As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, there’s quite a lot to discuss regarding the latest Avengers movie and, like it or not, that discussion had best start sooner, rather than later. I understand that not everybody’s had a chance to see it yet — seeing as how crowded the movie theaters are and how scarce tickets seem to be in some areas — but that’s why God invented SPOILER WARNINGS.
So let this be your SPOILER WARNING: from here on out, I’m going to assume that you’ve either seen the movie already or you’re fine with finding out what’s been going on with it. So have I sufficiently cleared the room with my front-and-center SPOILER WARNING, then? Are only the true believers left? Okay, then. Let’s get down to business.
It wasn’t all that long ago that movies would begin with the opening credits and conclude with the end-credits. If a movie came with opening credits, you’d rarely have to sit through some prologue sequence beforehand. In fact, you could just show up right before the curtain call, sneak in with your bucket of popcorn, and rest assured that the movie would start when it started and not a moment before.
More importantly, however, you’d know that when the end credits hit, the movie was over. Caput. Nada leftover. Maybe you’d get a gag reel at the start of it, but nobody really cared. Maybe you’d get a niggling little bit at the end, but nobody cared. You’d never miss out on important plot points, sequel teasers, character beats or other narrative goodies by leaving the movie when, well, the movie said that you could leave.
That all changed with Iron Man (2008), when we didn’t get to meet Nick Fury until after the lights came up and the movie “ended.” And though it through people off at first, Marvel quickly trained an entire generation of moviegoers that the movie wasn’t over so long as there was celluloid left to project. In fact, you could miss out on some of the best parts of the movie by trying to duck out of it early and beat opening weekend traffic.
And so, twenty-odd movies in, we’ve grown to expect these movies to follow a particular formula: one of the core aspects of which were post-credit — and then mid-credit — sequences. Only the first Captain America (2011) bucked that trend, it still had a post-script scene that fit the bill, even if it technically took place before the credits proper. Every single other movie in the entire franchise came part and parcel with something extra at the end.
Not so with Endgame, however. Probably because they wanted to mark this one as something genuinely special — some remarkable little film that genuinely was the end of something special — we didn’t get anything at the end of the movie. We simply got the last scene and the credits. And yes, parts of the credits were incredibly stylized and were worth sticking around for anyway, but there was nothing at the end of the credits proper.
No teaser for Spider-Man: Far from Home (2019). No X-Men or Fantastic Four introduction to the MCU. No teaser for who’s going to challenge Earth’s mightiest heroes now that Thanos is gone. No nothing. Just credits, then the house lights.
I heard a lot of shocked gasps, and even a little bit of laughter, when the house lights came up at the end and there was nothing to reward the loyal viewers who stuck it out the whole way through. Mostly, though, I heard a lot of grumbling. People were annoyed. Some people were upset. Mostly, people expected more from the movie.
That’s not to say that the movie wasn’t good (it was great) or that it didn’t have enough content to justify its prodigious runtime (in truth, it had about three movies worth of stuff in it and made every last second count). I don’t think that it quite sink in until the end, when there was nothing left for the movie to say, that this was the end. Full stop. No chaser.
Now, obviously, this isn’t the end of the MCU. Another movie’s coming out in 6 weeks, which will kick off a whole new Phase of movies. The production cycle continues. The world keeps on spinning, with or without our fallen favorite Avengers. But this is the end of a story that began way back in 2008, and Marvel made sure that form followed function in this instance.
So should Endgame have ended with an end-credit scene? Honestly, no. The movie was great as-is. The lack of that final punctuation made it feel unique in a way that sank into your bones. After all was said and done, I appreciated the true-to-form end credits and my silent, solitary ride home to process everything that the movie made me feel for the preceding three hours. I needed that bit of silence, of finale, in my life right then and there to make sense of the immense spectacle that I just saw.
It was refreshing to see. It was powerful. It felt right. And, yes, it was all so unutterably perfect. No post-script necessary.
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