The premiere of Avengers: Endgame was on Monday night, and as the first reactions and reviews from press screenings start to roll in, Marvel Cinematic Universe fans everywhere are jonesing for whatever Endgame-related content they can get. Unfortunately, that Endgame-related content cannot legally include Avengers: Endgame for another two days. That’s a lot of programming hours for MCU fans to fill, but don’t panic: There are plenty of other Ends in the Game. Here are just a few.
This 2011 Canadian television series starring Shawn Doyle as an agoraphobic chess master who solves mysteries looks like it would be good for nearly 10-hours of pre-Endgame Endgaming, but beware: Not only does the season finale of this one-season show end on a cliffhanger, it no longer seems to be available on Hulu. Going to the URL in the trailer takes you to a page with a description of a documentary from 2016 which is also called Endgame, and which is also not available on Hulu. Checkmate!
Endgame: Bronx Lotta Finale (1983)
Director Joe D’Amato’s follow-up to Messalina … Orgasmo Imperiale and Unleashed Perversions of Emanuelle didn’t get much of a trailer for its home video release, but how much of a trailer do you need when your visual aesthetic is “Mad Max, but cheaper,” and your logline is “A telepathic mutant recruits a post-World War III TV game-show warrior to lead her band of mutants to safety?” None much of a trailer, that’s how much. The Marvel Cinematic Universe wishes it had more post-World War III TV game-show warriors, and you can watch Endgame: Bronx Lotta Finale on Amazon Prime right now.
The Hulu page that now lives where the Endgame television series once did describes a documentary from 2016, subtitled in English, about “a troubled middle-school boy from a poor Texas border town” finding himself by playing chess. That has to be about Brownsville, but a Spanish-language documentary about Brownsville called Endgame doesn’t seem to exist, unless it’s a savvy repackaging of Kings of Brownsville in the wake of this 2015 feature from director Carmen Marron. What better way to take your mind off the long wait to discover which Avengers live and which Avengers die than by plunging yourself into the world of middle-school chess competitions with the kid from Modern Family?
Will a political thriller about the last days of Apartheid from Dredd director Pete Travis be as inspiring as Black Panther, or will it just make you madder that Wakanda decided to sit out the entire 20th century? There’s only one way to find out for sure, but the answer is that it will make you madder about Wakanda’s neutrality, and eager for an MCU film that finally owns up to arms dealer Howard Stark and then-CIA-agent Nick Fury’s involvement in the South African Border War.
Operation: Endgame (2010)
It is a truth universally acknowledged that the only place you’ll find more recognizable faces than an MCU movie is an almost-direct-to-video ensemble comedy from the heyday of direct-to-video ensemble comedies. Rob Corddry! Maggie Q! Bob Odenkirk! Zach Galifianakis! Adam Scott! Jeffery Tambor. Ving Rames! Ellen Barkin? None of these people are in Marvel Cinematic Universe films, but the unnecessary colon in the title makes this movie the closest thing to Avengers: Endgame on the market under certain criteria, mostly typographical.
Director Conor McPherson’s 2000 TV movie of Samuel Beckett’s 1957 play, starring Michael Gambon and David Thewlis is currently available as part of an obscenely expensive out-of-print DVD box set or in very low-resolution versions in the dodgier corners of the internet. But from the very first line—“Finished, it’s nearly finished, it must be nearly finished,”—Beckett somehow conjures up the spirit of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, although his death in 1989 meant he was only allowed visions of the promised land of franchise entertainment we all live in today. There isn’t a trailer, but the music video for Taylor Swift’s “End Game (ft. Ed Sheeran and Future)” embodies the same “the earth is extinguished, though I never saw it lit” vibe that powers the work of Samuel Beckett and Kevin Feige.
The Trailer to End Game (2006)
On the evidence of this trailer, I cannot in good conscience recommend anyone pass the time between now and the moment they can finally watch Avengers: Endgame by watching the 2006 directorial debut of stuntman and sometime-double-for-Jackie-Chan Andy Cheng—not when Endgame: Bronx Lotta Finale is out there. But the trailer is not to be missed. The lorazepam-dazed voiceover! James Woods saying “You took a bullet for the man. Nobody can ask for more than that!” Burt Reynolds doing some kind of weird riff on JFK! Watching this trailer on a loop might not be a medically advised way to spend the next 48 consecutive hours, but since Avengers: Endgame isn’t yet available, what choice do you have? What choice do any of us have?