We've asked ourselves what's in a name for hundreds of years. What William Shakespeare didn't see coming, though, was how much we would dissect the title of the biggest crossover film of all time. And while Avengers: Endgame should still be as epic and satisfying by any other name, the subtitle selected by Marvel Studios leaves a lot to be desired.
Why Was Endgame Chosen?
It would seem the title was taken directly from Infinity War, and intended as a natural progression of the story. However, by picking up on Doctor Strange's line, "We're in the end game, now," it makes the entire film, the final installment of Phase Three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a little too on the nose.
Of course, what Strange referred to was the one future in which he saw the heroes defeat Thanos. He knew that by giving into the Mad Titan's demand, and handing over the Time Stone, he was setting up a scenario in which the good guys somehow win. Anyone who paid attention to Infinity War knows that, so by making Endgame the title of the sequel, it becomes both obvious and a letdown.
It's also not particularly original. If the title sounds familiar, it's because "Endgame" has been used to death in genre television. The X-Files, Alias, Babylon 5, Stargate SG-1 and Star Trek: Voyager all have "Endgame" episodes. In more recent years, the series finales of Young Justice, Generator Rex and Transformers: Animated were also titled "Endgame."
It's then worth asking why Marvel put fans through all of this. Why not announce the title earlier, like after the closing credits of Infinity War? Seeing something like "the Avengers will return in ... Endgame" would have sparked a different response. Instead, we've endured months of speculation, fan theories and misdirection, just so we could arrive at the most obvious answer imaginable.
"Endgame" sounds as if Tom Cruise is launching an attack on a spy network, or Sylvester Stallone is locked in a gun battle with Dolph Lundgren, or Christopher Lambert is an immortal warrior (oh wait, that's Highlander: Endgame). It doesn't sound like the culmination of the first decade of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Choosing a Title Is Hard ... Probably
Perhaps the only title more obvious than Avengers: Endgame would have been "Avengers: The End," but at least that feels more ominous. Dubbing the movie "Endgame" wastes all the energy of a title like Infinity War without replacing it with anything useful. The first trailer felt somber, but the title doesn't match; it feels hollow.
To be fair, it's actually difficult to name a film. You have to use a title that tells the audience what the film is about, but also conjures the right emotions. The Empire Strikes Back works because, although it is a bit self-referential, it still accurately conveys what happens in the movie: The good guys get their asses kicked. Ex Machina means "from machine," but the movie uses the Latin title to underscore the philosophical themes within.
The Harry Potter film series had it easy when it came to adapting Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Splitting it in two and just calling it Part One and Part Two was certainly lazy, but at least it was based on an existing work. Marvel was not so lucky, which is why Infinity War Part One and Part Two was never really going to happen.
But imagine a world where some of the best final chapters in movie history were named as poorly as "Endgame." Instead of Return of the Jedi, we would have something as obvious as "A New Beginning." How about "Face of Doom" in place of Return of the King?
Of course, you don't want to call Avengers 4 "Thanos' Revenge" and make it sound as fleeting as, say, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull or Age of Ultron. Endgame was the easy choice, and it was the safe choice, but it wasn't the best choice. While we have no idea what was discussed internally, we can suggest some titles that would have been preferable.