There’s no doubt that the follow-up to Avengers: Infinity War will have a hugely dramatic effect on the Marvel landscape. From the beginnings of a new era to the newcomers who’ll lead the franchise into the future, here are some of the many different ways that Endgame could change the MCU… forever. The breaking of the fellowship The precise details of actors’ contracts can be tricky to pin down, and it’s only made more difficult with MCU stars thanks to Marvel’s notoriously tight-lipped style of doing business.
However, it’s clear that Endgame is the end of the line for at least some, if not nearly all, of the original six Avengers. Chris Hemsworth hinted in early 2018 that he was hanging up his hammer as Thor, while Chris Evans teased an emotional farewell in the fall of the same year. In addition, both Vanity Fair and Time have reported that Endgame finds all six actors either at or near the ends of their contracts. “I’m gonna miss these little talks of ours.” There’s always the possibility of renegotiation: Robert Downey Jr., for example, has already extended his contract multiple times.
But odds are that, one way or another, Endgame is going to be the swan song for the saga’s original band of heroes. It’s a heartbreaking truth, of course, as the MCU has largely revolved around these characters for over a decade. But with so many new adventures on the horizon, Marvel is sure to keep things exciting, even if it’s hard to imagine a Marvel Universe where characters like Hulk, Thor, and Black Widow aren’t getting in on the action. Tony Stark While there are many familiar faces that would be missed after their departure from the MCU, the hardest pill to swallow coming out of Endgame will probably be the loss of Tony Stark. When Robert Downey Jr. told the press that he wanted his MCU career to end on a high, the message was pretty clear: there weren’t going to be any more contract extensions after Endgame.
And sure, all good things do have to come to an end, but the absence of Stark from the larger storyline is almost impossible to imagine. The reformed billionaire playboy has managed to influence nearly every corner of the MCU. He’s been around since day one, was pivotal in forming the Avengers, and has acted as a linchpin for the entire Infinity Saga storyline. Not only did he have that prophetic vision in Age of Ultron, but Thanos’ evident respect for the hero just underscores how important Tony Stark has been in terms of gluing the MCU together. What happens when that glue is removed? It’s a question that will be answered soon enough.
Steve Rogers Chris Evans alarmed fans when he penned what appeared to be an emotional farewell after he finished his last reshoots for Endgame in October 2018. The uproar was quelled a little when Vanity Fair reported co-director Joe Russo’s comment that Evans was “not done yet,” but the Russo brothers have toyed with fans’ expectations before, and no matter what either of them might say publicly, all signs continue to point to the likelihood that Steve Rogers will finally hang up his shield in Avengers: Endgame. Whether it comes via retirement or death, the implications of Rogers’ departure from the franchise are highly significant.
Like Tony Stark, Steve Rogers has had a prolonged impact on both the Avengers and the MCU as a whole. He’s served as the group’s moral compass, bringing a real sense of heart and soul to the entire operation. New characters like Captain Marvel mean the Avengers will have all the muscle they need moving forward, but it’s hard to imagine who could take Captain America’s place if he bows out during Endgame. The death of a hero Marvel has always had a hard time letting go of their superheroes.
No matter how tough the fight may be, the sacrifices required have hardly ever resulted in the literal, irrevocable death of a hero. During Captain America: Civil War, the worst things to come out of the Avengers’ devastating feud were War Machine’s injuries and a few damaged relationships. The few seemingly-permanent superhero deaths in the MCU have either been inflicted on one-off characters or on those who still have at least a pretty good chance of coming back.
In Endgame, however, there’s the distinct possibility that we’ll finally witness the permanent death of a leading hero. “I got no plans tomorrow night.” Anthony and Joe Russo have remarked more than once that they’re determined to underscore the action with real-world stakes. In an interview with Variety after Infinity War’s release, the Russos warned fans that, although remarkable things can happen in a fantasy world, they have to come at an incredibly high cost. If Endgame manages to finally let go of one or more of the lead Avengers, say Captain America or Iron Man, for example, it could completely reshape the MCU canvas heading into Phase 4.
Changing the tone Endgame is primed to continue the shift in tone that fans felt at the end of Infinity War. While there will always be films like Thor: Ragnarok and the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise to keep audiences laughing, the future of the MCU could be heading in a more serious direction. Up until recently, Marvel’s universe has tended to be bright and colorful, in its visual aesthetic as well as its dialogue. Comic relief was a constant presence, and a certain self-awareness of the suspension of disbelief was always present.
However, as Phase 3 wraps up, the future of the MCU is looking more serious. Case in point: the Decimation. Infinity War ended with half of all life in the universe gone. And while it was technically the first half of a two-part story, the conclusion seems to only be offering us another dose of heartbreak as the team strives to fix the damage. Is the end of Phase 3 simply a blip on the otherwise lighthearted Marvel universe? Not likely.
