This is going to go into huge spoilers for the film “Avengers: Infinity War” if you haven’t seen it and don’t want spoilers. Go away for now.
Seriously, you’ll want to get lost.
So, Infinity War was a pleasant surprise. Not the least of which it was rated 84% on Rotten Tomatoes, which for a superhero film by Marvel, is fairly low. I expected a popcorn action blockbuster with little heart. Just a temporary sweetness that quickly subsides like my low-carb shortbread. One of my worries about the film was that it would play it safe, like Marvel tends to. That means that they would kill as few characters as possible, lower the violence to killing or random robots or mutants (well, they did kinda stock to that here), and generally keep it a PG rated film where you go home happy in knowing your characters are safe and secure.
This did not happen lol.
Indeed, Infinity War occurred as it does in the comics, comics I do not read, and so I was shocked and appalled when the main villain, Thanos, won. Thanos, having come from a planet that got destroyed through overpopulation, seems to think that the Universe could benefit from his desire to decimate half the universe. In order to do so, he has to collect all the cosmic gems that go into his “Infinity Gauntlet”, which lets him wield the power of the stones to do anything he wants. Now again I stress, Thanos won. What ended up happening was a horrific set of scenes without any music where people just started disappearing into dust. Civilians, superheroes, everyone alike. In most cases the people simply didn’t know what was going on; however, in Spider-Man’s case his death for some reason takes several seconds longer than the other characters. This lets him express a boyish fear to Tony Stark as he slowly passes to dust. The film ends with Thanos retiring to a hut looking sad for doing what he figured he had to do. Credits roll.
This places the film, taken alone, in the rare literary genre of “satire”. Satires really interest me as stories. Compared to the four great stories of literary history “comedy, romance, tragedy, and satire” – satire is the odd man out. The Ghost of Christmas Past, the creepy uncle no one talks about, take your pick. Satire is depressing and frankly, not that enjoyable! What defines the difference of satire to the other stories is that the characters go down a destructive path leading to disaster – but unlike a tragedy – there is no hope for the future. Now, Marvel probably will have another big Avengers film where somehow Thanos’ process is reversed, everyone comes back alive, yay. However, we can’t assume that despite the large contracts given out to many of the ‘dead’ superheroes, that they’ll all make it back.
It’s a bold move. Satires are not what the blockbuster audience is used to and it doesn’t provide the rewarding dopamine burst of “happy” to your brain cells like a more uplifting film would. I, myself, feel the same way with films that have dark and near-hopeless endings. A few come to mind, “Logan” which came out last year was absolutely fantastic but it ends as a tragedy. I bought Logan…It’s still shrink-wrapped, and it will be for quite some time, because I know how sad I’ll feel at the end of it. The feel is sadness, and when you have some moments to kick back with a movie – I don’t know about you – but a movie that will make me sad usually doesn’t come first to mind!
So, if we define Infinity War as a satire then what is the point of it all? I actually think it teaches a pretty good lesson that isn’t taught in life much anymore: failure. Failure happens, we’re not always going to win. Look, I personally have no shortage of self-confidence, in fact admittedly I struggle with having too much confidence and fight daily against it becoming arrogance. When you win or are lucky all the time you get complacent, feel entitled, and become stubborn and set in your ways. Failure, like a forest fire, burns but with that “burn” comes the opportunity for learning and regrowth. I’ve come to accept some failure in my life as a good thing, it humbles me and helps me think and ground myself back in reality.
The elephant in the room is that we know this satire won’t last. Soon enough the superheroes will be super and find a way to partially restore the damage Thanos has done. However, until that happens – which is likely in a few years – we can enjoy the bold move Marvel took with this film.