In 2012, the Marvel Cinematic Universe pulled off a feat that many thought impossible. It took four separate franchise trilogies of varying critics ratings and popularity and crossed them all over into a single "franchise universe" movie called The Avengers. It instantly changed the game for superhero films, pulling the rug out from under DC, who were left wondering how it’s Dark Knight Trilogy had just been shown up as last century’s news. Over a decade later, this MCU project is finishing up Phase III with the fourth Avengers crossover event. Is Avengers: Endgame the last Avengers movie?
It’s easy to assume that the answer is yes. Not only is this a project a decade in the making, but the closeout of 22 films, which in TV terms would be the end of a season. Moreover, rumors are rife several of the main characters who have anchored the franchise will not return. Chris Evans all but confirmed he was done with his "farewell message" to the fans when filming wrapped. The actor had always clearly chafed at the parameters put on him as Captain America (even as he relished the idea of being a Nazi-fighting hero in real life).
Robert Downey Jr, the leading man of the franchise as Iron Man, seems to be ready to become the godfather of it from a comfortable retired position. Moreover, Chris Hemsworth has made noises suggesting he’s willing to hang up Thor’s hammer and turn more to his true love of comedy.
However, as any comics fan will tell you, just because one superhero titleholder is ready to go put him or herself out to pasture doesn’t mean the end of the story. There are always sidekicks, friends, and family members waiting in the wings to pick up the mantle, put on the mask and carry on the tradition. (Not unlike the Dread Pirate Roberts in The Princess Bride.) These Avengers, in particular, may be ready to take a nice long vacation in Wakanda, but the franchise won’t end because of it.
But that’s the world of comic books. As much as the movies have held true to the Marvel ideals in many ways, it’s still a Disney franchise. Star Wars may have managed to go nine rounds, but that was with long breaks in between. The standard is a trilogy, maybe a tetralogy. But most of the time, after that, the title gets hung up or at least put away for a while.
The truth is, no one actually knows what’s next. Heck, considering how hard Disney’s worked to keep spoilers on lock, most fans will go in not even knowing how it ends, let alone what the franchise’s future plans are. Other than a Spider-Man: Far From Home film (which is really a Sony project that the MCU bills as part of their franchise), fans have no idea what’s to come in Phase IV. Some of the standalone films are all but confirmed, but crossovers are up in the air.
The merger of Disney and Fox, bringing the X-Men and Fantastic Four to the playing field also has upended any potential guesswork. The only way fans will know for sure if there’s another Avengers film as part of the next phase is just to wait and see.
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