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The Marvel Cinematic Universe is celebrating over a decade of filmmaking, while also showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Throughout the MCU's long tenure in theaters, the studio has shown an impressive attention to detail, crafting a narrative that connects through years, franchises, and devastating twists.
Avengers: Infinity War brought the most horrifying plot twist yet, as Thanos succeeded and was able to wipe out half of the galaxy with the snap of a finger. The contents of the next Avengers movie a complete mystery, although Endgame recently revealed its title and first trailer-- confirming a popular theory that Doctor Strange had teased the title before the battle on Titan. Marvel studios Kevin Feige recently revealed when this plan was formulated, saying:
It was in place before we started developing the movie. Or just as we were developing it. So Doctor Strange says that line because we knew it was the title.
Once again, Marvel Studios shows how serialized storytelling is done. While the title of Avengers: Endgame was left ambiguous for a number of months after Infinity War arrived in theaters, Marvel Studios and The Russo Brothers knew exactly what they were doing. Endgame was explicitly uttered by Doctor Strange before the Avengers and Guardians teamed up against Thanos, allowing for smart fans to be privy to the title before it was announced.
And the fandom did pick it up, as Endgame became one of the most popular theories surrounding the film's title. Doctor Strange's dialogue was certainly part of that, but it turn out that the phrase "endgame" was used a handful of times throughout the last 10 years of Marvel movies. While it's unlikely that The Russo Brothers were doing a deep dive through the Marvel catalogue to find every instance of someone saying it, Endgame is definitely snappy, and helps keep anticipation high for the upcoming blockbuster.
Overall, Doctor Strange's actions in the conflict with Thanos still remain to be explained, as the Sorcerer Supreme knew more than he revealed to his Marvel allies. Before Thanos arrived on Titan for his epic action sequence, Doctor Strange uses the Time Stone to preview millions of ways the conflict with Thanos could end. Unfortunately, there is only one scenario where the good guys win-- although Benedict Cumberbatch's magical hero doesn't explain exactly what it would take for the big purple guy to fall.
Doctor Strange's actions got all the more mysterious after the battle on Titan turned south. Thanos managed to break out of Mantis' control, and ended up stabbing Iron Man through the chest during the conflict. In order to save Tony Stark, Strange hands over the Time Stone to Jos Brolin's villainous character, despite Tony's protestation. This choice was never explained, although fans believe it has something to do with Tony's role in Endgame.
Of course, the events of Avengers: Endgame are a complete mystery, as Marvel Studios has been keeping its cards close to the chest regarding the highly anticipated blockbuster. The Russo Brothers were tasked with completing the narrative of the MCU as we know it, and crafting another massive ensemble project in the wake of Thanos' snap. And the first trailer teased a whole new world.
Endgame's trailer and title were released just weeks ago, and Marvel fans were finally treated to the first glimpse of life after Infinity War. Thanos' snap, which has been named The Decimation, has changed the world as we knew it, wiping out half of all life on the galaxy. The devastation is palpable in the brief clips, which show the surviving Avengers attempting to rebuild and recover from the horrifying attack. But just how the Avengers intend on taking on the Mad Titan again is a total mystery.
It should be especially fascinating to see how Doctor Strange and the rest of the dusted heroes factor into Avengers: Endgame's story. Obviously they ceased to be, so it'll take a few very specific macguffins to bring characters like Strange, Spider-Man, and Black Panther back into the narrative. One popular theory is time travel, therefore allowing dusted characters to appear through scenes we'd already seen in the past.
Of course, Marvel fans assume that the dusted characters will be revived in one way or another during the course of Endgame. Most of the newer heroes were destroyed during The Decimation, despite their franchises just taking off. For instance, Spider-Man: Far From Home is the first blockbuster in the next phase of movies, so his impending resurrection seems inevitable. The same goes for Black Panther and Doctor Strange, who have only gotten one solo movie thus far.
While the first trailer for Avengers: Endgame finally arrived, it was purposefully ambiguous. There were no action sequences, but just brief glances at the characters who survived Thanos' snap of death. It looks like the upcoming blockbuster will pick up shortly after Thanos managed to get the Mind Stone, and snap his fingers to commit mass murder. Tony Stark is trapped in space with Nebula, while Captain America and Black Widow are still attempting to form up and take another battle to the Mad Titan.
There's also the possibility that the first trailer for Avengers: Endgame is purposefully trying to throw the fans off the trail of the true story. Kevin Feige recently revealed that the marketing material for the upcoming movie will reportedly come from its first 15 minutes, meaning that Marvel Studios will be keeping the vast majority of the film a total mystery. While this provides its own challenges regarding trailers and TV spots, the anticipation for Endgame is likely enough to fill seats and make box office gold.
Answers will come Avengers: Endgame hits theaters on April 26th 2019, hopefully including the master plan and details behind Doctor Strange's decision to hand the Time Stone to Thanos. With many of the OG Avengers coming to the end of their contract, smart money says the newer talent like Benedict Cumberbatch's character will become more important in Phase Four. In the meantime, check out CinemaBlend's 2019 release list to plan your trips to the movies in the New Year.