Published on April 24th, 2019 | by Lauren Bycroft0
Is This The Biggest Pop Culture Weekend In Modern History
Is the weekend of April 26, 2019 the biggest in pop culture history? Or at the very least, the most deadly? Fans of both the Avengers and Game of Thrones are buying stock in Kleenex right now as they prepare for Avengers: Endgame and the Battle of Winterfell, this Sunday’s third episode of Game of Thrones’ final season. For those of us who participate in both these fandoms it’s hard to imagine a more momentous moment in our pop culture consumption. The MCU has been intricately and masterfully woven over the last decade – the pinnacle of what a cinematic universe could be. Game of Thrones has been one of, if not the biggest show on television, for almost as long premiering in April of 2011. While Thrones will continue in some fashion via a prequel series, the end of this iteration of the story marks the true end of an era; one that will round the corner into the latter half of its final season with an 82 minute battle that promises bloodshed and heartbreak. Likewise, though the MCU continues into Phase 4 following Endgame’s release this weekend, what the Marvel universe will look like in the wake of the inevitable loss coming remains a mystery.
We’ve seen epic battles on Game of Thrones before. Season 6’s Battle of the Bastards was one of the most intense battles ever filmed both in its making and viewing. The Battle of Winterfell, by the numbers, already dwarfs that – with its 11 weeks of night shoots it will be the longest battle sequence in film and television history. Bastards, by comparison, was shot in “just” 25 days. In interviews the cast have described filming the Battle of Winterfell as one of the hardest things they’ve ever had to do with Maisie Williams (Arya) describing moments where you’re “broken as a human”. After the season’s first two episodes brought many of the show’s characters together within the walls of Winterfell, providing reunions and some rare moments of happiness, this third episode will undoubtedly break fans’ hearts. Death pools abound as people try to predict who will die first and just how many of our beloved characters we’ll lose in the end. Game of Thrones has always been a brutal and at times bleak show and this may just be its darkest moment.
Meanwhile with Avengers: Endgame Marvel stands on the precipice of the completion of one of the greatest feats in film history – the conclusion of a ten year cinematic arc. The 22nd film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has a tall order to fill; bringing the previous 21 films to a logical and satisfying conclusion. The three hour long superhero epic feels like a passing of the torch or changing of the guard. Though they can’t say much, press for the film has felt like a farewell tour for the original six – Robert Downey Jr (Iron Man), Chris Evans (Captain America), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), and Mark Ruffalo (Hulk). There is rampant speculation regarding which of these core team members we may lose before Endgame is through and there will be loss to be sure. Co-directors Joe and Anthony Russo know that there has to be a price to pay for our beloved heroes as hard as it may be to witness.
Post Endgame and July’s Spider-Man: Far From Home Marvel continues on into the aforementioned Phase 4. What this looks like and how Marvel’s second Spider-Man film wraps up Phase 3, we’re not yet sure. Familiar characters like Black Panther and Doctor Strange will continue on while new and somewhat lesser known characters and superhero teams like The Eternals will enter the fray. The Guardians of the Galaxy are set to return – we know this because James Gunn has been hired back to direct the third film – but given the events of Avengers: Infinity War and what may occur in Endgame we don’t know yet what the team may look like. No one is suggesting Marvel may somehow be unsuccessful going forward, but it is an uncertain time for fans as they prepare to possibly say goodbye to characters like Iron Man or Captain America as they know them. The same is doubly true for Game of Thrones fans who, no matter how this final season ends, will have to say good bye to all their favorite characters one way or another. The universe will travel backwards thousands of years into the distant past introducing an entirely new cast and world. It’s a fascinating moment in pop culture history watching these two immense fandoms converge in such a momentous way. There may never be another weekly cable television series or effectively integrated cinematic universe as successful as these two have been. If that’s the case, then this weekend will undoubtedly be one that goes down in film and television history.