As I sit here thinking about the last day or so, I feel slightly foolish admitting, that I came to lead shortly after seeing a movie with the love of our life during our most recent date night: the idea that a fictional movie put together solely for the purpose of entertainment by a very superficial portion of our population strikes me as laughable, but even now, the other’s reassure me, that although it was “just a movie,” the messages presented throughout the film are, nevertheless, very real and have a much longer-lasting effect than most would probably give them credit for. And so I write.
To say that The Avengers: Endgame was bothersome is a significant understatement. Whether it was the lazy production full of recycled footage, sloppy special effects, half-assed cameos, white-male driven (and boring) story-lines which added nothing – I’ll repeat, nothing – to the overarching plot, or the gigantic, “Screw you, ladies,” that the incredible super-heroines received by giving them a single opportunity to strike a heroic pose before heading into battle only to cut back to the men just after the first blows landed despite the fact, that we’d been watching Disney coddle the male’s fragile egos for what? Three movies each plus the two-and-a-half hours it took just to get to that point in the movie? And at the end of it all, what happened? Without giving away too much, let’s just say, that whoever was responsible for that nonsense had apparently not seen the previous movies, because while poetic, having the human who started it all be the end to it all, as well, made no sense given the power which should have vaporized him on contact yet he was somehow magically able to wield. Needless to say, it was a disappointing three hours, and to the women of the Avengers franchise, I am so sorry we didn’t get to see more from you – especially you, Brie Larson. They built you up to such a point in Captain Marvel, that we all thought you were going to be a key player in this, the final flick, but a literal flicker of your shining face is all we were given, as yet again, the men of this world dominate the screen, and that’s f***** up. You all had so much more to offer.
All of that aside, though, what really bothered me – and bothered me to the point where I left my own reality to speak my peace regarding this one, mind you – was the message of that silly movie. I will preface my approaching rant, by stating that once the Time Stone was introduced in Dr. Strange, it was apparent, that the only solution to The Avenger’s loss in Infinity War was to somehow utilize it to revert back to a point before Thanos claimed all the stones in order to 1) prevent him from using them and 2) attempt to destroy them, so a hearty middle finger to you again, Disney, for being as predictable and boring as ever. I will give you points for ever-so-briefly addressing the time-space paradox, but that you utilized the quantum realm to do it was just lazy writing. Even in the quantum realm, time only ever moves forward: it happens much slower, apparently, but even in the case of Janet Van Dyne who was lost in the quantum realm for three decades, time still moved forward – never backwards. You could’ve easily assigned your version of Scott Lang some sort of quantum realm-given power which allowed them phase back into the past or an alternate reality, but instead you chose the worn-out plot-line which only served to rather accurately illustrate the state of your writing team and storytelling ability.
“Captain Marvel…we all thought you were going to be
a key player in this, the final flick, but a literal flicker
of your shining face is all we were given,
as yet again, the men of this world dominate the screen,
and that’s f***** up.”
Again, that part doesn’t bother me so much. Time travel would be necessary, because The Avengers being who they are, they could never stand for defeat. That 50% of all life was wiped out on their watch is a blow to the ego of humankind, that they obviously could not stomach, and time travel, much like Thanos himself, was inevitable. But was it really? I mean, I get it: without the time travel and going back to somehow use the infinity stones to bring back every single life that was lost as a result of Thanos’ use of the infinity stones, you would have no movie (a result I think ideal now, especially having suffered through… that). No movie means no more money for you, though, so fine. Yeah, whatever. You’ve got your billions. Kudos to you. But at what cost?
During the somber moments of the movie’s early minutes, we see multiple scenes of a surprisingly empty world (inaccurate at best considering that even with half of the world’s population turned to ash five years prior, the population would still be a booming 3.35 billion). No traffic, minimal electricity, governments are described as being in shambles, and Captain America is leading not a team of superheroes but a grief support group for, not shockingly, a dominantly male cast. Following the support group’s conclusion, though, the scene cuts to Black Widow who is wrapping up a conversation with heroes scattered around the world and universe, and when Captain America enters, he mentions seeing a pod of whales in the bay on the way over. “Fewer boats, cleaner water,” he explains – or something very close to that effect, and what’s more, he goes on to reason, that he keeps telling people that they have to move on; they have to accept what’s transpired and build anew. And wasn’t that Thanos’ intention all along? He wasn’t killing off half of all life because it would bring him some kind of supreme satisfaction or joy, nor was he acting out of a misguided sense of retribution for actions committed against him in some untold saga: no, he specifically says, that he’s doing what needs to be done so that those who remain have a chance to thrive and prosper again.
And it was already happening! Only five years later, and the oceans were bouncing back, and whales in a formerly whale-less bay were evidence, that his plan was working just as he explained had happened with every other planet he and his armies had culled during their expedition for the infinity stones. Herein lies my reason for taking lead: The Avengers – self-proclaimed heroes of the world – acted purely out of selfish ambition to undo the “evil” Thanos wrought. They decided to go back in time (stupid) to collect the weapon (pointless) before Thanos could (not possible) in order to use it for their own purposes (which is a fundamentally evil action in every other story of good and evil humankind has ever told). I mean seriously. What the literal f***? The Avengers: Endgame, essentially the culmination of 21 previous and related movies with a total pricetag in excess of $4 billion spent over the course of 11 years, was all created to say for the entire world to hear and marvel at (pun intended), “We are actually the villains.” Bra-vo.
