The Marvel medium Universe and also the Skywalker heroic tale each had endings in 2019

Published Thursday, December 5, 2019 at 4:04 am

The Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Skywalker Saga both had endings in 2019, but one seemed grander than the other.

It sounds extremely counterintuitive, but Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker feels as if it’s been lacking in its prerelease buzz, at least when it comes to one particular element of the movie. After all, shouldn’t it be a bigger deal that this is the end of a story that started 42 years earlier?

It’s not as if that has been entirely missing from the trailers to date, of course; the teaser trailer from April announced, “This Christmas, the saga comes to an end,” while October’s trailer ran with “This Christmas, the saga will end, the story lives forever,” while C-3PO talked about seeing his friends for the last time. Yet, even in spite of these unsubtle nods towards the finality of the movie, it still feels as if the fact that the Skywalker Saga — which basically makes up Star Wars as we know it by this point, with the arguable exception of The Mandalorian — is coming to a conclusion isn’t as much of a thing as… well, as it should be.

Compare this with the excitement that surrounded Avengers: Endgame this summer, which felt far more focused around the idea of it being the culmination of everything Marvel had been doing on the big screen to that point. Even the title of the film suggested a finality that, to be honest, the movie itself didn’t actually deserve, given that the Marvel Cinematic Universe continued in a movie released just two months later, and fans responded. How does Star Wars fail to compete with the MCU when it’s bringing an actual end to proceedings?

(True, Star Wars will continue to exist on Disney+, but the films will go on hiatus for a couple of years in the wake of The Rise of Skywalker’s release.)

Part of it, perhaps, is that — Baby Yoda aside — excitement surrounding Star Wars has been curiously quiet overall of late. Could this be fallout from disappointment in some quarters surrounding the recent cinematic output? It’s possible. Solo: A Star Wars Story dampened spirits for the franchise as a whole, and came on the heels of the surprisingly divisive Star Wars: The Last Jedi, a movie that fans are still arguing about two years later. If some might have hoped that The Rise of Skywalker’s promise of closure would reunite fandom, the reality has proven to be sadly different.

Alternately, it may be that fandom en masse exhausted itself with Endgame earlier this year and can’t quite find it in its collective hearts to get excited about — or mourn — another beloved franchise just yet. This was always a risk, with Disney’s two big nerd finales hitting in the same year. Endgame was always going to come out on top in this scenario, headed to theaters first and relatively unsullied. The Rise of Skywalker, on the other hand, has to deal not only with the weight of its own expectations, but with comparisons to Endgame and how well it met viewers’ expectations.

None of this is likely to prevent The Rise of Skywalker from dominating the box office across the holidays — Star Wars is still Star Wars, after all — but, as the property heads towards a cinematic hibernation ahead of its 2021 rebirth, its overall health in fandom, and what conversations are, and aren’t, happening around what should be big tentpole moments are factors that will likely weigh into whatever’s coming next, for good or ill.

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