The Marvel Cinematic Universe is the biggest franchise in the world. It has over 20 films, many of which grossed over $1B at the box office, and features many fan-favorite characters. The ending of The Infinity Saga was a worldwide event. The fourth Avengers film broke box office records, and nearly everyone on the planet saw this movie. Then, that was it. The story was done. A satisfying conclusion to a series we’ve followed for over ten years, but then Marvel decided to keep the train rolling. The story would continue past its climactic ending.
Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame are such monumental movies. They are the closest thing we can get to a modern-day epic. They brought together the Guardians, Avengers, Spider-Man, and Captain Marvel to combat a common threat. A threat that has been pulling strings in most of these movies since 2011. When that threat is gone when the battle has been won, why should we continue to follow this world? After Endgame, it felt like we finished this story. Spider-Man: Far From Home was an epilogue, and Black Widow was going to fill in that missing piece to make the story complete.
That brings us to the rest of phase four. A new age of heroes is rising to take over from the major players: Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow, Hulk, and Hawkeye. We have characters like Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Falcon, Winter Soldier, Scarlet Witch, and Doctor Strange leading the charge. In the first three phases, we followed Iron Man and Captain America from their origin to their deaths, and each moment we spent with them impacted us as an audience. You got annoyed with Tony at certain points, but in the end, we cared about what happened to him. Most of these other characters were in supporting roles when they were introduced – making it hard to have the same level of investment. Now all of a sudden, we’re supposed to care about Wanda the same way we did about Thor?
The reason we fell in love with the heroes in phase one was because we got to spend time with them individually. We knew everything there was to know about Iron Man before the first Avengers film. We then got to see his character grow and change throughout the story. Here, we’ve seen Sam in five movies and still barely know the guy, and he’s our next Captain America? Can he genuinely lead the new Avengers in the same way Steve Rogers did? It feels like they’re extending the story because they have to, and not because they have interesting ideas on where to take these new heroes.
Avengers: Endgame created such a powerful ending to the point where it’s almost insulting to try and follow it up. The MCU should have taken a much longer break between releases. Even now, an entire year later, it feels like they’re moving on too soon. Should they have scaled down Avengers: Endgame or try and setup future movies? Of course not but they didn’t leave us wanting more. Instead, they left us content with the ending we got.
I feel as if the next group won’t be nearly as fun as Robert Downey Jr. or Chris Evans, and that’s a lot to ask of any actor. Marvel will have to create a new type of team, completely different from the previous era. Otherwise they’ll continue to draw unfair comparisons. How do you follow up the biggest event in cinematic history? Well, I guess we’re about to find out.