The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Column | ‘Avengers: Endgame’; 5 years since the MCU changed forever

Let’s turn back the clock five years to 2019. The hype for all things Marvel is at a high because of one movie, “Avengers: Endgame.”

It’s hard to believe that it’s been five years since the release of “Avengers: Endgame” and whether it was all of the toys on store shelves, countless TV spots or endless theories on what would happen in the film, it’s hard to deny that Marvel fever was everywhere leading up to the release of “Endgame.”

In case you’ve lived under a rock for the past 16 years, the release of “Iron Man” in 2008 marked the start of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, otherwise known as the MCU.

Since then, the MCU has come out with 33 films and 10 TV shows — not including all of the shows released by Netflix and ABC — and currently has over 15 projects on the way.

There’s a good chance we’ll never get anything like it again, even with the MCU’s current buildup to their next big finale.

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Up until the release of “Endgame,” the MCU had introduced over 30 heroes ranging from more popular ones such as Iron Man and Captain America to lesser-known characters turned memorable such as the Guardians of the Galaxy.

As the big finale to 11 years of content known as “The Infinity Saga,” “Avengers: Endgame” was the culmination of many storylines, and laid a path for future entries to follow.

Picking up after the events of “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Avengers: Endgame” begins with a scene with Hawkeye’s family. Everything seems normal for the Bartons — until they all disappear — seemingly as a result of Thanos’ snap, or as it’s known in the film, the Blip.

What makes this cold open extremely successful is that it not only establishes the current state of the MCU’s story arc of loss but immediately raises tensions as you realize that every person on screen is going to have something to fight for.

As the film progresses, jaws continue to drop as more plot points begin to develop, including revisiting the past to recollect the infinity stones to bring back everyone who got “blipped.”

The dream fight sequence of so many fans finally came to fruition with the final fight of the film, which saw almost all of the series’ heroes fight alongside one another to defeat Thanos and his army, the Black Order.

At the climax of the fight, everything seemed over for fans when Thanos got a hold of the Nano Gauntlet holding all of the stones and snapped his fingers, only for him to realize that Iron Man had taken the stone moments before.

Tears began to shed as audiences realized that Tony Stark was about to make the ultimate sacrifice, and Tony would do so with the same exact words he said at the end of his first film, “I am Iron Man.”

Once the film ended its theatrical run, “Avengers: Endgame” would see a box office total of $2.799 billion, leading it to be the highest-grossing film of all time, until 2009’s “Avatar” dethroned the film upon its re-release in Chinese theaters.

After the harrowing finale of the film, only one question remained for fans of the MCU, “What’s next?”

The answer to that query came in the form of the last film in phase three of the MCU, which began with 2019’s “Spider-Man: Far From Home” released a mere two months after “Endgame.”

Although “Far From Home” was generally well-received by critics, fans brought up several flaws with the film which include how the grandiose scale of the film didn’t make Spider-Man feel as grounded as the character should be considering how the web-slinger is supposed to be New York’s “friendly neighborhood” Spider-Man.

However, the biggest issue brought up with the film, and Spider-Man as a whole, is how much it relied on Iron Man’s death as a plot device. This didn’t let Spider-Man shine as his own character — rather, he felt stuck in the shadows of Iron Man and his legacy.

Unfortunately, this is a problem that would stick around with the MCU as more often than not, various projects such as “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” and “Hawkeye” would see themselves holding on too much to the past and what once was, instead of developing the newer characters and their stories.

Additionally, the introduction of the next overarching saga, “The Multiverse Saga” seemed to have been fairly planned out; that is until Marvel caused some burnout among fans after it released what some said was an overabundance of content. 

In both 2021 and 2022, Marvel would release nine MCU projects which led to a total of almost 56 hours worth of content between both years.

This wouldn’t be that bad if the content being put out was of the highest quality, or at the very least what fans were already used to, but unfortunately, many corners were seemingly cut to put out as much content as possible.

The MCU has since taken a step back with its output, as Disney CEO Bob Iger has mentioned wanting to focus on quality over quantity.

In an earnings call leading up to the release of last year’s “The Marvels,” Iger stated, “I’ve always felt that quantity can be actually a negative when it comes to quality, and I think that’s exactly what happened.” 

So far in 2024, the MCU has seen one TV show released in the form of “Echo” and only has one movie planned, which is Shawn Levy’s “Deadpool & Wolverine.”

Only time can tell if this will be a new age for the MCU, but it will be hard to stack up against the solid legacy “Avengers: Endgame” left behind in terms of both cultural status and acclaim.


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