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By now, fans have arrived at the general consensus that when it comes to concluding long-running sagas, Avengers: Endgame did a much better job wrapping up 11 years of movies than The Rise of Skywalker did 42 years. It’s there in the box-office: Endgame is the biggest worldwide hit of all time, while Rise was the least financially successful of the sequel trilogy. 

However, Marvel fans are also asserting that Endgame outdid Skywalker in one particular area: fanservice. They argue that the big final battles are very similar to each other, but Endgame had better references for the fans. 

What is fanservice?

The cast of 'Avengers: Endgame'
The cast of ‘Avengers: Endgame’ | Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney

To understand what fans are getting at, it’s important to understand what “fan service’ means, since that term has only been used in recent years. According to Wikipedia, the term originated in the anime community and originally meant to refer to something sexual in nature. If an anime cartoon showed a character being scantily clad, for instance, that was “fan service.”  It was a way of saying “give the fans what they want.” 

In more recent years, the term has broadened to be less specifically sexual. Fan service has come to mean any little detail or reference included specifically for the fans’ benefit. In this context, fans usually mean those who are truly passionate about a subject, rather than people who are more casual in their appreciation. In other words, fans will get the bits of fan service, while they go over other viewers’ heads.

One example of this was in Solo: A Star Wars Story,  which included a blink-and-you miss it cameo from two characters who had been featured in the famous cantina scene of the original Star Wars.

More casual fans may or may not recognize these characters as the two who accosted Luke at the bar. Hardcore fans can tell you their names are Ponda Baba and Colonel Evazan, as this Polygon piece explains. 

Why do people like ‘Endgame’s’ fan service better?

A post on Reddit points out that the endings of Endgame and Rise of Skywalker are very similar. Such large battles tend to be how long stories conclude, whether it’s Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings. Most franchise movies conclude with some kind of show-stopping fight. 

However, fans say that Endgame and Rise of Skywalker stand out in that they have different kinds of fan service: earned and unearned. The endings of Endgame and Skywalker both centered around the return of heroes, some of whom only big fans would recognize but as one fan on Reddit put it:

“Except in Endgame the return of the heroes was earned because of the effort of the rest of the movie to go back in time for the stones. In RoS, it was completely unearned because we’d been told that the rest of the universe didn’t want to join the resistance and that they were alone. And they (arrive) right when the good guys are about to lose, everyone shows up because they changed their minds.”

Another fan added, “Or even more basic: in Endgame I at least knew who everyone is.” 

Where do the two big Disney franchises stand?

Although Marvel fans might be able to claim fan service victory, in some ways, both franchises are in uncertain places. Although the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the titan of Hollywood franchises, it faces moving forward with characters that are less well known to the general public, such as The Eternals and Shang-Chi. No one seems absolutely certain what Star Wars movie will come next, with only season 2 of The Mandalorian being a sure thing.

But in another way, both franchises face a different kind of peril: The coronavirus. The worldwide pandemic has shut down all ongoing Marvel productions, including its Disney+ shows and Shang-Chi. Black Widow was delayed indefinitely.

While the virus hasn’t affected Star Wars directly, it’s possible that the slowdown of Marvel could prompt Star Wars to put out Mandalorian season 2 earlier than planned. This is only speculation, but the world has certainly prompted its populace to deal with the unexpected, whether its in health or entertainment.