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As Its 11-Year, 22-Film Saga Comes To A Close, What's Next For Marvel?

With Meghna Chakrabarti

Marvel Comics’ favorite superhero group, the Avengers, is back. “Avengers: Endgame” closes out the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s 11-year, 22-film saga. We take a look at how Marvel has changed movie-making, why the MCU is so beloved by fans and what’s next for the universe.


Brandon Pope, reporter and anchor for WCIU television’s morning show, “The Jam,” who spent 59 hours watching Marvel movies ahead of the premiere of “Avengers: Endgame.” Board member for the Chicago chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists. (@BpopeTV)

Abraham Riesman, writer for New York Magazine, who is working on a biography of Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee, slated to come out in the fall of 2020. (@abrahamjoseph)

Ben Fritz, West Coast bureau chief and editor for The Wall Street Journal, where he covers the film industry and media companies. Author of the book “The Big Picture: The Fight for the Future of Movies.” (@benfritz)

From The Reading List

New York Magazine: “The 30 Best Superhero Movies Since Blade” — “In 1998, predicting a fiscally and artistically rich superhero-movie industry would’ve gotten you laughed out of your local comics shop. Hell, the idea of an ‘industry’ for movies about costumed heroes was ludicrous. No such thing had ever existed. Superhero movies had been few and far between throughout cinema history, and the then-most-recent superpowered flick had been 1997’s Batman and Robin — a movie so derided that George Clooney has spent 20 years apologizing for it. Then Wesley Snipes came along and changed everything. On August 21, 1998, Blade was released and audiences watched Snipes don the shades of the titular vampire-stabbing superhero (a longtime Marvel Comics staple). The picture earned more than $131 million worldwide. Quietly, a revolution began.

“In the nearly two decades since, successful caped-crusader movies started trickling, then flooding, into theaters. Now we live in a world where the global film economy is largely built on them.”

Chicago Sun-Times: “Mission Marvel: I survived 59-hour marathon, all 22 movies in storied franchise” — “Picture 220 ‘Avengers’ fans packed in a humid theater, blankets and pillows in tow, hygiene, health and sleep thrown completely out the window.

“This is a big moment in the world of movies, with the just-opened Marvel’s ‘Avengers: Endgame’ the closing chapter in the superhero saga likely to shatter records.

“AMC River East 21 was one of three theaters across the United States to host a 59-hour marathon viewing of all 22 movies that Marvel Studios has put out over the past 11 years in the storied franchise.

“I was crazy enough to give it a go. And my bosses at WCIU’s ‘The Jam’ morning show agreed to let me sit through the entire three-day event as long as I documented my experience along the way. And, oh, yeah, I couldn’t leave the theater building the entire time.”

NPR: “Mourning Has Broken Them: ‘Avengers: Endgame‘ ” — “Let’s start with a bit of service journalism: Going into Avengers: Endgame, one would be well-advised to manage both one’s expectations, and — given its three-hour-plus, intermissionless runtime — one’s fluid intake.

“The film deposits us, in medias res(igned), into a world sunk neck-deep in mourning, though it shows us only fleeting (albeit intriguing) glimpses of how that world’s non-spandex contingent is muddling through somehow. No, the film’s concerns are the same as ours: For more than a year now, we’ve wondered how the remaining Avengers (particularly founding parents Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, Hulk and Thor) would deal with the fact that 50 percent of the universe’s living beings vanished into visually striking dust, due entirely to our heroes’ collective failure to keep a certain giant purple mesomorphic despot from snapping his bedazzled fingers. (NOTE: This shattering cosmic event has been dubbed ‘The Snapture’ by one minor media semi-luminary who shall remain me. NOTE THE SECOND: Marvel has not officially signed on to said coinage. NOTE THE THIRD: But they totally should. NOTE THE FOURTH: Because, come on.)”

Forbes: “What Sets ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Apart From ‘Star Wars,’ ‘Black Panther’ And ‘Dark Knight’ (Box Office)” — “Avengers: Endgame earned $33 million on its fifth day of release, bringing its domestic total to $427 million, including $32 million in IMAX. It also earned a whopping $75 million on its eighth day (Wednesday thanks to time zone magic) in China, giving it three of the four biggest single-day grosses for any movie in China. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are holidays in China, so that partially explains the obscene numbers just after the opening weekend.

“That also brings its Chinese cume to $463 million in just over a week. That makes it, easily and by far, the biggest export earner ever in China. After this weekend, even presuming a standard second-weekend-plunge in China (big movies aren’t always so leggy over there), we could see a 12-day total of around $575 million. That alone would put it above everything save for Operation Red Sea ($579 million), The Wandering Earth ($699 million) and Wolf Warrior 2 ($854 million) among all movies that have ever played in China.

“Whether or not it can take a crack at $700 million, it is as much of a monster hit over there as it is over here. And yes, it may end up the second-biggest domestic grosser (behind The Force Awakens), the second-biggest Chinese grosser (behind Wolf Warrior 2) and presumably the second-biggest worldwide earner (behind Avatar). Yes, it could top all three of those respective films, but that’s still a slight longshot.”

Brian Hardzinski produced this segment for broadcast.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

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