Avengers: The heroism of humanity in Endgame’s trailers


While many superhero movie marketing tends to lead with big action sequences, explosions, and stunning visual effects, the simple brutality of Avengers: Endgame’s trailers creates an effective emotional pull, painting the heroes with an aching humanity that has been the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s greatest strength.

At first glance, the two Avengers: Endgame trailers released might seem too quiet to be the culmination of a decade’s worth of the best superhero films to have ever graced screens. But though they lack the normal operatic strokes of action movie trailers, these trailers reflect precisely what has made the Marvel Cinematic Universe so great.

A tear streaming down Steve Roger’s face, Captain America in therapy.

A wistful Tony Stark baring his heart to a broken suit with his last breaths.

Thor slumped over himself, staring out into nothing.

Three minutes of brutally elegant footage, countless broken hearts.

One of the biggest critiques of superhero movies has been that they are depthless, paint by number visions of macho men slinging their fists and saving the world from cartoonish villains; not enough story, not enough character, not enough of anything except heavy handed action sequences and too tight pleather suits. Avengers star Zoe Saldana has even gone on the record saying that in the movie industry itself, these movies are looked down upon as subpar.

But the Marvel Cinematic Universe has never fallen into those traps, and the Endgame trailers are a perfect example of how the world has skillfully created a new standard of superhero. Because in the MCU, it is never just about saving the world from some grandiose villain, whom unquestionably have been variable in quality, but always about the heroes fighting, truly, themselves, the demons they’ve created, and the pasts that haunt them, the flaws in their own designs. Beneath the first layer of stunts and action, there is always a beating heart, a depth and a soul.

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The biggest Avengers trilogies, Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor, might seem all about the muscles or the gadgets from a distance, but when boiled down are really about Tony Stark’s fight up from his downward spiral, about Steve Roger’s desires to be find a home, and about Thor’s growth from child to King. The characters in these movies are lost, they hurt and are hurt, they can be broken, and they are incredible vulnerable despite their powers and gifts, and it is this, this enticing humanity, which makes them feel truly heroic, which makes every single Marvel movie more than just another superhero movie.

It may seem like a small thing to let Captain America cry in a movie trailer, to let him feel the anguish of the losses that those who have seen every single movie he’s appeared in weigh heavy on his shoulders, to let him feel the fourth, or is it fifth? time he’s watched his best friend slip through his fingers, to watch him process the result of not being enough to protect the world that he loves, to watch so many things exist in one split second. So maybe it’s no small thing after all, because another hero might not be nuanced enough to feel so much, might not be allowed to show that feeling if he did, might not have to experience the aftermath of loss at all, because loss would never be an option. One split second, one emotional connection, and the audience is drawn in.

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These connections, every single one from every single scene, are the heartbeats of the Marvel Universe, and the Endgame trailers respect that, illuminate it, and strike where it hurts the most. They show, in their quiet scenes of barren emptiness, of aftermath, despair, and loss, that the most beautiful thing about these movies has always been the humanity of their heroes.