Enjoy it while you can.
Avengers: Endgame hits theaters on Friday, and the fourth film in the franchise will likely shatter a few records before the weekend wraps. The film already earned more than $300 million in just two days of international release, and there’s a chance Endgame could do the same stateside before Sunday ends.
Plus, fan and critical reaction has been almost uniformly strong. The film boasts a 96 percent “Fresh” critics’ rating at Rotten Tomatoes, along with an equally robust 93 percent from ticket buyers.
That’s the good news. It’s what happens next that should concern fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or MCU.
Avengers: Endgame is the unofficial end of the series’ first wave of films. We’ve seen a few disappointments so far (think Iron Man 3 and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2), but the level of excellence has been breathtaking.
Consider the giddy pleasures of the Ant Man series, or the creative splendor on display in Black Panther.
What’s missing? Hollywood’s progressive groupthink. These films focused on storytelling, great characters and themes that resonate across the culture. Heroes. Villains. The power of sacrifice. The nobility of fighting for a common good.
The stories didn’t stop cold to send a message or dabble in virtue signaling. That’s what we often see across the pop culture landscape. TV shows routinely slip pro-gun control messages into their narratives, for example. And boy, does it show.
The MCU didn’t do that, but that could be changing.
Consider Captain Marvel.
Yes, the Brie Larson feature crushed the box office following its March 8 release. The film itself proved arguably the weakest MCU entry, though. More telling, the screenplay inserted a number of “empowering” and “feminist” moments even a visually impaired viewer couldn’t miss.
Once again, audiences suffered as a result.
Yet the MCU’s brilliant ringleader, Kevin Feige, says Larson’s Captain Marvel is the future of the superhero film franchise. Yes, the least interesting character, by a large margin, shall lead them.
The worries don’t stop there.
Feige repeatedly embraces the MCU’s woke future in interviews. He’s vowed future films will be more inclusive, more diverse. He’s sung the praises of Avengers co-star Chris Evans’ progressive messaging on social media. Imagine Feige’s reaction had Evans tweeted a picture of him wearing a certain red hat.
We even saw a tiny peek of woke virtue signaling in the latest Avengers movie.
Microscopic “Avengers: Endgame” spoiler ahead.
A massive battle features a scene where an imperiled character is rescued by a flood of all-female heroes. The fight, to that point, featured both men and women in full, furious action. The sequence is obvious, clunky and clearly meant to send a message.
The future is female?
Sure, it’s a very small moment in an otherwise robustly entertaining saga. Will future MCU movies be able to deliver the same?