I wasn’t going to write anything about the most recent entry in the MCU franchise, mostly because more talented writers than I have pretty much said everything there is to say about a movie we all knew was going to be good. But it’s been almost a week since I’ve seen the film and I can’t help but think about it. When the first Iron Man film was released back in 2008, I was stationed in Iraq watching a pirated version of the film on DVD with my friends. I thought the movie was good, the effects were great and I honestly had no idea that Robert Downey Jr was such a risk in terms of casting. It seems hard to think about now, but yeah, RDJ was a huge gamble for Marvel Studios, and now, the thought of him no longer being a part of the MCU as anything more than a legacy/memory is just as big a gamble.
That last bit that I just mentioned there is my favorite part about this next, seemingly uncharted, phase of the MCU, there are serious changes in store for fans of this franchise. Iron Man died taking out Thanos and his legions, Captain America is now in his nineties and has since passed on the mantle to Falcon/Sam Wilson and Thor is now a (possible) member of the Guardians of the Galaxy. There are more changes that held a lot of weight as Endgame came to a close, and even if these changes are undone within the next few years, I’m okay with that. For me, the MCU is over. As the credits rolled around the three-hour mark of the film, I had this feeling of finality the likes of which I hadn’t had before with one of these films.
While my wife and I were dissecting the film over dinner, like many fans do, in the back of my mind, I was unfairly comparing this film to others in the franchise. I thought about the big moments that stick out in all of our minds when we think about the MCU. I thought about the elevator fight scene in Winter Soldier. I remember Peter Quill sending Yondu’s casket off into space. I thought about that time we saw the Avengers band together for the first time and of course, I thought of the first time Tony Stark confirmed that he was Iron Man. While this film isn’t my favorite MCU entry, Avengers Endgame isn’t merely another rung on the ladder, but whatever rests at the top of that ladder.
For the first time in a long time, I felt completely fulfilled by one of these films. I didn’t leave the theater thinking “that was awesome, what’s the next film gonna be like?”, I felt like we had seen an epic series finale that actually felt epic because it did what no other MCU film had done before, it had the balls to let its characters change. Thor is massively depressed, Iron Man is a father and a husband and Cap has moved on from war-ish. This is the growth I have been yearning for for years with these characters and Endgame delivered.
It doesn’t matter that there are more than likely forty more Marvel films planed to pick up the reigns of Endgame, starting with a Spider-Man sequel that admittedly looks pretty cute. But I don’t have the desire to rush out and see the next slate of Marvel films. I don’t really care if Marvel is going to push Captain Marvel on viewers or make another huge gamble with a fairly unknown team like the Eternals. I’m not even that excited about the prospect of a Fantastic Four or an X-Men reboot because, well, I’ve seen those films already, just because they’ll come with a Disney logo doesn’t mean I’m going to be chomping at the bit for them. Now, I’m sure I’ll see some of them because I have kids and they love these films, probably even more than I do, but it just feels like, at least with Endgame, that the MCU finally grew up, and me along with them.
Understandably, they kind of rebooted themselves with their incredibly forced and logistically impossible preview of what will probably be an A-Force movie, but as dramatic as this will sound, I feel okay walking away from this franchise, at least for a while. Because the real heroes of this franchise, those first six Avengers, are done now. And I feel like I can walk away with them.
Unless Marvel and Disney get off their butts and finally make a Hawkeye/Black Widow buddy cop flick. Then I’m all in, all over again.