AVENGERS: ENDGAME Is Fan Service, But Why Is That Such A Bad Thing?

Published by Shah Shahid on

Avengers: Endgame features a lot of fan service moments, which seems to be the biggest criticism against it by many. The term ‘fan service’ gets tossed around a lot when it comes to critiquing film and television. It is often used derogatorily to describe the maker’s attempts at pandering to audiences instead of serving the story.

What Is Fan Service?

The phrase ‘fan service’ is used to imply that the makers are seemingly making it for the fans. That the story, scenes, and elements are centered around eliciting positive reactions and responses from its intended audiences. It’s used negatively, in case you were wondering.

Most recently, I’ve heard the phrase used for Avengers: Endgame, stating that the movie is total fan service. And it’s not an inaccurate description of the movie that closes out 10 years and 22 movies of the MCU. But that’s not a bad thing. So why is it supposedly a derogatory thing?

Most recently, filmmaker Kevin Smith reclaimed the phrase. By pointing out that without the fans, many of film and TV franchises that currently exist would not be possible. And of course, he’s right. But let’s take a look at that idea for a second.

Fan Service. In service of the fans. Isn’t that kind of the intention behind most mainstream film and television in the first place? To create something that audiences will enjoy and become a fan of? Isn’t it the point for something to be so good that it creates a fandom?

So why is ‘fan service’ in Avengers: Endgame such a negative thing?

I feel that most that use the phrase to mean content that focuses solely on the fan reaction, without serving the story. Which is an entirely valid criticism.

And let’s be fair, content like that rarely survives from a commercial or critical perspective. And let’s take the commercial basis of measurement for films and television as another argument towards the use of ‘fan service’ being more indicative of positivity than anything negative.

A film or television show’s success comes from the number of audiences that show up to view it. Through positive reception and word of mouth, those fans encourage others, and so on and so forth. The amount of commercial success is what determines that movie’s franchise. As well as sequel potential. Or confirms additional seasons of that television show. So are those decisions already not because of fans’ reception? Wouldn’t the decisions to continue that content be in service of the fans, through a more monetary lens than simple appeasement?

We live in an era where there is so much content.

Coming back to the fan service in Avengers: Endgame, it’s unprecedented that a movie like this even exists. A movie that connects storylines over 21 films, and a decade of pre-planned storytelling that culminated in one 3-hour movie? It wouldn’t have been possible without the fans and audiences that have continued to keep showing up for those movies over those 10 years. Especially considering that Thor: The Dark World and Avengers: Age Of Ultron also exist in that franchise. Not to mention the crazy super fans who marathon the movies in one shot in theatres prior to every major release.

So if the makers of this massive franchise choose to thank the fans by building moments into the story of Endgame that connects back to other films, stories, relationships. And rewards the fans by paying off huge emotional moments from that decade into this final film how can that ever be a bad thing?

From theatres to broadcast and cable networks to countless streaming platforms that are constantly creating original content for consumption on an hourly basis. So it’s a great time to be a fan. Of anything really.

Avengers: Endgame Fan Service enhances the movie.

If you enjoyed the stories of a teenage girl and her sparkling vampire lover, your fan fiction of it may become its own content with its own fandom. Stranger Things wouldn’t be the massive phenomenon it is if it wasn’t for the fans who responded to the nostalgia of the time and other works that inspired that series. The continuation of the Star Wars franchise, 4 decades since its creation is reliant entirely on the love of the fans of that franchise to have kept it relevant all this time.

Kevin Smith’s Spoiler-filled recap of ‘Avengers: Endgame’.

The critical success of some best-selling novels, comic books, and other source material have been the basis of film and TV adaptations for as long as the industries have been around. Creators such as J. J. Abrams, James Gunn, Kevin Feige, began their careers as fans of something before, that inspired them to become creators of their own content, that in turn is creating fans and fandoms all over the world for newer generations.

All of this is fan service! Without a group of people enjoying one kind of content, there would be no content that follows it.

So I definitely think it’s high time to reclaim that phrase as being positive and complimentary towards film and television shows. A phrase used to describe the affection that went behind the making of something that fans can positively respond to.

Join me!

Shah Shahid

Entertainment Writer | Film & TV Critic | Bollywood Blogger | Host of Split Screen Podcast | Proud Geek Girl Dad


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