Saturday, 8 December 2018


This piece is not really about Big Story spoilers for the Marvel superheroes movie Avengers: Endgame (2019). I have not seen a script, so comments here are purely speculative and based upon some recent comics I’ve read, and expectations for a conclusion to the greatest franchise of movies the 21st century has produced, so far. It seems that, plot-wise, the two directors of Avengers: Infinity War have painted themselves into a corner. Ending Marvel's epic sci-fi and fantasy narrative with a darkly contrived failure for teams of heroes fighting space tyrant Thanos means that few compelling, or even quite satisfactory and clearly logical, story options remain available to be explored in the 2019 sequel, especially since an obvious requirement of next year's movie is to present an example of superhero cinema with something not already seen in the comic-books.    

With just a snap of his fingers, cosmic serial-killer Thanos used his Infinity Gauntlet to exterminate half of all life in the universe. How can a surviving fifty percent overcome a loss of such magnitude, and maintain their sanity in the aftermath? If the next movie is going to use time-travel as the final solution to this cosmic slaughter, where do the original Avengers draw the line in carrying out their vengeance? Do throw-away jokes at the very end of Deadpool 2 offer hints about the genre plot of Avengers: Endgame?

In typical SF plots about time-travel, a common thought-experiment asks: would you kill Adolf Hitler before WW2 and so prevent the Holocaust? This might be the ultimate moral dilemma of superheroes: whether or when to kill the villain - and is the prevention of evil better than any cure? Will the Avengers travel back in time to fight Thanos just before his galactic crime-spree (stealing the six Infinity stones), or could they go back even further in time to avert his attack upon the young Gamora’s planet, or to stop the destruction of Thanos’ own home-world of Titan? What about simply killing Thanos just after he’s born?

Thanos has not fought the main four original Avengers (Thor, Hulk, Iron Man, and Captain America) all at once, so that battle might well fulfil one requirement of the sequel for many Marvel fans, but if the movie’s climax is all about stopping Thanos before his genocidal action even begins, that becomes a classic sci-fi example of revising an entire timeline, something that is wholly consistent with the ret-con practice for a shared universe in superhero comics. Does it mean that the complete Marvel franchise could be re-launched with a clean slate after Avengers: Endgame?

Since Disney bought 20th Century Fox, and now own both the X-Men and Fantastic Four movie franchises, perhaps that’s what Marvel is planning to do next. Can the Avengers timeline be re-written to merge with the X-Men prequels? Is an ‘Avengers vs. X-Men’ movie (or a trilogy?) going to be the next major project from Marvel?