The higher stakes in Endgame should have repercussions that will be felt throughout the MCU for years to come. Coming together Up to now, the prime narrative of the MCU so far has tended to focus on Earth-bound heroes. Sure, Thor came from Asgard, but even his storylines usually moved between his own kingdom and Earth. Even some of the more mystical heroes such as Doctor Strange have gotten drawn into the Avengers’ action from time to time. There’s one group, though, that had never met Earth’s mightiest heroes prior to Infinity War: the Guardians of the Galaxy. Throughout Infinity War, the two groups of heroes crossed paths on Titan and in Wakanda.
Despite some rocky beginnings, the two teams eventually formed a united front against Thanos that was stronger than the Avengers could’ve been alone. The trailers for Endgame have already shown that the remaining Guardians and Avengers will continue to work together. That alliance is a fun one to watch play out in Infinity War, and the possibility of seeing the two superhero groups working together in the future is a tantalizing prospect. The New Avengers at the forefront Marvel chief Kevin Feige has gone on record to say that Captain Marvel wasn’t just an exciting new face for the franchise, she was also, quote, “as powerful a character as we’ve ever put in a movie.” Feige’s confirmation that Carol Danvers is the mightiest hero in the MCU hardly came as a surprise to anyone who saw Captain Marvel, but the MCU’s head honcho also casually dropped a little more information on Danvers regarding her future status in the franchise: “Captain Marvel is about to take the lead and be the forefront of the entire cinematic universe.”
While it’s unclear just what “taking the lead” will mean after Endgame’s credits roll, Danvers is a great character to head up the MCU’s ongoing story. So will she actually lead the Avengers, as some fans have taken Feige’s statement to mean? The team already has a pair of de facto leaders in Tony Stark and Steve Rogers… and with Downey and Evans’ contracts reportedly coming to a close after this film, there’s at least a possibility that their interpretations could turn out to be correct.
Either way, it’s at least nice to know that Marvel has another leader already waiting in the wings, in addition to still under-explored characters like Black Panther and Doctor Strange. Assuming they return to the MCU by the third act of Endgame, there are plenty of leaders in addition to Danvers ready to take up the Avengers’ mission after Cap and Iron Man ride off into the sunset. Sagas In an interview with Empire Magazine, Kevin Feige dubbed the first 22 MCU movies “The Infinity Saga,” adding that Marvel executives, quote, “wanted to bring to a conclusion a series of movies in a way that had never been done before.” It’s a fitting name, as the stories of the Infinity Stones have been interwoven throughout all three phases of the MCU so far. “One down, five to go.” While the Infinity Saga has been a heck of a ride all on its own, one side effect of Feige’s comment is that it has added yet another layer to the categorization of MCU films.
Now, in addition to “phases,” we also have “sagas.” While anticipation for Phase 4 has long since reached a fever pitch, especially with Marvel about to take nearly a year off before releasing any new films, the next thing fans need Feige to reveal is what the next saga is going to be titled… unless, of course, he’s planning on waiting over ten years and 22 more movies before doing so. The Quantum Realm The pair of Ant-Man films that took place within the Infinity Saga didn’t have too much of an effect on the greater Avengers storyline.
Sure, he showed up in supersize mode during the airport encounter in Captain America: Civil War, but that was about as far as his role in the early MCU went. Even after Infinity War, Ant-Man and the Wasp stayed fairly narrow in its scope until the credits scene showed us the fate of the Pyms, and where Scott Lang happened to be when Thanos snapped. The second film, in particular, also dove deep into the concept of the Quantum Realm. Hank Pym, Hope van Dyne, and Scott Lang spent the majority of the story trying to get to the Quantum Realm and back in order to try to save Janet van Dyne, who returned with a ton of new information about the mysterious, otherworldly region. While Ant-Man and the Quantum Realm seem certain to play a role in Endgame, Hank Pym actor Michael Douglas took things a step further during an interview on On Air with Ryan Seacrest.
He explained: “The Quantum Realm, that’s the key. The Quantum Realm plays an important part in all the next chapters, I think, of the Marvel films.” Bigger costs In early 2018 Disney revealed that, up to that point, Avengers: Age of Ultron was the most expensive Marvel film ever made, with costs adding up to just shy of half a billion dollars. Extravagant? Perhaps. But with most of these blockbusters raking in a billion or more at the box office alone, the costs were more than justified.
But the pricey productions didn’t stop there. The third and fourth Avengers films were rumored to have a billion-dollar budget at their combined disposal, with both features being filmed back to back. That said, Disney’s report also showed that Infinity War reined in the expenses to just under a third of a billion, leaving over $600 million available to finish off the story. While the astronomical size and scope of Endgame certainly have the potential to easily use up a budget that large, it begs the question: how does that lavish spending change the standard for future Marvel movies? Is that going to be par for the course in a few years? If so, you can bet your bottom dollar the already impressive quality of most MCU films is about to be turned up a notch or two.
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