Readers Write In #184: Proof that Marvel has a heart

Posted on May 19, 2020


(by Aman Basha)

Last year, Martin Scorsese provoked controversy, conversation, thought pieces, reactions and discussions when he called the Marvel series as not cinema, but theme parks. Scorsese later clarified his statement with a lengthy article which I haven’t read, but later gathered that he felt these movies had a sameness and lacked emotional connect. This statement has been supported and attacked equally. It left me to wonder whether a successful attempt to create a whole universe through movies similar to the ones presented in comics and literature didn’t warrant the tag of an artistic experience?

Scorsese and most of Marvel’s detractors are right on some counts, the movies have an overwhelming sameness and seem to play too safe and by-the-numbers. Yet the point that commentators miss is that these aspects are deliberate and by design. When one looks at pieces from a puzzle, they don’t make much of an impression. It is only in coming together that their true purpose unfolds in front of us.

To examine Marvel and assess it, the most appropriate place would be its conclusion, the culmination of 10 years and 22 films:

Avengers Endgame

Just as the MCU kickstarted in 2008 with Iron Man, transforming a talented but troubled actor into a star with the role of a lifetime, Endgame too appropriately begins with Iron Man stuck in space and rescued by the newest member to join the club and the first female lead, Captain Marvel.

The movie returns back to Earth, familar characters all still processing their round defeat, sour memories as Stark angrily lashes at good ole Captain America, who’s back with a shave, blaming their conflict depicted in Captain America: Civil War, a movie that shows the ramifications of the destruction left behind by superheroes and the conflict between superheroes in a much stronger way than Batman V. Superman, which, in its conflict between being “cinema” and being a part of a “franchise” fell flat, not doing adequate justice to neither unlike Captain America: Civil War, whose fresh character introductions were far more organic than BvS’s trailer showreel.

As they find Thanos and Thor finally goes to the head, we are witness to a great storytelling decision of fast forward 5 years, depicting how the world still has holes and did not heal from the loss. Characters try their best to move on, yet still struggle, even the eternal optimist Cap admits to be unable to. Antman magically reappears to tearfully reunite with his teenager daughter who he last saw as a child and pitches his mad time travel plan, we see what happened to all our favorites.

Iron Man has a happy family, the daughter he had dreamed of, this is a life he is unwilling to risk yet he cannot rest with the possibility that he may bring them all back, the protege who pleaded in his arms to save him too. Mark Ruffalo pops in, with a hilarious transformation that combines the geek Banner and brawny Hulk concluding the struggle between the geeky Banner and brawny Hulk. It paves way to a laugh out loud scene where Banner has to recreate Hulk’s destructive rampage. To top it all is Thor’s turn, from the royal princeling to a depressed, overweight alcoholic. He becomes the center of most of the film’s jokes and digs yet still has a very real PTSD. Hawkeye transforms into a vengeful vigilante who’s offered by the same Black Widow who he had helped at some point.

Within the spectrum of the film, every character is given his moment to shine, every previous film is referenced and elevated, even Thor; Dark World, widely considered as one of the weaker films gets greater weight and feeling. There are loopholes, but given Marvel, they’re cleverly using it as a way to bring back and explore, in greater detail, fan favorite Loki in a series.

Endgame is the best of Marvel, a monument constructed as a tribute and love letter to its fans. Moments echo brilliantly from earlier films and arcs that began long ago find a beautiful touching end. I seem to be out of control and babbling, but how do I describe the satisfaction of watching lovers seperated by time reunite, a selfish genius sacrificing himself to save all, a selfless soldier finally living the life he deserved, the villain and his cohorts, hyped and shown from a decade finally getting their end. People finally coming to terms and making peace with their past, their parents and their regrets.

It might be misconstrued as a greatest hits parade only serving its fans, but this too is exceptionally difficult, given how Game Of Thrones, with a whole season and Star Wars with far lesser characters failed to give the satisfactory payoff to all the buildup and myth making it conveyed.

The debate still continues; yet I don’t seem to care, all that I wrote, I wrote with the joyful memories it gave me, the heart it had, it may be cinema or a theme park ride, but I love it and so did the audience, they love you 2.8 billion.