After Endgame, How Will Marvel Fans Adjust to a Life without the Avengers?

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After Endgame, How Will Marvel Fans Adjust to a Life without the Avengers?

Illustration: Sushant Ahire

Break out the tissues and pass the popcorn, because after ten long years, the world is gearing up to bid farewell to the Avengers. Avengers: Endgame is releasing this Friday, and bears the unenviable burden of living up to the 21 preceding superhero movies in the MCU canon. It’s the last time we’ll get to see many of the characters whom we’ve come to know and love — and whose contracts are set to expire — and the last chance Marvel has to define their impact on the last decade of entertainment.

But let’s be honest: Endgame is only a small part of this last equation. Should the powers that be at Marvel decide to kill off all the remaining Avengers in a confrontation with Thanos, or make Captain Marvel go on a date with Rocket the Raccoon, fans have already made sure that the film will smash box office records. Projected to cross the billion-dollar sales mark worldwide in its first week of release, tickets have been sold out for days, thanks to dedicated Avengers diehards and casual moviegoers alike. In India, Endgame will be the first-ever movie to have showtimes round the clock, with screenings scheduled for as early as 3.20 am.  

No wonder the entire internet has been blowing up since the very first Endgame teaser was released, even though producer Kevin Feige has said that the promotions so far — including four trailers, half a dozen TV spots, first looks, post-credits scenes and clips — consists only of footage from the first 20 minutes of the three-hour extravaganza. Even this sparse material has been picked over millions of times by impatient nerds hunting for
Easter eggs. Fan theories have proliferated like mosquitoes in the monsoon, ranging from the pertinent (Ant-Man will be the one to avenge the fallen!) to the wishful (Scarlet Witch will return from the dead and fall in love with Mantis!)  

It’s the kind of buzz, or rather, roar, you’d expect leading up to the most ambitious crossover effort in cinema history. For years, we’ve looked forward to a new Marvel blockbuster each summer, arguing over which superheroes should be dug out from comic book obscurity, and whether it’s racist to think that Thor: Ragnarok is better than afrofuturist masterpiece, Black Panther. Even if you’ve never read a superhero comic in your life, the Avengers has helped Marvel permeate pop culture’s consciousness since its humble first attempt with Iron Man in 2008.

The real question, then, is this: What the hell are we all going to do when we no longer have the Avengers in our lives? Film journalist Scott Mendelson wonders the same in Forbes, suggesting that Endgame might be the last of the cinematic titans. Mendelson points out, “We live in an era of ever-more fractured entertainment tastes, one where the biggest of big franchises are wrapping up with little of approximate scale to take their place… I see little hope that new-to-cinema franchises can hope to match what Marvel pulled off. Endgame may be the last record-breaking mega-movie for quite some time.” And it certainly is hard to imagine another franchise filling the Hulk-sized shoes of the Avengers.

Still, Disney, Marvel’s parent company, is expected to account for nearly half of all ticket sales in North America this year. Maybe Disney will use the Avengers’ painstaking three-phase rollout strategy to develop their newly acquired X-Men properties, and silence cries of “superhero fatigue” as effectively as Marvel did. And of course, in this age of spoilers, first-day-first-show hype is built into the experience of any big release.

But this is no help at all to millions of Avengers fans who, in just a few days, will be bereft of their beloved Captain America and Black Widow. Can we expect a global period of mourning for a franchise that many of us grew up on? Will Endgame give us a delicious “Luke, I am your father” scene, one that we’ll play back for our children and grandchildren? Will poor Robert Downey Jr finally be able to quit this damn job and follow his dream of doing small arthouse films?

Most importantly — what will devotees of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes do now that there are no more trailers to slow down frame-by-frame, or post-credits scenes to sit in the theatre for? Will this insane boy, who has been to see Avengers: Infinity War a hundred times, have to find a new hobby? Fans may be forced to wait patiently for the next Wonder Woman, or look for solace in other fandoms.

For years, we’ve looked forward to a new Marvel blockbuster each summer, arguing over which superheroes should be dug out from comic book obscurity, and whether it’s racist to think that Thor: Ragnarok is better than afrofuturist masterpiece, Black Panther.

Perhaps over the next few months, lonely ex-Avengers watchers will be back to work, polluting Twitter with their Bojack Horseman Season 6 conspiracy theories, trying to make Student of the Year 2 action figures a thing. Most will probably still be swapping post-film analyses of what exactly went down in Endgame and pretending that any film Mark Ruffalo does from now on is just another Bruce Banner spin-off.

And all of them will be poised on tenterhooks for the next Marvel release. Because there’s no way Endgame is the demise of the greatest cash cow to hit the silver screen in decades, regardless of whether the Avengers arc is over. Black Panther 2 is waiting in the wings, as are Spider-Man: Far From Home and a new X-Men film, Dark Phoenix. For the Marvel fan, one truth seems to be eternal: Picture abhi baaki hai, mere dost.

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