Since 2007, there have been twenty-one Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies. They follow the lives of various superheroes, either on their own or as part of a team. Kevin Feige has been a producer on every single one of them, and together, they have grossed over $18.4bn at the global box office. This makes it the highest-grossing movie franchise of all time.
There have been so many MCU movies that they have been split into three phases, each of which has more or less concluded with an Avengers movie. Together they are, rather grandly, known as The Infinity Saga. Is this because their power knows no bounds, because they will never cease to entertain us, or because it is the series that will never end? It’s hard to tell.
Avengers: Endgame is going to be the final movie in phase three of the saga, and it will be the longest one yet. At over three hours long, maybe this is going to be the movie that lives up to the saga’s name – the one that feels like it lasts forever.
How long is three hours?
Three hours is enough time for two soccer games, to listen to the whole of Jimi Hendrix’s discography, or for Usain Bolt to run his 100m over 1,127 times.
But it is also the length of time of several other very good movies.
Some movies are so long because they need to be.
There are some movies that we watch because we should. We know that they are top quality movies, and we want to have watched them, but it takes several attempts to actually sit down and watch such a worthy movie.
Movies that come into this category are Schindler’s List, The Green Mile, and Gandhi. Sure they are all incredible movies, and they all tell important stories, but would you want to watch them again? Maybe not.
Sometimes, it is three hours long but we still don’t want it to end.
Some movies are stand-alone stories that have such huge story-lines they need to be longer, and that is fine by us. It would have done the characters an injustice to give the plot less time to develop in Blue is the Warmest Colour or The Deer Hunter.
Would we have wanted less time watching Leonardo di Caprio’s fall from grace in The Wolf of Wall Street, or would we have wanted them to cut some of Rose and Jack’s eternally moving love-story in Titanic? I don’t think so.
Occasionally, even three hours isn’t enough.
Then there are some movies that have such epic stories they could never fit into a shorter time. In fact, if they were being produced now, they would probably be split into more movies, if not a TV series.
And now we can welcome The Avengers into that hallowed hall of fame.
This is the fourth film in The Avengers series.
Watching The Avengers alone, without following each individual character, will take over ten hours after the release of Avengers: Endgame, which is longer than either The Godfather or The Lord of the Rings!
It’s fair to say that anyone who is still watching the series now (and that would be millions of people), is pretty committed to the franchise. It’s unlikely that people will be put off by the running time.
The back-story leading up to this movie is pretty huge.
For anyone who wants to catch-up before the release of Avengers: Endgame on April 25, or for anyone who thinks they need a refresher on the storylines of each character, there’s a lot of work to do.
To watch all 21 MCU movies, you will need to sit through over 43 hours of superhero action to be ready in time.
If you’re also trying to get through Game of Thrones before the new series, which is out a week and a half before the Avengers movie, you’re going to struggle to leave the house!
It was already complicated before it began.
Usually, in a movie, the beginning is for introducing new characters, the middle watches them develop, and the end ties it all up. That’s not how it works with The Avengers.
Avengers Assemble was already bringing together Iron Man, Hulk, Thor and Captain America. If you weren’t on top of it then, you were going to struggle to work it all out.
There was a brief opportunity to catch-up.
Avengers: Age of Ultron was a fairly similar cast, although there were a few different bad guys and a few more humans defending their Earth.
But although it was already the eleventh in the MCU saga, it was somewhat more manageable. We were mostly building on the characters we already knew from the last Avengers movie.
That’s when it started to get out of hand…
Avengers: Infinity War came six years after the first movie, and was the nineteenth in the MCU Infinity Saga.
This movie welcomed characters from Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Spiderman, and The Guardians of the Galaxy movies. That is a lot of new characters to take in, even if you have seen all of the other movies!
It’s no wonder it’s going to be three hours long…
Now, there are going to be even more characters added as Ant-Man and The Wasp join the gang, along with the newest (and best) superhero, Captain Marvel.
There will be over twenty famous faces for you to spot as you try to work out who each character is, which superhero’s back-story they belong to, and what is going on in their own storyline in this movie.
It might be easier to talk about who’s not going to be in this movie.
Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be a list of spoilers about who has or hasn’t made it from the other movies (although if you haven’t caught-up yet, you might want to get a wriggle on). No, this is about the superheroes that aren’t a part of MCU.
Essentially, don’t expect to see anyone from DC Comics. This means no Batman, no Superman, no Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, Shazam, Cat Woman, or anyone from Suicide Squad.
It also won’t have anyone from the X-Men series, including Deadpool.
What do we know about the latest Avengers movie?
The story for this finale has been kept fairly under-wraps. Even the trailer has remained vague, although that’s easier to do when you have more than a dozen main characters to showcase in an exciting, two-minute advert.
The main thing that people are talking about is the Avengers’ new team suits, which seem to be all white. It is believed that these suits could be part of a plot-line that requires time travel (as suggested by Ant-Man and The Wasp). These suits could help them jump into the Quantum Realm.
Or it could just be a business plan so that a whole host of new merchandise can be sold. It depends on how cynical you are.
It looks like MCU is slowly starting to be slightly more diverse.
Considering it’s such a big cast, it’s taking a while for the movie to not be filled only with white, male faces. All four of the main superheroes fit this category, and the only outliers were Samuel L. Jackson’s character, Fury, or Scarlett Johansson’s lycra-wearing character, Black Widow. Until the men start wearing sexy lycra costumes too, this will not count as diversity.
But with the addition of Captain Marvel, alongside the heroes from Guardians of the Galaxy and Black Panther, the new Avengers movie should be slightly more diverse. Which is clearly a much better idea if they want to appeal to anyone in the world beyond white men, who despite their representation in positions of power, do not actually represent the majority of the world’s potential viewers.
Just because it’s called Endgame doesn’t mean that it is the end.
This Avengers movie will mark the end of the third phase of The Infinity Saga, but it is not the end for all the superheroes in the MCU. Spiderman: Homecoming has already been scheduled for July later this year, and Captain Marvel does not look like it’s going to be a stand-alone movie.
However, maybe this will mark the end for some of our favourite superheroes, or at least for these incarnations with these particular actors.
Perhaps future versions will provide a more diverse picture of the world of superheroes.
Maybe three hours isn’t long enough?
We’ve already watched three movies for each of Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America, as well as three Avengers movies before this. Surely they won’t be able to wrap things up sufficiently in one movie between them all, especially with the addition of all our other favourite heroes?
Whatever happens in this final movie, you can be sure that it’s going to have some battles of epic proportions, and enough up-lifting speeches and moments to prepare you for any future challenge. Just make sure you don’t drink anything for a couple of hours before you go in…