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Avengers: Endgame Things Marvel Has Already Gotten Right

There's no doubt that Avengers: Endgame is going to be one of the defining flicks of 2019. It will also likely be a seminal step in the future of Marvel's ever-expanding cinematic universe. While many of the most impressive facts and figures about Endgame will arrive via the box office, though, there's already an entire slew of things that the Marvel execs have managed to pull off with this epic two-part crossover that's noteworthy.

Endgame will be Marvel's 22nd film. It's also the last film of Phase 3, which means it heralds a massive changing of the guard. The film will close an epic decade-plus chapter of A-plus cinema, while simultaneously ushering in a bright and prolonged future of comic-to-screen adaptations to come. From marketing efforts (or lack thereof) to storytelling promises, from confirmed returning cast to the title of the thing, here are the things that Avengers: Endgame has already hit right out of the park.

Oh, the suspense

If you're interested in a movie, there's usually a good chance you'll be able to find out all about it before it ever hits the theater marquees. You might even learn more than you ever wanted to. This is especially true for blockbusters — all blockbusters, that is, except for Avengers: Endgame. Marvel (and Disney, by extension) have been masterful marketers with their fourth Avengers installment, ensuring that news, leaks, and spoilers (either official or otherwise) remain incredibly sparse over the months leading up to its release.

While Infinity War came out all the way back in late April 2018, the first trailer for the hotly anticipated second act was nowhere to be seen until the following December, less than half a year before Endgame was scheduled for release. By blockbuster hype standards, that's cutting it pretty close. Even more impressive was the fact that the title itself wasn't known until that trailer dropped. While it's true that a handful of leaks and rumors have slowly crept out in spite of everything Marvel's done to keep the lid on tight, the suspense that the paucity of information has created has been electrifying. It's been so effective, in fact, that one wonders what would have happened if they'd chosen to go with no trailer at all.

The excitement factor

Speaking of electrifying, another way that Avengers: Endgame has already been remarkably successful is thanks to the foundation laid by its predecessor. It's a testament to the strength of Infinity War that everyone and their mother is excited about Endgame. The two-part superhero story is a cultural phenomenon. Even if very little definitive knowledge is known about the story itself — by hardcore fans nearly as much as casual observers — it's clear from the cliffhanger ending of Infinity War that some pretty epic stuff is going to have to take place one way or another if Thanos is going to be stopped.

One way that fans, in particular, have managed to keep up their excitement with so little information to go on is by simply creating it their own. The near-silence has spawned an endless stream of theories from fans as they mull over each and every way that the powerfully gauntleted Thanos could be stopped and the finger snap could be undone. The rampant speculation has clearly had an effect — while some theories have proven more interesting than others, the sum of them has created an astronomical buzz. For a film with so little to go on, the intensity of the excitement factor is pretty impressive.

Shifting the tone

One interesting thing that is clearly taking place throughout the MCU is a shift in the overall storytelling tone. Historically, DC comics have long been committed to a sobering and serious feel in their film adaptations, thanks in large part to Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy. However, while it worked for Nolan's thoughtfully crafted films, the over-emphasis on the dark tone has been a bit of a drag ever since. Then, as 2018 drew to a close, Aquaman happened. The box office returns for this aquatic adventure proved to DC that its lighter, brighter vibe was exactly what audiences wanted. All of this happens to coincide neatly with Marvel's trend towards a more serious flavor for its originally quite bright, peppy universe.

The thing is, Marvel's shift isn't a foreboding of bad things to come. In this case, the two franchises each seem to be moving in the right direction. As Ben Kuchera from Polygon put it, "The competing mega-franchises are following opposite paths, and it's working." As far as the official trailers have shown us so far, it seems pretty clear that Endgame is going to bring the mood down quite a bit for the MCU, and yet, at this point, it seems to be just what the doctor ordered.

Raising the stakes

Speaking of sobering, one of the greatest criticisms of Marvel's past movies is the fact that they can't seem to really, truly create stakes that are worth giving a darn about. In Captain America: Civil War, the two superhero teams duked it out for over two hours with the worst damage being Rhodey's injuries (even though he clearly was going to survive). Infinity War finally brought home the pain of losing heroes through the death of Gamora and the devastating finger snap, but it didn't take long before the skepticism set in and everyone shrugged, "What if they just undo it and everything goes back to normal?"

