by T. Mack
During the Summer of 2008, my husband and I, along with our friends, had a strict schedule. Each week in May, June, and July, there was a new film release for us to see. We were all young and childless with what now feels like endless expendable income and boundless hours of unencumbered time. I made a chart and each Friday night, we met up for dinner and a show. It was a glorious summer. And it all began on May 2, 2008 with an iffy little venture starring an alcoholic star looking to make a comeback.
Years earlier, Marvel Comics had given away their A-list superheroes. X-Men and Fantastic Four were at Fox, Spider-man was at Sony… You get it. But now, Marvel was starting their own studio with the B Team. That’s not to say these heroes weren’t great. They were. But mostly only comic book nerds really knew much about them. Fortunately, I was married to one such nerd, so I had the inside scoop. First up in the line-up from Marvel was Iron Man, starring a half washed-up Robert Downey, Jr. Everyone sort of remembered him. He was that guy that everyone looked at his photo and said something along the lines of, “Hey, didn’t that guy get arrested for shooting someone or something?”
On that legendary day in early May, we went to the theater, purchased our popcorn (back in those days we could still afford luxuries like that) and sat through that classic MCU logo for the first time. The movie was amazing. It was funny, and heartwarming, and exciting, and everything freaks and geeks like us could have asked for. And that after-credits scene was totally worth the wait! We were instantly hooked on the MCU! And we never looked back.
For the last 11 years, I have jumped feet first into the deep end of all the MCU hype. I’ve put my dollars where my mouth is and made sure to spend my money on opening weekend for each and every MCU film. I’ve done reviews, videos, and made personal recommendations. I’ve offered to refund money out of my own pocket if someone went to see one of my highest MCU recommendations and didn’t love the film. I’ve become a scholar of sorts in the field of superheroes so that I can explain to people why it’s not childish for adults to relate to superheroes (check out my article here). I’ve written numerous articles, had countless discussions, and spent untold hours doing research and gathering information on the topic of the films, the characters, and the MCU as a whole.
Last week, on April 26, 2019, nearly 11 years to the day that it all began, the MCU repaid all my love and support by blessing me (and all the fans like me) with Avengers: Endgame. This film was more than a movie. It was the beautiful completion of what began on May 2, 2008. It was a love letter to fans who have been faithful to the franchise for more than a decade. It was a full emotional payoff of all that we’ve been through with these characters through 11 years and 21 films. It was joyful, and painful, and glorious, and sad, and thrilling, and emotional, and amazing. And on top of all that, it still managed to be a damned fine film. It was the end of an era. I couldn’t have asked for more.
The MCU will continue. I know that. We have at least three sequels on the horizon. The one hitting theaters this July–Spider-man: Far From Home–is said to be the actual end of the MCU’s Phase 3. Disney’s streaming service, Disney Plus, is launching Nov 12 and will bring TV shows featuring Loki, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Falcon, and Winter Soldier. Black Widow is also supposed to be getting a film some time in the next couple of years. So obviously, Endgame is not the end.
However, Endgame is still an end. It’s the end of a very specific era. It’s the end of the first giant MCU story arc (the first film franchise story arc of its kind). It’s the closing of a book. While the book has a sequel–more stories that exist in the same world–we have to admit that this story has ended. Though the world and the characters will continue, it will never be quite the same.
While it’s true that stories and worlds can grow and become better over time as one book passes into others, I’m not certain that’s what will happen here. I have to think that with all the extra access we will soon have to these characters, the novelty that has existed of seeing them on the big screen for the last 11 years will die away. We will lose much of what made these films so special as the market becomes saturated with these characters. If you get to see Loki being Loki on television each week for 3 months out of the year, it’s no longer special when you see him on the big screen once every two years.
I suspect that Avengers: Endgame will come at some point to be known as the marker for the end of “The Golden Age of Superhero Movies.” I am incredibly grateful to have been able to experience that Golden Age, which to me began with Iron Man. It has been a pleasure to be part of the fandom and a privilege to get to go along for the adventure.
Thank you to to the hard-working men and women of the MCU for bringing these characters and adventures to life for us to enjoy. On behalf of me and all the other fans… we love you 3,000.