Avengers: Endgame set an impossible precedent for the MCU, making it difficult for subsequent projects to match its box office success and critical acclaim. Iron Man and Captain America leaving after Avengers: Endgame weakened the MCU by removing its biggest characters and forcing the studio to quickly introduce new heroes. The quality and direction of Phase 4 suffered as it looked backward to Avengers: Endgame and focused on smaller characters, resulting in uneven stories and a loss of interest in the MCU.

After Avengers: Endgame, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has never been the same, and there are some aspects of the movie that explain how it broke the universe. The latest of Marvel Studios’ Avengers movies, 2019’s Avengers: Endgame, is the biggest superhero movie of all time. The MCU was at the height of its popularity during Phase 3, so when it came time to end the Infinity Saga, Marvel had to deliver, and the studio did so in spades. Avengers: Endgame was the perfect finale to the Infinity Saga, superbly wrapping up the more than 10 years of storytelling the MCU had set up to that point.

Spider-Man: Far From Home then served as the Infinity Saga’s final chapter.

Following Avengers: Endgame‘s ending, the MCU had to radically change. Marvel Studios was able to release more projects in Phase 4 than it had ever done before — Phase 4 had a mind-blowing 18 projects over just two years, almost matching the Infinity Saga’s 23 movies in an 11-year span — thanks to Disney+. While the addition of TV series and other formats to the MCU allowed Marvel to introduce more characters and give supporting heroes their time to shine, which movies would not have allowed, there was a clear quality drop from Avengers: Endgame to Phase 4’s movies and series. Sadly, Avengers: Endgame contributed directly to the MCU’s recent disarray.

Related: How To Watch the Marvel Movies In Order (By Release Date & In Order Of MCU Timeline Events)

Endgame Set An Impossible Precedent For The MCU

In terms of its box office, fan and critical acclaim, sprawling cast, stunning visuals, and breathtaking story, Avengers: Endgame set up the highest bar for the MCU to follow, and Marvel could not match what the movie accomplished. While a couple of the best MCU movies came after Avengers: Endgame — Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 — most Marvel offerings since the last Avengers movie were uneven. Avengers: Endgame was the culmination of the entire MCU up to that point, and its scope can only be matched when Avengers: Secret Wars ends the Multiverse Saga, which heavily impacted Phase 4.

As the culmination of 11 years of Marvel Studios movies, Avengers: Endgame felt more like an ending to the universe than a passing of the baton to the next chapter of the MCU. That made things difficult for the projects that followed the film, with Avengers: Endgame becoming a jumping-off point for several fans of the franchise. As Avengers: Endgame‘s scope could not be matched, the MCU needed a cool-off period, maybe a couple of years, to really prepare things backstage and come back strong with major characters like the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, but using smaller heroes as the faces of Phase 4 led to the opposite.

Endgame Killed 2 Of The MCU’s Biggest Brands

Avengers: Endgame also completely changed the MCU by getting rid of the franchise’s two most popular characters, Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man and Chris Evans’ Captain America. As the finale of the Infinity Saga, Avengers: Endgame needed to have the highest stakes of the franchise, so while it made sense to have Tony Stark sacrifice himself to save the entire universe, the choice to kill the man who started it all, as well as making the character that had been at the forefront of the MCU for some time, Steve Rogers, become an old man and retire from saving the world, led to the MCU being weakened in the aftermath.

While the best possible plan for Marvel to follow Avengers: Endgame would have been to develop existent heroes, wait a couple of years, and then come back strong with the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, and a new Avengers team, the loss of the franchise’s two faces made that impossible. After losing Captain America and Iron Man, Marvel had to run to introduce new characters, franchises, and set up the replacements for the heroes that had left. That need for a fast expansion of the franchise led to many projects coming out in a short span, with the quality of stories and CGI dipping, which hurt the MCU’s reputation.

The Wasted Phase 4 Looking Backwards To Endgame

The MCU’s Phase 4 had a lot of problems, with some of the worst-rated projects in the entire franchise coming during the two years of Phase 4. Going from Avengers: Endgame, which focused on the MCU’s most popular heroes and brought pretty much every character together for the movie’s final battle, to setting up smaller characters led to a loss of interest in the MCU. It did not help that Marvel Studios started to release projects at an unprecedented pace, which resulted in uneven stories, rushed character arcs, and poor CGI on several projects.

Adding to the problem was that, of the many MCU projects released during Phase 4, several dealt with the fallout of Thanos in some form. With the dwindling quality of the Phase 4 movies and series, it was bad that they kept pointing back at Avengers: Endgame and the time the MCU was at its best, as it cast a shadow around the new entries in the shared universe. While a couple of projects could have touched on the fallout of Thanos’ actions, Phase 4 should have set a clear path for the MCU to move forward, with characters meeting and a new Avengers team assembling.

Instead, the MCU has felt aimless since Avengers: Endgame, with Marvel now considering bringing back the original Avengers cast for a new movie in an effort to bounce back from Phase 4’s woes. Currently, the next Avengers movie to follow 2019’s Avengers: Endgame is 2026’s Avengers: The Kang Dynasty. That major gap helps explain why the MCU has felt aimless during most of the Multiverse Saga so far, as Phase 4 and Phase 5 needed an Avengers film to tie the new characters and the universe together.

Endgame Made Marvel’s Disney+ Model A Necessity

Avengers: Endgame‘s final battle was one of the most exciting moments in the MCU, bringing together nearly all the universe’s heroes to go up against Thanos and his army. Avengers: Endgame tried to give every character their time to shine, but as there were dozens, there was only so much the film could do. That led to Marvel leaning heavily into Disney+ after the streaming service debuted, as the series allowed the MCU to flesh out the stories of characters that the studio would not get the chance to explore in the movies.

However, that ended up backfiring, with the more recent shows seeing a viewership drop and the MCU having so much going on that the shows have started to feel like homework. In the end, Avengers: Endgame was so successful that it set too high a bar for the MCU to follow, leading to Marvel’s recent woes. With the future debuts of the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, as well as a possible MCU reboot after Avengers: Secret Wars, Marvel Studios can go back to the highs that the MCU experienced with Avengers: Endgame.

Key Release Dates

The Marvels

Deadpool 3

Captain America: Brave New World

Marvel’s Thunderbolts

Blade (2025)

Marvel’s Fantastic Four

Avengers: The Kang Dynasty

Avengers: Secret Wars

 The MCU is very different after Avengers: Endgame.  Read More