It's a fair question. Wouldn't that make all of the drama ultimately for nothing? Fortunately, it's also a question that the Russo brothers answered directly. Anthony Russo declared that "Unless you have real stakes, you're sort of limited in terms of the emotional impact a story can have on you... What we're looking for in storytelling or art is emotional catharsis. And that's not simply getting what you want. It's getting an emotional experience that makes you feel and respond to it and energizes you on some level." Joe Russo added that "This is a fantasy world, and yes, remarkable things can happen in a fantasy world, [but] they come at an incredibly high cost." Hearing the directors' view regarding the stakes involved in a good story reaffirms that Endgame will deliver.

Going cosmic

It's no secret that the physical boundaries of the MCU are expanding quickly. Before Thanos arrived on the scene in Infinity War, most storylines were fairly earth-centric and contained within reasonably digestible limits. Sure, the Thor and Guardians of the Galaxy franchises helped introduce intergalactic concepts, but their stories remained relatively tangential to the larger Avengers plots. However, Endgame is poised to continue to pick up where Infinity War left off by integrating these intergalactic concepts right into the fabric of the Avengers storyline itself.

Infinity War already took to the cosmos as a portion of the crew spent time on Titan and Nidavellir. This space focus has already been continued via the first trailer for Endgame, which opens on Tony Stark adrift with Nebula in the Guardians' ship. In addition, the position of the film on the heels of Captain Marvel's release promises an even more galactic scaling. The Kree-infused super-warrior is accustomed to space travel, and her arrival in Endgame will go far in helping to expand everyone's earth-centric expectations to a new level of size and complexity that long-time comic fans have long been accustomed to.

Opening other doors

While larger concepts of space and time will certainly factor into Endgame, the movie will also bring the Quantum Realm into play. Up until now, the Quantum Realm has been a fairly Ant-Man-specific topic, with Scott Lang heading down into the unpredictable region on more than one occasion. However, multiple actors have confirmed at this point that the realm where "all concepts of time and space become irrelevant" is going to have a pretty important role in Endgame.

A while back none other than the king of spoilers, Tom Holland himself, lit up the airwaves when he said that Doctor Strange actor Benedict Cumberbatch had the most difficult lines in Endgame since he had to "talk about so much Quantum Realm... stuff." The Quantum Realm confirmations only got more serious, though, when Hank Pym actor Michael Douglass confirmed that the Quantum Realm was "the key" to Endgame as well as "all the next chapters, I think, of the Marvel films." Knowing that the vast potential of the Quantum Realm will be impacting more than Scott Lang's corner of the universe is a positive that's sure to make a splash when Endgame reaches the big screen, especially when one considers the time traveling potential that it brings with it.

The title

From the moment the first Endgame trailer was released, fans started complaining about how the Russo Brothers had lied about the title. In an interview with Uproxx, the co-directors had been directly asked if the name of the then-untitled fourth Avengers film was spoken in Infinity War. Joe Russo seemed to put the matter to bed at the time with a terse "No." Fans were left scratching their heads, clearly remembering a dramatic declaration from Doctor Strange in the finale of Infinity War: "We're in the endgame now." In the Russos' defense, they may have been exploiting a technicality in an attempt to avoid spoilers, seeing how Strange doesn't literally say "Avengers: Endgame."

Lie or not, though, the bigger point here shouldn't have been a comment from the directors, but rather the fact that the title really is a good one. Not only does it sum up everything that Avengers 4 is about, but it also hearkens all the way back to Avengers: Age of Ultron, when Stark refers to "the endgame" that's coming, and who doesn't love a good continuity tie-in? Now that the endgame has arrived, there's no doubt that the title fits the film.

Bringing back Saldana

The Guardians of the Galaxy franchise is one of the best things that ever happened to the MCU. The witty overtones, fast-paced action, and tongue-in-cheek quips — all in a dazzling cosmic setting — haven't been truly matched since, with the possible exception of Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok. While the third GotG installment may be held up for the moment, though, the bigger issue for the galaxy-saving band in the short term was the fact that all of the Guardians except Rocket crumbled to ashes at the end of Infinity War.

