WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Avengers: Endgame, in theaters now.
Avengers: Endgame continues to break box office records around the world, the film itself signifying the end of an era for Marvel Studios. The story arcs for three founding members of the Avengers, 22 movies and 11 years in the making, reach their decisive ends by the end of the film as the heroes of the MCU take on Thanos and his forces in an epic rematch. It would, therefore, be a wise move for Marvel Studios to drop the Avengers branding altogether as it moves forward into the fourth phase of its shared cinematic universe.
Both Black Widow and Iron Man die over the course of Endgame either acquiring Infinity Stones or using them to reverse the Mad Titan's Avengers: Infinity War victory. Steve Rogers also sets out to return the Infinity Stones and Mjolnir to their proper time periods, deciding to venture further back in the past upon completion of his time-traveling mission and live out his life with Peggy Carter. Steve passes on the mantle of Captain America to Sam Wilson, as he is now physically well over 100 years old.
The Avengers in the comics have enjoyed a rotating roster since their creation in the 1960s, but this changing of the guard may not be as widely embraced by moviegoing audiences. The MCU has introduced a new generation of superheroes, including Captain Marvel, Black Panther, Spider-Man and Doctor Strange, while more established heroes like Falcon are set to take on different roles. Similarly, other founding Avengers, including Thor, the Hulk and Hawkeye, are still alive and well in the MCU. However, it's hard to imagine a cinematic incarnation of the team without half of its original lineup.
The team's future faces additional hurdles beyond the loss of three founding members. Tony Stark had been the Avengers' chief benefactor, both in regards to financing and technological advances. While Stark Industries will likely continue to exist in the MCU without Tony, this is a serious blow to the team, especially with Avengers headquarters in upstate New York completely obliterated by Thanos. Steve Rogers is still alive and present by the end of Endgame, but the Star-Spangled Avenger is likely retired from his superhero career for good, the leadership and moral compass of the team gone with him.
It would help underscore Endgame's feeling of finality if Marvel Studios were to nix the Avengers moniker, as future Avengers films could lessen the impact of Endgame or make the MCU feel too formulaic. Team-up films are guaranteed to continue after Endgame (what's the point of a shared cinematic universe if it isn't share), but Marvel has a plethora of alternate team names to choose from. This would allow Endgame to maintain its title as the end of an era.
Thor, Hulk and Hawkeye presumably remain active in the MCU following Endgame, but their actors are likely nearing the end of their own commitments with the studio. Marvel Studios hasn't recast a role since replacing Edward Norton with Mark Ruffalo in 2012's The Avengers, so the end of Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth or Jeremy Renner's work with the studio will likely mark the end for their respective heroes.
The MCU will undoubtedly continue beyond Avengers: Endgame; it's common knowledge that the studio has an entire slate of films starring new and fan-favorite characters in the works for Phase Four. With the core of the Avengers themselves seemingly off the table for good, though, Marvel Studios should strongly consider ending the cinematic iteration of the team.
Marvel Studios doesn't need the Avengers branding moving forward, even though its properties will inevitably crossover again in the future. The heart and soul of the team ended with half its founders. Let its remaining heroes start their own team free of the Avengers legacy.
Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, Avengers: Endgame stars Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Evans as Captain America, Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, Brie Larson as Captain Marvel, Paul Rudd as Ant-Man, Don Cheadle as War Machine, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Danai Gurira as Okoye and Bradley Cooper as Rocket, with Gwyneth Paltrow Pepper Potts, Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan, Benedict Wong as Wong, Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie and Josh Brolin as Thanos. The film is in theaters now.