Nearly two years before the MCU made its impressive comeback with Phase 4 in theaters and on Disney+, the franchise was in the midst of its most successful year to date financially and critically. Of course, much of this had to do with the debut of arguably the biggest comic book movie of all time in Avengers: Endgame.
Serving as the culmination of 21 prior stories dating back to 2008, Endgame blew the MCU fandom away with an emotionally thrilling ending to the Infinity Saga. Boasting nearly each seen throughout the various solo franchises, the movie delivered on everything Marvel Studios had built up to over the years, with the heroes taking down the Mad Titan Thanos and his interdimensional army.
Of course, Endgame didn't only deliver on the story front, as it also became one of the biggest financial successes in history with a nearly $2.8 billion return at the global box office. That number turned out to be far beyond anything even Marvel itself expected, as the studio's president recently admitted in an interview.
"Just One More Dollar Than Infinity War"
In an excerpt from The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige spoke about the expectations behind the release of 2019's Avengers: Endgame. Specifically, Feige shared his hope that fans would simply go out to see this blockbuster movie.
Although Feige hoped Endgame would be bigger than Avengers: Infinity War, all he wanted was for the sequel to make "a dollar" more than its 2018 predecessor. He even admitted being afraid that Marvel had built up to such a big "grand finale" that nobody would see upon its release:
“My hope, at that point, was ‘Just make a dollar more than Infinity War so it can be bigger.’ Because my biggest fear of the past five years was throwing a grand finale and nobody coming and nobody caring, which can happen to franchises."
When Endgame destroyed box office records on its opening weekend in late April, Feige simply felt "emotionally overwhelmed" at just how much of a phenomenon it was worldwide. After putting in so much work to make the MCU everything it had become, Marvel's head executive seemed relieved and thrilled that fans responded so fervently to the culmination event:
“To exceed the expectations by such an enormous amount - I got a little emotionally overwhelmed in my house that morning. Just at how the world had responded to this thing that we'd worked so hard on for the past five years - not to mention the whole MCU for ten-plus years - but particularly Endgame.”
The MCU Reaching Its Endgame With Avengers: Endgame
Despite being the box-office juggernaut that the MCU has since its inception, Avengers: Endgame took the franchise's success to unprecedented levels.
Avengers: Infinity War became the studio's biggest success story to date by earning more than $2 billion at the global box office, peaking as the fourth-highest grossing movie of all time in 2018. Endgame almost hit that number easily, crossing $1 billion in its opening weekend alone before becoming the biggest movie in history financially, at least before an Avatar re-release pushed it back to second place.
Feige's emotions were clearly warranted with each milestone that Endgame passed; those accomplishments seemed to rack up by the day once the movie made its way to theaters. This came as a testament to the work put in not only with the Infinity Saga as a whole, but also with Endgame's marketing campaign, which didn't even reveal the film's title until the first trailer debuted in December 2018.
While it will still be some time until Avengers 5 joins the MCU, Endgame continues to make its mark on both the franchise's past and future. Even with numerous attempts to come for its crown, including future MCU outings like Spider-Man: No Way Home, the fourth Avengers film will be the standard for the superhero movie genre for the foreseeable future.
Avengers: Endgame is available to stream on Disney+.