The Only Reason ‘Avengers: Endgame’ May Prove Unsurpassable in the Superhero Space

Avengers: Endgame has been hailed as the peak of the superhero genre — bringing Tony Stark and Steve Rogers’ character arcs to satisfying conclusions. Stark entirely abandoned his selfish egomaniac persona in favor of the selfless savior he’s always been; Steve Rogers relinquished Cap’s mantle, as he handed the shield to a worthy successor, Falcon.

From the references to earlier movies to relationships solidified through sacrifice – Natasha and Clint’s – Endgame was a cinematic masterpiece, opening to critical adulation and currently boasting a 94% on Rotten Tomatoes

Avengers: Endgame
‘Avengers: Endgame’ World Premiere | Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney

Endgame’s success is, in no small part, due to its narrative complexity, emotionally resonant development, stellar acting, entertaining dialogue, and exciting action sequences. However, none of these factors constitute what makes the film “unsurpassable.” 

Many have gone onto claim that the 22-film buildup will never be beat, but this conclusion, in and of itself, cannot be argued on the basis of creative ingenuity alone. Meaning, such an argument boils down to a cognitive bias, as opposed to actual filmic superiority. 

As a movie, ‘Avengers: Endgame’ can, and likely will be, surpassed

Arguing that another film, within the superhero space, will never rival Avengers: Endgame is preposterous from an objective point of view only. With decades of films to come, advancements in technology on the horizon, and creative filmmakers born every day, someone will envision a saga to rival Endgame. 

Someone will envision a movie with a more complex narrative, a more profound, introspective stance, and more relevant social contexts. The film will be hailed as a masterpiece, becoming what Get Out is to horror, and so on and so forth. However, we are not arguing about Endgame’s greatness. Endgame, as a movie with a set of characters and underlying themes, is not the unbeatable creation. Endgame will prove unsurpassable as long as it’s the movie all other superhero films are compared back to.

Our tendency to compare superhero movies back to ‘Avengers: Endgame’ will provide the film with an iconic impermanence; the idea of the movie becomes unbeatable

As long as all superhero movies are compared back to Endgame, the movie — whether or not it remains the strongest – will remain the “best.” If you are the comparative base, if you are the representation of supremacy within a given category, you take on that mantle of superiority, sitting atop the totem pole — disconnected from the actual context for your greatness. 

While many people think of Leonardo Da Vinci when asked to name the greatest Renaissance artist, how many people can name more than a few of his most popular works?  Da Vinci is the epitome of the category; he is the representation of the Renaissance— absent of his specific works — for history has made him such. History has granted the artist with impermanent icon status. And we use him as a comparative base for all others falling into his category. For another example, think Mother Teresa; you have a concept for the saint, but how many specific deeds can you recall?

The more we continue to use Endgame as a comparative base for all superhero movies, the further we will cement its iconic status; however, the less our actual grasp on what happens in the movie will matter, for just as we forget DaVinci’s specific paintings, we will forget Endgame’s specific scenes, hailing it as the best out of sheer habit. A habit that may have started with objective greatness yet became the very example of an ingrained subjective bias.