While the likely scenario that the finger snap is undone could help restore Quill, Drax, Mantis, and Groot, an even more complicated question was the fate of Gamora. She wasn't a victim of the snap, instead being killed by Thanos in exchange for the Soul Stone earlier in the film. Initially, it seemed like the daughter of Thanos may have been killed off for good, and that does still stand as a possibility.

However, Gamora actress Zoe Saldana put her fans' minds at rest, at least when it comes to Endgame, when she posted updates of herself engaged in reshoots for the film. While her involvement could simply come in the form of a flashback or even a scene from within the Soul Stone, it's pretty clear that she'll be coming back for the Phase 3 finale, and for that, we are eternally grateful.

Integrating Ant-Man

Scott Lang has had a couple of run-ins with the Avengers at this point, although it was never officially as a part of the team. He came in on Cap's side during Civil War (although he almost ended up personally recruited by Stark originally), where he made a big splash in the fight at the airport. Before that, he had given Falcon a run for his money when he stopped in at the Avengers' upstate HQ in his original solo flick.

In Endgame, though, it looks like we're finally going to get to see Ant-Man fighting with the good guys against the bad guys, which should be a treat. In fact, the little guy got a ton of screen time in the first Endgame trailer, which ended with an extended clip focusing on his arrival at the upstate HQ yet again, although this time he used the front door and had his Quantum van in tow. The fact that the Quantum Realm is likely to play a predominant role in the film makes his presence that much more exciting, as it may signify that he's destined to be more than just a soldier filling up the ranks, as he was in Civil War.

The conclusion of Hulk's arc

A while back Mark Ruffalo explained that Hulk has been going through his own story arc in the background during Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War, and that it would continue into Endgame. In other words, the typical storyline that is the subject matter of a single movie had been spread out and woven throughout those three movies, in effect giving Hulk a beginning, middle, and end to his own personal journey without needing him to carry a film all on his own.

This is good news for Endgame, as we'll be watching the climax of Hulk and Banner's ongoing struggle to come to grips with each other. We saw them diametrically at odds on Sakaar and Asgard, followed by Hulk literally withdrawing and avoiding the entire conflict of Infinity War. As the directors made clear after the fact, he didn't do so out of fear so much as being tired of "playing hero to Bruce Banner." With the story arc wrapping up in Endgame, we're in for a treat one way or another. Will Hulk finally come out to play? Will we see Professor Hulk? Will Hulk wield the Infinity Gauntlet? Will he lose an arm? If, how, and when will the Jade Giant play into the entire Endgame scenario? Whatever the answers are, it's sure to be a trip.

Answering questions

One of the more obvious (if vague) things that Endgame will be sure to provide is answers, and it's about time. The cliffhanger ending of Infinity War, combined with the foreknowledge that fans would have to wait a full year to get more of the story, was already a pretty big curveball for everyone to process. However, the reticence and overall lack of information that's followed in the movie's wake have left everyone dying to get some closure.

We need more information on absentee characters like Hulk, Lang, and Barton. How does the post-snap fallout look? We already saw a few shots of that one in the Super Bowl spot, but it wasn't enough by a long shot. How will the heroes reconnect? When will Steve Rogers and Tony Stark finally get into the same room together? How will Stark get back from Titan in the first place? Where is Captain Marvel throughout all of this? The questions just keep going. Thank goodness there's a light at the end of the tunnel.

Going out with a bang

Last but certainly not least, the enormous size and scope of Endgame guarantee that Kevin Feige and company plan to close out Phase 3 of the MCU not with a whimper, but with a bang. The MCU started over ten years ago, and it's had an absolutely epic run, gaining steam practically at every turn. As its momentum has grown, the films have risen to the occasion, culminating with this epic, two-part conclusion whose first half has already more than lived up to expectations.

The fact that Endgame rests in the capable hands of the Russo brothers is an encouraging fact, as well, as some of the MCU's best films have been helmed by the dynamic duo. However, while all of their previous forays into Marvel's universe have been immensely successful, it's hard not to peg Endgame as their magnum opus. Everything up until now has angled towards this giant culmination, which promises to be about as fitting an ending to Phase 3 as anyone could have ever hoped for.