- Avengers: Endgame had a higher level of anticipation than Infinity War, which made it difficult for the film to live up to the insane expectations set by its predecessor.
- Infinity War’s setup was easier than Endgame’s conclusion, as closing chapters often struggle to provide satisfying endings. Endgame’s finality led to a bloated runtime and the feeling that the film should have ended multiple times despite being a satisfying ending.
- Infinity War’s ending was genuinely shocking, while Endgame’s ending lacked the same punch. The shocking cliffhanger of Infinity War left a lasting impact, unlike Endgame’s neatly wrapped-up conclusion. Additionally, Endgame lacked a proper villain that could match Thanos from Infinity War due to Thanos from the former being from the past.
While Avengers: Endgame satisfyingly ended the MCU’s Infinity Saga, it failed to surpass the lofty heights of Avengers: Infinity War. Initially announced as Avengers: Infinity War – Part I and Part II, the third and fourth Avengers movies were always expected to be a two-part epic to round out the first saga of Marvel Studios’ cinematic universe. Eventually retitled as Infinity War and Endgame, both movies lived up to the hype of culminating 11 years of storytelling that is only set to continue with Avengers: The Kang Dynasty‘s story.
The excitement leading up to Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame especially was unlike anything ever seen in modern Hollywood, a level of excitement that may not even be eclipsed by the wait for Avengers: Secret Wars‘ release date. Despite the overwhelming anticipation for Avengers: Endgame, the film was not classed as a home run success like its predecessor. While Avengers 4 still broke box office records and was very well received by critics and audiences alike, there were a handful of factors as to why Endgame was never going to be able to live up to the standards set by Avengers: Infinity War.
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Avengers: Infinity War
Avengers: Endgame Had More Anticipation Than Infinity War
The first reason as to why Avengers: Endgame could not beat Avengers: Infinity War was the former’s level of anticipation. Avengers: Infinity War was sufficiently anticipated, yet many knew in the back of their minds that the story would not be continued until the fourth installment. Given this situation, Avengers: Infinity War ended on a huge cliffhanger which made the wait for Avengers: Endgame nigh on unbearable.
As has often been the case with installments in major franchises that hold a high level of anticipation, the film was naturally going to fail to live up to insane expectations. Be it Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace or Star Wars: The Force Awakens, major franchises tend to be met with disappointment if their anticipation rises above most blockbusters. While Avengers: Endgame was certainly far from a disappointment, the level of anticipation it held above Avengers: Infinity War meant the latter had less trouble overcoming fan expectations than the former.
Avengers: Infinity War’s Setup Was Easier Than Endgame’s Conclusion
Another reason as to why Endgame found it difficult to surpass Infinity War was its nature as a closing chapter. Major franchises have often found it difficult to provide satisfying endings, especially those that have a great deal of anticipation attached to them. From feature film blockbusters like Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, The Terminator franchise, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, Toy Story, or The Dark Knight trilogy to TV shows like Game of Thrones, Dexter, or How I Met Your Mother, it has often proven a grueling task for studios to provide compelling end chapters that stand above prior entries.
While Avengers: Endgame largely does just that and ends the MCU’s Infinity Saga on an overly satisfying note, it still remains an ending story. This means that Endgame comes with the somewhat frustrating elements of finality such as a bloated runtime, lingering plot threads that are left unsolved, and the film having multiple points at which it could end. This means that Avengers: Endgame is less streamlined as a film than its predecessor due to its nature as a conclusion.
With Avengers: Infinity War, however, these issues were not present. Setting up a story is much easier than concluding one, especially when the set-up in question has a very defined beginning, middle, and ending. Infinity War is one of these cases, with the film telling the satisfying story of Thanos’ conquest of the cosmos while still ending on an exciting cliffhanger for the next story to wrap up.
Avengers: Infinity War’s Ending Was Genuinely Shocking (Endgame’s Wasn’t)
Concerning Avengers: Infinity War‘s cliffhanger ending, it is still the most shocking ending in the entire MCU. Throughout the entire Infinity Saga, the MCU’s heroes had never lost a major battle nor had many stories been left with a cliffhanger, post-credit sequences notwithstanding. However, Avengers: Infinity War included both elements, showing half of all life in the entire universe being wiped out by Thanos. In doing so, the Avengers lost for the first time in the MCU with the ending section of Infinity War showing beloved heroes fading into dust making for one of the franchise’s most shocking sequences.
With Avengers: Endgame, the film’s ending lacked the same stunning punch that Infinity War possessed. Endgame had to end the story that Infinity War left open, meaning its ending was neatly wrapped up without lingering plot threads. Similarly, the biggest events of Endgame‘s ending included the death of Tony Stark/Iron Man and the retirement of Steve Rogers/Captain America. While these were satisfying culminations of both characters’ journeys, neither story point was shocking and both were expected from fans of the MCU before the film’s release.
This all proves another reason why Endgame could not match Infinity War. There is a reason why cliffhanger endings are often revered among cinema fans, partly due to the impact they leave audiences with. Not only did Avengers: Infinity War‘s shocking conclusion have this effect, but it was bolstered tenfold by the MCU’s lack of anything like it at the time. Despite being satisfying, Avengers: Endgame could never have hoped to eclipse this, meaning the film could not outmatch its predecessor in that regard.
Avengers: Endgame Didn’t Have A PROPER Villain
Finally, the last reason behind Avengers: Endgame‘s failure to match its predecessor was not having a proper villain to match Thanos from Avengers: Infinity War. While Thanos had a presence in the fourth movie, the same version of the character from the third was only involved in the film’s cold opening. For the remainder of the film, Thanos is largely absent until a past version from 2014 travels to the future and battles the Avengers one last time. This worked for the story Endgame was telling, though it did somewhat diminish Thanos’ MCU role from Avengers: Infinity War.
The version of Thanos found in the third Avengers film was extra compelling given that he had been teased in the MCU since 2012. It truly felt like Thanos’ battle against the Avengers in Infinity War had been brewing for almost a decade before coming to a head in an immensely satisfying journey. This, combined with the depth of character provided for Thanos, allowed the Mad Titan to become the best villain the MCU has ever had. With Avengers: Endgame though, the villainous presence of 2014 Thanos felt like an afterthought in favor of the film’s focus on satisfyingly culminating the Infinity Saga.