Avengers: Endgame — The emotionally rewarding collective viewing experience that was the MCU finale
Avengers: Endgame provided the perfect medium for fans worldwide to bond over their shared loss
Disclaimer: This article contains spoilers for Avengers: Endgame
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Avengers: Endgame was an end of an era. Eleven years and 22 films later, millions of fans worldwide deal with a sense of loss. This loss far surpasses the grief for the fallen superheroes after Endgame. The vacuum that Marvel films, as a unit, has created in the minds and hearts of viewers is unimaginable. Most now find themselves deprived of the opportunity to invest in a long-running franchise, known to give its audiences worthy cinematic returns.
As a franchise, Marvel has grown to enormous statures. Its cinematic universe has successfully created super-humans which not only motivated audiences but also made them feel like they were part of each hero's genesis. With a mammoth fan-base, this cinematic juggernaut created spectacles even in terms of theatrical experiences.
Endgame was a culmination of the first three phases of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Stakes were monumental and fans had flooded Reddit with innumerable theories. Ever since Iron Man came out in 2008, Marvel has succeeded in creating parallel literature in terms of theories, wishful story arcs of shipping unlikely characters together and multiple "what if" narratives. The studio was aware of the pressure and they delivered their promise of entertaining fans (time-travel glitches or not, everyone agreed that the film was sincerely made to live up to public emotion).
However, watching Endgame at the theatres is not where the marvel ends. Thousands of screens filled up with people coming in from every corner. Theatres ran 24x7 shows of the film with each one houseful.
That Endgame is a collective viewing experience was not unknown to most. After all, almost all Marvel films have been. If anything, the thrill of our hearts palpitating through war sequences together, worked as a catalyst for the astronomical ticket sales of the film.
For every geeky Marvel fan stepped into the movie hall knowing they were a small part in creating history (not just in terms of breaking box office records, but because they would witness the end, together). A deluge of merchandise sales occurred as orders for mugs, t-shirts, souvenirs, pins, badges and the like flooded online and retail stores. As per reports in Money Control, Souled Store (which claims to be largest licensee when it comes to official merchandise) witnessed a 500 percent spike in demand. Being one of the fastest growing market for Hollywood and American pop culture, India contributes to the fandom greatly.
Statistics aside, Endgame premieres led to hundreds of Instagram stories and Twitter updates on how people were waking up as early as 6 am to catch the first show. There were many who came in big groups to experience the phenomenon. Theatres flooded with people sporting Avengers, Captain America, Iron Man, Black Widow t-shirts — some fans may even have gone the extra length to carry a dummy of Cap's shield. Millions chose to sartorially (and otherwise) represent their love for the franchise.
Once inside, the experience was sure to transcend to another level. It was almost as if audiences' consciousnesses collated to form one large nervous synapse — laughing, bawling, writhing in pain, heaving and screaming together. The brief interval amidst the 182 minutes of run-time had Marvel aficionados dissect sub-plots minutely as the novices eagerly heard them out.
Gruff, grown men joined excited teenagers to (not-so-silently) sniffle tears while watching Black Widow (aka Natasha Romanoff) and Hawkeye fight it out for the ultimate sacrifice; Thanos' cold-blooded beatings on the Avengers was unanimously met with "Oh f**k no"s; Captain Marvel's swagger (while saving Iron Man and otherwise) was celebrated with loud, irreverent hoots and Iron Man's end was greeted with shocked gasps (probably due to unpreparedness) followed by failed attempts at stifling the spate of emotions that engulfed each and every viewer. People united in their bereavement; friends provided a shoulder to cry on and strangers exchanged sad, pregnant glances by the end of the film while everyone tried snapping out of the deafening silence.
Not only did Endgame provide a moment of bonding, it allowed the people to come together in their grief. Thanos' finger snap in Infinity War led to the world losing half of its population. The film even delved into the individual coping mechanisms that each Avenger adopted to deal with their loss — Thor transformed himself into Big Lebowski, always in a drunken stupor; Cap led therapy groups to discuss the grief of post-Snap loss; Natasha tirelessly continued her altruistic missions — and in the end, the audiences too were left to come to terms with an MCU sans Iron Man and Black Widow.
Cinema has always been a salve across ages and socio-political upheavals. Endgame proved to be that and much more, while thousands rooted to "avenge the fallen, whatever it takes." The record-breaking box office figures of the film are a mere pointer to the more profound connections formed.
This particular enthusiast almost wished she could emulate Thanos' snap to get rid of the numerous pre-bookings which caused a delay in her ticket bookings, only to realise what a bland, bleak world that would be. So bottom line, it's one for all and all for one.
P.S.: Marvel, we love you 3000 plus 1.
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