“Avengers: Endgame”: Is the Brand Strong?


Last weekend, Avengers: Endgame, the 22nd film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), debuted across the world. With a casual $1.2 billion opening weekend, Endgame seems to be well on its way to making history. But was it any good? Furthermore, was it better than the rest of the “Infinity Saga”? Just how strong is the Marvel brand? I decided to test that out.

My methodology was simple: by comparing the critical and audience reviews of the MCU, as well as box office trends, I would ascertain just how beloved the series of films has been over the last eleven years. Using this information, we can also inference how well Endgame will do.

With this in mind, I scoured Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic for reviews, making sure to distinguish between the bullshit Tomatometer and the actual critical score the films received. I also counted the total number of reviews, and took a weighted composite score between the two aggregator sites.

Here are the results from the critics:

MCU Critic Scores

As you can see, Endgame comes in at #2 with an 82% rating. Black Panther, the 2018 Academy Award winner, still ranks as the critics’ choice MCU film with a slight edge (83%). We also see how much everyone loved the original Avengers film, yet that sentiment barely translated to its sequels outside of the current film. Notwithstanding, this shows us that Endgame may have enough critical acclaim to rack up some nominations if Marvel and Disney are serious — especially to send off series veterans like Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, and Scarlett Johansson. Directors Joe and Anthony Russo may also be able to snag a few to complement the House of Mouse royalty checks from the Captain America and Avengers films they’ve helmed. While I really enjoyed the film, I didn’t expect it to have such praise outside of hardcore fans.

Critics only tell a fraction of the story, however. What do audiences think? And how does that affect the eventual box office draw?

Well, let’s start with the former, bearing in mind that there may be some trolling involved:

MCU Audience Scores

As demonstrated above, audiences have a different view of the films. This is to be expected: critics are supposed to be harsh. It’s their job to point out flaws and areas for improvement. But moviegoers have largely agreed with critics regarding this entire franchise. In fact, there are only two cases where critics seem to like the film more than the audience: Black Panther and Captain Marvel.

Critics vs Audience

It should be noted that these two films were also the targets of trolling, so people may have liked them more than demonstrated. Notwithstanding, audience approval tends to translate at the box office, because people talk, and word of mouth works wonders.

With that in mind, here are the opening weekends and final box office tallies of the entire franchise.

MCU Box Office

Unsurprisingly, there are many factors that can be attributed to box office success. Using all of our compiled data, however, we can finally estimate how much of a “word of mouth” bump to realistically expect. We should also keep in mind that both Captain Marvel and Endgame are both in theaters, and their numbers are bound to change.

Word of Mouth

Judging by Endgame’s current haul, Marvel’s recent trends, and consensus public approval, it is probably safe to assume that it will track in the range of at least a 3.0 “word of mouth” multiplier. This puts it in similar company as its fellow Avengers films, which tracked as high as 3.87 (The Avengers) and as low as 3.2 (Avengers: Infinity War).

With an opening weekend of $1,223,641,414 (worldwide; $357,115,007 domestic), it has early signs of reaching $3 billion. But this upcoming weekend will be critical. If it maintains a lighter drop in the box office, it would be a safe assumption that it has significant “legs” to compete with the “Unobtanium”-fueled Avatar.

For reference, Avengers had a $207,438,708 opening and a 50.3% drop, but went on to have a 3.01 multiplier. Age of Ultron, on the other hand, had a $191,271,109 opening and a 59.4% drop, with only a 2.4 multiplier. The former had a strong opening, critic score (79%), and audience score (88%). The latter was weaker in all three categories — it made $16,167,599 less than its predecessor and critics were lukewarm on it (67%), and audiences enjoyed it less (80%).

Black Panther has had the strongest legs in the franchise so far, with a solid debut ($202,003,951), critical (83%) and audience (81%) acclaim, and superb word of mouth (3.47 multiplier, 44.7% second week drop). If Endgame wishes to surpass James Cameron, it may be good to have this kind of trend rather than Ultron’s.

In truth, I have no idea how the film will actually do in the end. Do I want to see it make history? Of course! Avatar was a grossly overrated film but a box office juggernaut. I’d love to see a movie that realizes my childhood finally take down James Cameron and Blue Pocahontas.

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