2019 will bring "The End" of several major Hollywood franchises... if you believe the marketing. Next year's film slate is a massive one that features many of the biggest franchises delivering tentpole blockbusters, including Marvel Studios, Star Wars, and even James Bond. Not just regular entries, though, these all are promising endings in one form or another, but it's simply untrue that any of these movies are really "The End" of their franchises.
The year 2019 itself could be one of the culprits for this glut of fatalistic movie marketing. It's the last year of a tumultuous decade (but a record-setting one for Hollywood) and it's natural to want to signal some sort of conclusion, especially for long-running film series on the cusp of change. "Change" is really the keyword here. Each one of the blockbusters hyping up the end of their wildly successful series is merely paying lip service to the idea that a culmination is coming. While some sort of conclusion indeed will be the case in some fashion for each franchise, the series themselves are blatantly set to continue in a new or different way.
One thing that's been evident in our current age of shared universes, reboots, and never-ending film series is that, to quote one of the last lines of Zack Snyder's Watchmen (which is about to be reimagined as an HBO TV series little over a decade after it was in theaters), "Nothing ever ends." Nor is marketing "The End" necessarily a bad idea, it's simply a tactic that's a little disingenuous. With this in mind, let's look at 2019's blockbuster movies promising that The End is coming for their franchise, even though we all know better.
- This Page: Disney's Biggest Franchises Promising "The End"
- Page 2: "The End" of Bond and X-Men... For Now
Avengers 4 Is The End Of The MCU... Until It Isn't
Just earlier this year, Avengers: Infinity War hyped itself as the end of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it, but even with the universal death caused by Thanos, it didn't provide conclusion as much as it set up the inevitable Avengers 4, as well as the prequel and origin story of Captain Marvel, both due in 2019. Now, Avengers 4 is being established as the end, and it could be, in a way, since some of the longest-serving actors in the MCU are expected to leave the franchise (though a complete departure may also not hold for some actors; for instance, Scarlett Johansson will likely star in a Black Widow prequel film even if Natasha Romanoff's present story ends in her death). So, yes, Avengers 4 does mark the conclusion of Phase 3 and the 22-cycle film series of the MCU so far.
But it also sets up a new future. Obviously, there'll be more movies, but they're going to still be connected to the story we've just finished. Avengers 4 will undoubtedly undo the deaths Thanos caused in Infinity War, bringing back full roster of heroes to immediately open the door for Phase 4. Indeed, next up are movies linked to pre-existing heroes: Spider-Man: Far From Home, the web-slinger's sequel, is the only officially dated MCU film post-Avengers 4 but Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is inevitable, James Gunn rehiring or no.
The secrecy of their upcoming film slate is a different tack for Marvel Studios, which had been known for announcing movies many years in advance. However, just because they are hush about what's coming next doesn't mean Marvel doesn't have lots of movies in development (in addition to those discussed, there's expected to be The Eternals, and very likely Avengers 5). The MCU may look a bit different, but it's definitely not over.
Related: Everything We Know About MCU Phase 4
Hyping up "endings" is nothing new for Marvel. The Avengers was the culmination of Phase 1 back in 2012, Captain America: Civil War was the end of the Avengers as they had been, and Avengers: Infinity War was repeatedly sold as a "culmination". These are all transient payoffs. Of course, fans don't really mind because Marvel's movies are beloved, critically-acclaimed box office smashes. Audiences happily play along with Marvel because no matter what, they deliver solid stories featuring characters audiences have come to love.
Star Wars 9 Is The End... From A Certain Point Of View
Disney's other golden goose is Star Wars. Despite the sting of Solo: A Star Wars Story's disappointing box office performance and the ongoing backlash from Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Lucasfilm has an ace in the hole for Star Wars 9: per the casting announcement, it's the "final installment" in the Skywalker saga, which has been the primary focus of the movie franchise since 1977. No doubt this will be a key hook throughout the marketing, with the studio no doubt declaring "Every Saga Has An End". It's pop culture history.
Of course, however Episode IX concludes the Darth Vader/Luke Skywalker/Kylo Ren family circle (likely with the last appearances of Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher), it by no means marks the end of Star Wars itself. Quite the opposite, in fact. The Skywalker saga is now only one branch of Star Wars; when that's over, the franchise will begin diversifying across multiple announced film and television projects. Rian Johnson was given his own new film trilogy to oversee, as were David Benioff and Dan Weiss, the creators of Game of Thrones, so that's two new Star Wars movie series in the works, not counting any future spinoffs, like the rumored Boba Fett film to be directed by Logan's James Mangold and the ever-wished-for Obi-Wan Kenobi film that would hopefully star Ewan MacGregor. In addition, Episode IX may not even be the end of the current trilogy's heroes Rey, Finn, and Poe Dameron; Lucasfilm has talked of "plans" for those characters to continue in some form after Star Wars 9. Star Wars will not only be alive and well at the movies in the 2020s but also on television, with Star Wars: The Clone Wars set to return and the new live-action series by Jon Favreau also in the works.
As with Marvel, there's precedent for this. In fact, the Star Wars franchise helped pioneer movie trilogies and their endings; Return of the Jedi concluded the first trilogy in 1983 and Revenge of the Sith did the same for the prequel trilogy (and then-six-movie saga) in 2005. Episode IX may be the end of the current trilogy and of the nine-film Skywalker saga, but what it really marks is the beginning of a new kind of cross-pollination of Star Wars that fans have never quite seen before. At this point, Star Wars will probably never really end.
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019) release date: Jun 07, 2019
- James Bond 25 (2020) release date: Apr 08, 2020
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019
- Toy Story 4 (2019) release date: Jun 21, 2019
- How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019) release date: Feb 22, 2019
- Terminator: Dark Fate (2019) release date: Nov 01, 2019
- Glass (2019) release date: Jan 18, 2019