As Endgame continues to break box office records, I want to explore the MCU and why this film is the perfect ending.
The first MCU film I ever saw was The Incredible Hulk back in 2008. This was the second film in the franchise and the first one to introduce the idea of a “cinematic universe”. Even though the film didn’t do well at the box office, with critics or with fans, I still respect it as the film that began a whole new chapter in the history of film.
The first five films introduced us to The Avengers, giving us an origin story for each. This was followed by the sixth film, Marvel’s The Avengers also known as Avengers Assemble, in 2012, in which the team of superheroes fight off Loki, the younger brother of Thor who was introduced in Thor (2011). This concluded “Phase One” of the MCU and left me wanting more. I remember being so excited seeing The Avengers for the first time, seeing all these superheroes coming together in the same film!
Unfortunately, “Phase Two” got off to a pretty disappointing start. Iron Man 3 is not a great film. I don’t have a problem with the changing of the antagonist – like everyone I’ve spoken to about this – it’s just that Guy Pearce’s character was not interesting at all and then the conclusion of the film is Tony Stark blowing up all of his suits, basically wasting the past three films (including The Avengers).
Then we have Thor: The Dark World. If you’ve never seen it, don’t bother. It’s a waste of time and an incredible waste of Christopher Eccleston.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier drops in 2014 and the MCU is back on its feet. I don’t know if people give the film more credit because the past two were pretty disappointing, but what I can say is that I thoroughly enjoyed it and it was a pretty solid and engaging film. However, The Winter Soldier is unique in the MCU because of its darker and grittier tone than the other films. Which is why, later that year, we were blessed with the colourful, playful and outright barmy Guardians of the Galaxy.
In my opinion, this film was a turning point for the MCU. Marvel often receives a lot of criticism for “following a formula” with their films. I can understand that. A lot of the MCU films following the same three act structure and Guardians is no exception. That said, what this film brings to the MCU is fresh ideas, fun dialogue and some beautiful moments. It also introduced a deeper exploration into the outer-space side of the Marvel Universe. We’d seen it briefly in stories involving Thor, but this opened it up completely.
Then the dreaded Avengers: Age of Ultron dropped. To sum up my thoughts on this film in one sentence: it was not good enough to be a part of the Avengers series. The plot was so weak and the characters’ motivations were too vague to make it engaging. It wasn’t all bad though, as we got introduced to The Vision, who has some of the best lines in the film.
Phase Two concluded with Ant-Man which was a nice little film. It wasn’t bogged down in the world of the Avengers and there were no prequels for it to live up to. It was also written as a heist story, which made it a little more interesting than the aforementioned “Marvel formula”.
Phase Three is the longest so far, containing ten films, four more than Phase One and Phase Two. We saw Captain America: Civil War which was essentially the Avengers film that should’ve happened instead of Age of Ultron, we were introduced to the world of sorcery in Doctor Strange, we got an anti-climatic Guardians sequel, we got the best Spider-Man film so far and then we got Thor: Ragnarok.
I want to take some time out to appreciate this film. The first two Thor films were underwhelming and, frankly, boring. Ragnarok director Taika Waititi took it and injected it with fun and we got my favourite film in the MCU so far. The only thing lacking in Ragnarok was more screen time for Jeff Goldblum and the planet Sakaar. Being a Thor film, it couldn’t shake the boring politics and kingdom of Asgard. Hopefully, we’ll see more of this new Thor and less of Asgard in future.
Black Panther came next. I have seen this film at least seven times and by now I am sick of the awful CGI. You’d think that, by now, they would have learnt their lesson.
Then Avengers: Infinity War was released.
I think it’s fair to say that this film shocked everyone. I complained earlier about the “Marvel formula”, but after seeing Infinity War I realised: “Wait, this is genius!”. Making everyone used to the same three act structure and the “everyone comes out alive” ending meant that Infinity War could have so much more power. And my goodness did they use it. Every cinema I saw it in was left in silence at the end and then we’re told to wait A YEAR until the next one.
In the meantime, Ant-Man and the Wasp was released, setting up nicely for the plot of Avengers: Endgame. Captain Marvel came out mere weeks before Endgame and provided some context to the character before she became the deus ex machina in the final Avengers film.
Avengers: Endgame finally released in cinemas on the 26th of April 2019 and what a film it was. If you go into it having seen none of the other MCU films, you will be mostly playing catch-up for three hours. But this film is meant for the die-hard fans. The ones who have invested over a decade of their lives in these characters. I made a promise to myself that I was going to see this film in the biggest screen in the country and so I did and I was blown away. Not only did they manage to give each character enough screen time to make them engaging, but they also concluded several story arcs at once and they did it well. We finally got some highly anticipated moments and we got a satisfying victory for the heroes. It may not be a perfect film, but it is the perfect ending.
What are we supposed to do now? We have one more film in this phase to go: Spider-Man: Far From Home. Will it be at all spending time on the events of Endgame? Will Marvel do something unexpected and open us up to the Multiverse? If not, then I fear it’s going to feel like it’s just been tagged on at the last minute. There are lots of questions, and only time will tell.
Featured image Copyright Walt Disney.