survive whatever happens in Endgame (and their disintegration from Infinity War). There’s also rumoured to be a Black Panther sequel in the works, as well as another Doctor Strange film and (finally) a solo Black Widow outing. So rest assured, many of the MCU’s familiar faces will remain post-Endgame to draw audiences into theatres.
But the culmination of 11 years of cinematic vision also presents a fantastic opportunity for Marvel Studios to change the MCU in a multitude of interesting and surprising ways. Infinity War, Captain Marvel and Endgame present perhaps the closest we’ll ever get to a comic book-style “event” on the big screen – a story told across multiple entries, involving most or all the characters of a universe and leaving far-reaching effects on the universe as a whole upon the conclusion of the story. In Thanos: Infinity Gauntlet, the comic book event that Infinity War and Endgame draw most of their inspiration from, things get weird, psychedellic and cosmic as the Avengers enter the Infinity Stones (don’t ask me how) to undo the damage Thanos has caused and disrupt the Infinity Gauntlet from within in an enticing final act that scatters our heroes and villains across the universe. I’m not saying this is going to happen in Endgame – it’s perhaps too cosmic for casual audiences to enjoy, and the Russo brothers will want to surprise even readers of that comic – but it sets a precedent for universe disruption that may well find its way to the big screen.
Whatever happens, don’t expect Marvel Studios to stop making movies just yet. Of course, they’re fantastic money-makers, but there’s also a whole host of characters and worlds from the comics that are still yet to be fully explored in cinemas. Could we see Miles Morales, Adam Warlock, Ms Marvel, the Eternals, or even the X-Men or Fantastic Four (following Disney’s Fox deal) coming into the MCU in Phase Four and beyond? Speaking to Variety, Feige explained how “there are other filmmakers who are working on things in development. But when and where and how and why, we haven’t discussed yet. But it is fair to say that we will continue making films after Endgame.” But whatever happens, the next few months seem set to act as the swan song for Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and more. We’re in the Endgame now.
Avengers: Endgame, directed by the Russo brothers, will be released in the UK on the 25th April.