After a long year of waiting, Avengers: Endgame is almost here! Without question, this movie is probably one of the most anticipated cinematic events to date. Audiences have been impatiently waiting and theorizing ever since Avengers: Infinity War was released and left us on the biggest cliffhanger in the history of cliffhangers. How were the remaining Avengers going to defeat Thanos and bring back half of the universe’s population that got destroyed? How is this epic tale going to conclude? With Avengers: Endgame it is the end of an era. So, the question is, how will Avengers: Endgame conclude the first era of the MCU?
Everything from the very first Iron Man in 2008 has been building up to the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy having an ultimate showdown with Thanos. This clash has been planned from the beginning by Marvel Studios. We can only assume that Thanos will be defeated in some capacity in Endgame because it would make sense narratively. Therefore, the first cosmic big bad will be out-of-the-way. Thanos’ defeat can only mean the start of the next era with a new big bad for the Avengers (whomever is on the team post-Endgame).
Other than Thanos’ defeat, I believe that we’ll see some heroic sacrifices as well as willing or forced retirements from lead characters. Over the past 11 years, we have been introduced to the major players such as Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, etc. With the last Phase Three movies, it was clear that the MCU wanted the original Avengers to pass the torch on to characters like Spider-Man, Black Panther and Captain Marvel. I think it would be a mistake to not make Black Panther and Captain Marvel the next leaders of the Avengers, if Steve Rogers’ Captain America and Iron Man die and/or retire. New characters will be very welcomed in the MCU, especially more female, LGBTQ+ and POC characters.
While this movie will be about avenging those lost to the Snap, it will also be a movie about looking to the future and having hope that heroes will prevail in the end. When Infinity War ended, there was shock and silence because the heroes lost. To the public conscience, heroes are not supposed to lose, they’re supposed to win and defeat the bad guy. It would be a nice juxtaposition if Endgame ended on a happy note (or at least a happier note), making the hardships, the loss, and the heartbreak all the more purposeful.
The first three phases of the MCU built a cinematic universe over the course of 22 movies (with the release of Endgame). Honestly, it’s quite a feat and the success built by Marvel over these movies inspired others to mimic this formula. Certainly there are long-running franchises, but the MCU is something special. Despite some obvious criticisms about bland villains (Thanos and Loki, aside) and the massive destruction and death in every movie, the MCU thus far is a solid group of movies that you can always watch again and again. Marvel could end it there, really. They have nothing more to prove, but hopefully the future movies they make won’t spoil the first era.
Right now, the only Phase Four movie we know is Spider-Man: Far From Home (out this July) despite rumors of a Black Widow movie and various sequels. Kevin Feige reportedly said that Marvel Studios was waiting for Endgame to release before revealing any solid future MCU movies. When that happens we might get a better idea of the direction they are going to take the MCU. For now, we can only guess at what happens until we all get to see Avengers: Endgame.