I think it’s safe to assume that 2020 has been challenging to say the least. The whole world has faced its share of travesty and heartbreak. For those privileged enough to stay safe in isolation and quarantine, you might have torn through every movie catalogue and streaming service you could find. But have you considered revisiting Marvel’s “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame”? (Major spoilers ahead.)
Some of us are over the whole Infinity Saga, maybe even films in general. Going to the movies isn’t really an option right now, except for drive-ins. There’s no spectacle in the media, nothing really stirring up excitement among the masses as far as cinematic pictures go. When I think back on my theatergoing days before COVID-19, I think of the cultural phenomenon that were those two “Avengers” movies.
It’s a little bittersweet thinking of the experiences I shared with my friends, popcorn and soda in our bellies, cheering among a packed crowd as our favorite heroes fought Thanos. It was lively and unlike any other movie-going experience I had. I’d like to take the time to examine what those movies did when they came out and how they can make a viewer feel now within the context surrounding this year. Allow me to throw around some concepts that these two films really hit home.
First, things start off kind of heavy with “Avengers: Infinity War.” Not in terms of the sequence of events toward the beginning, but of the stakes. Thanos wants to eradicate half of the entire universe. That can be a lot for a viewer currently going through the pandemic. People are losing their lives to an invisible menace, only we don’t have superheroes to save us. The people within the Marvel Cinematic Universe did, but they lost anyway. Heck, after revisiting “Infinity War,” I was choked up.
Even apart from the pandemic, I sometimes feel as though I am losing my own battles — battles I was certain I would win. When watching “Avengers: Infinity War” for the first time, especially if one isn’t familiar with the comics, people were certain the heroes would win like they always do. Up until that point they always had. Sometimes, however, heroes lose. Even the heroes we look up to.
I must address the Black Panther. After Chadwick Boseman’s tragic passing, watching the character he portrays so perfectly die after Thanos’ snap may be the last thing anyone wants to see right now. But experiencing Boseman’s devotion to the character is worth it. Plus, he returns to the fight in “Endgame.” Boseman embodied the character of T’Challa in many ways. From the moment Boseman enters “Infinity War,” he commands the screen.
Watching my favorite superhero, Spider-Man, wash away into dust felt hopeless. I think that’s a word we all have encountered during this year: hopeless. Who could have imagined the stresses we’d be under at this time last year? I don’t know about you, but I’m not a soothsayer. I was probably complaining about 2019, and I have not received the worst of this year by far. I can only imagine what others are going through right now.
Our heroes fight and fight hard, but Thanos is, in the end, inevitable. Our heroes lost. So, what story does “Endgame” decide to tell? Before triumph, “Endgame” shows our remaining heroes struggling with loss. Rings some bells I’m sure. We are all gripping with the reality that we are not invincible. Our priorities are having to shift and some are taking that better than others.
We see this with the case of Thor who has succumb to the weight of depression — which wasn’t intended to be a pun, but now it is. You could say Thor’s a little out of shape and his beard is a bit messier than the last time we saw him. While Chris Hemsworth plays Thor a little goofy because it’s all for humor, we might be able to relate to this on a personal level, right? Thor is dealing with loss.
Eventually our heroes find methods of reversing the effects of Thanos’ snap and we get an interesting take on time travel. But more importantly we learn of sacrifice and the challenges we must overcome within ourselves first, to win the fight at large. I know I’m being a little vague, but I want you to pick up on these themes as you re-watch it. But take a close look at each plot line we follow throughout the series and watch the amends each hero makes with themselves before they face the challenge ahead, particularly with the time travel sequence.
Toward the end of the movie our heroes reverse the snap, bringing back the lives lost in “Infinity War.” Together they join the fight against Thanos to save the universe and win. Which brings me to a final message that really hit home for me upon viewing: unity. Coming together to face the challenges of today.
That can mean many things to you. Maybe that’s fighting racial injustice, voting or doing your part to prevent further spread of the virus. Of course, there’s even more battles to face today and the challenges will continue to rise as we move out of 2020. But what we know, not just because of “Infinity War” and “Endgame,” but what we’ve always known, is we only stand a chance together.
Cherish the love of your support systems, lend a healthy hand to those in need, protect not only the ones you love, but anyone and everyone. We are all struggling, but we can all play our part in making the latter end of this year one of perseverance.
On a different note, if these movies don’t inspire you to do amazing things then that’s all right too. These movies are roller coasters chock-full of emotions and still worth a re-visit. Maybe, at the end of the night, all you really need is to relive some spectacle. Hopefully these films do just that for you.