Did Avengers set bar too high for Game of Thrones?


Game of Thrones has received a lot of criticism in its final season. Did Avengers: Endgame set the bar too high?

The reception to the final season of Game of Thrones has been mixed, to say the least, but was it always doomed to be this way? On Twitter, Deadpool creator Rob Liefeld suggested the strong reception to Avengers: Endgame made things difficult for GOT. He didn’t elaborate, but it seems he’s suggesting Marvel set too high of a bar for the Thrones conclusion, one it hasn’t been able to live up to.

Do I think there is some truth to this? Of course, as Endgame was certainly a tough act to follow. However, I think Marvel’s contribution to the GOT criticism has been fairly minor.

1. First, I don’t think The Avengers conclusion set expectations “too high,” because Thrones was already such a cultural force. The expectations were going to be sky-high regardless.

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2. As has been discussed ad nauseam, I think the criticisms of GOT’s final season have been very legitimate, not a product of unreasonable expectations. I think certain plot points and characters arc were not well done, and I’m far from alone on this.

3. If there is a dynamic that may have doomed Thrones before the season even started, it wasn’t Avengers, but the reveal that Game of Thrones could have gone on for more seasons (creators Benioff and Weiss felt this was a good endpoint). And even if the creators wholeheartedly did not feel like they were rushing the ending, this laid the groundwork for the “rushed” narrative. I think this has only exasperated some of the already valid criticism surrounding the show.

4. It’s also worth reflecting on the possibility that in terms of wrapping up a story, Avengers had it easier. Although the Marvel series had to wrap up a large story, it only had to finalize the arcs of a few characters. We’ll be seeing many of the heroes in future films, so the movie didn’t have the Thrones challenge of wrapping up everyone’s story.

The more crucial point is that the “nature” of the Marvel movies made things a lot easier for the movie makers. The Avengers story could be abundantly analyzed and theorized about (like Thrones), but wasn’t subject to NEARLY the same level of “nitpicking.” Perhaps it was the superhero nature of the universe or the fact the movies had a much more light-hearted and comedic tone than the more serious Game of Thrones. Or perhaps it was also the fact that GOT was based on a book series and was bound to receive criticism from fans of the text. However you want to explain it, the storytelling expectations for Thrones were a lot higher than they were for Avengers.

As well as Endgame was received, there were countless plot points and questions that would have been ripe for criticism if one viewed the movie through the “Thrones lens.” Here are some questions posed by an Insider article in response to the film: (there were 27 total).

-“Why is Captain America old at the film’s end? How did he age?”

-“Did no one go to school for the five years after the “Infinity War” snap? Is going back to school super weird if some of your classmates weren’t affected by “Infinity War”?”

-“How does no one die from Thanos directly shooting up the Avengers HQ?”

-“Is the time travel in “Avengers: Endgame” sound?”

-“Why doesn’t future Nebula die when past Nebula is shot and killed?”

Some of these questions have decent answers, but this can’t be said for a lot of them. The film’s positive feedback speaks for itself, however, suggesting these questions haven’t bothered viewers too much. Is this because the “flaws” of Endgame are simply not as egregious of that of Thrones? Perhaps, but I think it’s more about the different ways people judge these different forms of content.

5. I’ll conclude with something that’s hard to quantify. There is a fair and seemingly accurate perception that Avengers: Endgame was received very well and the conclusion to Game of Thrones has not been. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that a lot of these perceptions are driven by our social media “bubbles.” I think we all fall victim to overestimating the degree to which platforms like Twitter represents the broader population. As documented in a recent Pew study, only ~22% of Americans use Twitter, and the top 10% heaviest users account for 80% of all tweets.

I bring this up to say this: it’s fair to say that social media received Endgame well and was much more critical of GOT. But the more people I talk to, the stronger my suspicion is that outside the social media bubble, most people received BOTH Endgame AND Thrones quite well. Twitter is full of people that will dive deep on the minute details of a show like GOT and point out fair criticisms, but most people don’t care or have time to watch shows this meticulously. If one watches GOT’s final season without thinking about it too deeply, it’s easy to see how some people could love it.

Next. Game of Thrones series finale reactions and surprises. dark

Overall, it wasn’t The Avengers, but GOT itself, that created an enormous level of expectations for the final season. This was due to among other things, the show’s high quality, the serious nature of the story, the fact it was based off of books, and the “rushed” narrative that was planted prior to episode one’s airing.

When it comes to concluding a series of television, there may never have been a higher bar to clear. It doesn’t seem like the show cleared it, and that’s definitely disappointing. But it’s worth appreciating the positive reasons that the show had such a high bar to begin with.

What did you think of the Game of Thrones finale? Be sure to tell us in the comment section below!