This weekend, I saw Avengers: Endgame with my 11 year old. It is by no means a perfect film, but I do feel that it firmly fits within the spectrum of best possible endings for the series.
This little rant will involve certain details of the film, so hold on a moment and let me vamp for spoiler protection.
Now, maybe it was the fact that I spent the night previous shivering in the New Jersey Pine Barrens with my son’s Scouts BSA troop…
Or maybe it was the fact that this film was unabashedly joyful in celebrating its characters…
But I cried, perhaps, four different times during the movie. A couple of times those were tears of fannish joy–Captain America wielding Thor’s Mjolnir or the arrival of all of the “lost” superheroes. And once was purely character driven, such as when Ant-Man finds his now-grown daughter still alive. I didn’t cry at Tony Stark’s death, but I emitted a few tears as I could hear my son softly weeping.
After the fannish glow–after I thought far too long about the cockamamie time travel nonsense–I really began to wonder about the return of all those vanished people after the first one. Sure, the superheroes all jumped back into the fray. But what about everyone else?
What if you had moved on after your parents disappeared? What if you returned, like Scott Lang, to find your daughter was now five years older? What if you disappeared while piloting a commercial jet, killing all the non-vanishing folks onboard? What if your spouse remarried? Is your older sister now younger than you? (What does that do for royal hereditary if suddenly the firstborn is younger than the second?) WHERE IS ALL OF YOUR STUFF?
The Idea: Five Years Later — Not Just A Rehash of The Resurrected, The Returned, The 4400, etc.
OK, I get that this sort of thing has been mined before. Missing people returned from the dead/mysterious disappearance is something that happened a bit in the post-LOST era of TV.
So, yes, I want a LOST-style narrative-style. I want to tell complex stories about peoples whose lives were turned inside out by the ol’ Infinity Snap. Before the Snap, after, and after the Return. Good people. Bad people (you return to find Hawkeye murdered your Cartel, for example). Normal people. People in pain. People who return to losses they cannot fathom. People punished by circumstances beyond their control. People who have been given the gift of a clean start. Are there food shortages now? Do wealthy folks suddenly find themselves poor and homeless?
In a Marvel universe full of gods and warriors, what is it like being just a person?
I want to see the Marvel universe from the ground level. Here’s the other part of that–what’s life like when alien invasions periodically devastate your biggest cities. What’s life like when ARC Reactors become the alternative energy of choice? Do you still go to church after you’ve met a god? Are you still a skeptic when you see magic practiced on the streets of Manhattan?
This is perfect for Disney+ or ABC. Just let me know when you want to talk, Mr. Iger.
Here’s another retelling of the G.I. Joe origin story, paying proper respect to Larry Hama. I just happened to re-read the first fifty issues or so the other week, and they were as just as good as I remembered them.
Yes, the point was to sell toys. But Hama has a great mind for storytelling and realism. I still have memories of reading issue #50 for the first time–the Battle of Springfield, which claimed YourTownUSA Springfield for Cobra long before the Simpsons moved in.
There was a scene where a Cobra family–career terrorist and his children–burn their documents and put down the family dog before boarding the airlift out. That haunted 10 year old me.
I think I want to get in the habit of cataloguing my media consumption here. I generally get just a few opportunities to view a pictures on a screen (I was going to say watch television, but that isn’t strictly true any longer)–while working out on my elliptical machine in the basement, on the weekends if I catch a movie with the kids, and falling asleep while my wife watches a show next to me.
It turns out I can fall asleep while holding up a phone or tablet so she can see it.
So, let’s kick this off with something I watched with the kids this weekend: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. I’ve read all the Harry Potter books to the kids, with the exception of the last one. For some reason, they just didn’t want me to read The Deathly Hallows to them, and I know they’ve read every other Potter book on their own. I haven’t gotten a good reason why, but I suspect the death of Dumbledore hit them pretty hard and that they have heard noises about more death in the last book.
Collectively, the Lstr household thought the first movie was uneven but fun. Bottom line: This movie was uneven and somewhat joyless. That’s despite the fact that I enjoyed each and every actor on the screen, particularly Jude Law.
My daughter uttered the phrase “They are not going to kill that baby, are they?” twice during this film. And the phrase “This movie murders babies” at least once.
Pretty much the entire ending of the first movie was undone through unconvincing exposition. Jacob’s memory? Wasn’t wiped. The death of creepy kid? Didn’t happen. Newt’s love interest? Estranged via awkward lack of communication. I wonder if the thunderbird is back in Newt’s box somewhere.
Both the Ministry of Magic and Dumbledore want Newt as a their secret agent against Grindelwald because, essentially, he’s so weird and awkward that nobody would suspect he’s anything but the Magical Steve Irwin/Doctor Who mashup that he is. Did nobody else see the first movie where he exposed Grindelwald? No, I guess the first movie didn’t happen and we’re doing this who retcon thing now.
Speaking of the big G. How did Grindelwald become a husky-eyed fauxbino? Maybe too much polyjuice. In the Harry Potter movies he was your standard British character actor. Couldn’t JK kept with the No Americans rule?
Did this movie somehow take the position that Magic Nazis wanted to prevent WWII?
How poorly contrived and overly complicated was the switched/drowned baby story? I love Rowling’s storytelling, but she’s gotten too big for an editor. She’s crossed the Lucas horizon.
So, is Dumbledore’s long lost, previously-never mentioned brother now the anti-Potter?
I get it, I’m old. I’m a parent. All I hear all day is the soundtrack to Hamilton blaring from the kids’ rooms and my cranky old man podcasts. (Although, I’ve started letting my 10 year-old listen to The Adventure Zone, and he’s hooked. He’s f-bomb aware and pretty disciplined about that, so don’t question my parenting. My parenting is amazing, obviously.)
What I mean to say is that it is rare that I listen to relatively new music, let alone come across it on my own. Aussie psychedelic/prog (is that fair, prog?) rock champions King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard were completely beneath my radar until I happened to find them on YouTube–my daily work background noise is usually ambient or some synthwave variant megamix that I can put on for a few hours.
So, what’s new to me? Other than this new WordPress “block” interface, that is. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard has some old school concept rock sensibilities, yet remains fresh. Normally, this sort of thing wears out quickly for me.
Nonagon Infinity, however, has been on heavy rotation on my godforsaken morning drive each morning. It came out in ’16–but, like I said, new to me. It is inherently re-listenable, as its central conceit is that all the songs are designed–if that’s the word for it–to dovetail into the next one regardless of what order the album is played.