“Before Thanos came ’round, the planet was dying,
not unlike our planet today, and even with five years of relief,
suddenly re-introducing 3.35 billion people to
the equation can only result in putting the planet
back onto that path of destruction and exploitation.”
Every single story we tell our children of good versus evil portrays the good guy as the altruistic seeker of selfless deeds and the bad guy as the bloodlusting bully who’s out for revenge or a skewed sense of justice or to slake an otherwise unquenchable rage inside. Time and time again, the heroes, though given chances a-plenty, opt against taking the lives of the villains they’re pitted against even in the most dire of circumstances, because taking life is wrong unless it’s absolutely necessary – which it never was – and yet in Endgame, we see the exact opposite, and moreover we celebrate its telling. In fact, the opportunity isn’t even presented after an exhaustive search which costs thousands or hundreds or even tens of lives. No, Thanos’ life ceases while he is on his knees with a crippled arm having destroyed the stones at his humble shack sitting just above his cherished garden. He had no defenses, he put up no fight, he displayed no anger or malice whatsoever, and yet he is hacked down out of spite. We literally witness at least seven main characters – Captain America, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Captain Marvel, Hulk, Thor, and Rocket – seven heroes, transition to villainy, and only the raccoon (who is a pirate, I might add) – not the humans, not the half-mutant, not the Kree, and not even the god – has the nerve to question it. Said “heroes” then spend the next 2.5 hours attempting to undo the good – yes, I said it, good – that Thanos had created, so I ask you, who is the true hero of this story?
Endgame and its resounding cries of success only prove to me, that humanity has lost all sense of morality. When good can no longer be discerned from evil, evil has already won. We grew up hearing the adage, “History is written by the winners,” and that truth rings clear in this tale, because only the “heroes” who were part of Thanos’ execution knew how the murder went down, and by the movie’s end, each had either received the outcome they wanted or died in the process – either way, no one was confessing to the crime. Even if you try to reason it away by saying, “But they undid everything Thanos did without undoing anything that had happened in the five years since,” what difference does it make? That good was only possible because of those “evil actions.” Before Thanos came ’round, the planet was dying, not unlike our planet today, and even with five years of relief, suddenly re-introducing 3.35 billion people to the equation can only result in putting the planet back onto that path of destruction and exploitation – “the way things were” as they repeatedly reminisced. Shame on you for creating a movie, fiction or otherwise, that glorifies such behavior!
“Good guys.” Give me a break! What could be more evil than the destruction of an entire race, however scary looking or grotesque, in pursuit of vanity and selfish desire? When the earth’s plates shift below the sea, and a tsunami results that claims the lives of thousands, we don’t call nature evil and vow to avenge the souls of the loved ones lost. Or when a plague decimates a country’s population, we don’t endeavor to find some way of undoing what has already been done. That would be completely absurd! And yet, Endgame suggests that Thanos was somehow in the wrong for pursuing a similar outcome. If anything, his intentions were entirely pure and noble – a fact clearly demonstrated in the movie by his ability to lift Mjolnir, a hammer known far and wide to be wield-able only by those who are pure of heart. Had he been motivated by selfish ambition or rage or jealously or anything other than creating a better life for everyone who lives, I would gladly apologize for what I’ve already said, shut my mouth, and speak no more on the subject, but multiple times, Thanos himself says, that he’s not a bad guy, and as we learn in those quiet, early moments of the movie before his head is separated from his body, he is not a liar, either. I understand that losing loved ones is never the ideal solution, but it cannot be denied, that sometimes, whether we want it to happen or not, people die. Such is life! And The Avengers fought valiantly to be sure, but when no force either on earth or from the skies is capable of stopping the one who would cull life as we know it, that does not make him evil – it makes him/her a force of nature itself, and as such, Thanos was above the labels of good and evil. Not so with the heroes of Endgame, though: they readily and knowingly traded in their “good guy” status for a darker, more sinister title, and for the better part of three hours, I sat there and watched as those liars, those deceivers, those champions of humanity’s greed and entitlement were made to look like champions of good and harbingers of light. The moment Thor cut down Thanos in cold blood, he and Captain America along with everyone else standing in that garden-side cabin should’ve been rendered incapable of wielding Mjolnir and Stormbreaker alike.
“…when no force either on earth or from the skies is capable
of stopping the one who would cull life as we know it,
that does not make him evil – it makes him/her a force of nature itself…”
I want nothing to do with that kind of humanity. If I could somehow take back every penny I’ve given to the Marvel universe, I would do so in a heartbeat – not that my roughly $200 would mean anything in comparison to the billions made as a result of their 21 films, but hey, if it means not being associated with that kind of hero, I’m in. That kind of hero goes directly against everything our race claims to stand for – speaking, of course, not of skin color or tone but of the human race – so unless Endgame was some kind of bold proclamation denouncing ideals of virtue and selflessness and altruism on behalf of our kind (a proclamation for which we received no memo, by the way), then I refuse to be part of Hollywood’s entertainment industry from here on out. I don’t know, which is to say that we don’t know if the messages communicated in this movie were just a product of a tired and lazy writing team or if orders came down from Disney on high to push ideals which seem consistent with their corporate standards, but until some sort of apology and re-commitment to quality storytelling are made, we will not spend another penny on the Marvel franchise. That may not seem like a hard-hitting statement to some, and indeed, even as we type, we realize how little weight our words probably carry, but we have been followers of the Marvel comics and varied tales since the earliest days of our childhood, and we cannot help but feel like if Stan Lee was still alive, he would be heartbroken to know that what should have been his greatest accomplishment was, in fact, the death of even one lifelong fan’s support and admiration.