What Has Built Up to “Avengers: Endgame”

Max Hess and Max Hess

“Avengers: Endgame” may not be the last in Disney’s line of Marvel superhero films, but as the title implies, it’s the end of a saga that’s been 11 years in the making.

“Avengers: Infinity War” and its upcoming second part “Avengers: Endgame” are the culmination of the 20 other Marvel films released by Disney since 2008. The original “Iron Man” started this ambitious project with Samuel L. Jackson as Colonel Nick Fury introducing his Avengers Initiative after protagonist Tony Stark reveals his identity as “Iron Man” to the public at the end of the movie. Since that fateful moment, the Marvel films have interwoven stories involving WWII super soldiers, Norse gods, ragtag extraterrestrials, humans sorcerers, etc. The Avengers themselves have gradually grown from a group of six extraordinary individuals to a complicated organization of over 20, including the Guardians of the Galaxy.

The Avengers franchise refined the superhero film genre into an art form that can consistently be enjoyed by mass audiences. In a lot of ways superhero films have become the modern equivalent to American Westerns, which dominated American entertainment in the first half of the 20th century. The Avengers have basically become a household name.

Even with an intense saturation of superhero films when “Avengers: Infinity War” came out, critics and audiences seem to agree that it was better than they expected, and that it lived up to the hype. The dozens of already-developed characters interacted with each other in ways that were compelling and at times hilarious. Although drenched in computer-generated imagery, the special effects, especially motion capture, could be seen as a breakthrough, having been nominated for the 2019 Best Visual Effects Oscar.

The plot of “Infinity War” is a crisis where heroes from Earth and space desperately try to prevent Thanos, a cosmic tyrant, from collecting the six infinity stones to erase half of all life in the universe. The film notoriously develops Thanos’s twisted conviction that he could and should use these means to balance life and resources on a universal scale. Meanwhile, the Avengers are underprepared, split into two factions as a result of the events that transpired in 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War.”

Thanos manages to reach his forbidden goal at the end of the “Infinity War,” as almost everyone is aware of at this point. The cliffhanger of the villain defeating the heroes, becoming omnipotent and literally snapping away half of all life raises questions about what could possibly happen in the next film. The trailers for “Avengers: Endgame” have not revealed much of the plot, except that the Avengers team will reunite for their shared goal.

After “Avengers: Endgame” some major actors like Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Chris Evans (Captain America) and Chris Hemsworth (Thor) will no longer be bound to their characters by contract. On the other hand, many of the deaths that occurred the last film will not be permanent. It’s a matter of speculation at this point, because Disney is secretive about matters like this.