Review of Avengers: Infinity War



"Avengers: Infinity War" brings to bear a connivance – our willingly accepting a purge; our warranting that we've earned it – we ourselves may bring to the fore, in real life, as an alternative to a worse fate we sense could be upcoming on our horizon. 

The plot seems similar to "X-Men: Apocalypse" in that a grand tyrant appears in view with plans to cull huge portions of humanity, but not all: one batch of living souls will live, the other, perish. In that film, we note, the tyrant, too, believes his cause justified, but the film itself never gives him beyond partial support – his wiping out of humanity rests on his belief that humanity is bad, and the film shows him, with its showcasing of humanity's nuclear arsenal, as having a bit of a case there, but also because they are "false gods," i.e., weak, which is evidently Hitleresque. 

In "Infinity War," the tyrant, Thanos, is never undermined as not possessing a deeper sense of what the universe, of what humanity, actually really may need. He argues that unless he culls half the living creatures from the universe, each civilization will proceed past its peak into a very horrible, very cruel, decrepitude and oblivion. It's what happened to his planet. A society at total peak, and then on to total fail. We also notice, with so many of his opponents having their chance to deface him as nothing more than a homicidal maniac, that they almost seem to be using what is readily available to them – that you don't have to consider an opponent, at all, when their methods are of a certain kind... "we don't negotiate with terrorists" – to not ever show him up as wrong in his conjecture of what awaits us unless he acts, now. What we are, the film suggests, are people who have an arsenal of ways of removing anything out of the way with plans to interrupt our everyday pleasures; everything that bespeaks possible interference with how we're accommodating ourselves, the worldview that sustains us, profits us, works for us, is racist, sexist, deplorable... tyrannical, and pluck!, authoritatively out of the way as never needing be considered. 

However, the film sets up considering our lambasting of him within a framework in which we do, do in fact consider the possible righteousness of his goal, that is. Endless lambasting of an opponent as cruel and unloving becomes suspect when the receiver of the abuse is "parental" and the launcher of them, "adolescent." James F. Masterson proclaimed that the once universally accepted conception of adolescence as inevitably involving combat with one's parents, was not actually inevitably true to life at all, but the film presumes that most of us are still prepared to locate ourselves as if we accept it as if it had never known a counter. To be adolescent, is to be like the character Groot, the tree-like alien, who is an adolescent, and who petulantly won't stop playing his games even when his "parents" rightly are admonishing him to, for something really quite serious may lay ahead. To be adolescent in this film, is to be like GamoraThanos's daughter, and proclaim that one's parent had displayed through their confused and frustrating reaction to them that they surely had no love for them at all, surely didn’t really love anybody, actually. And to be a parent in this film, is to be Thanos, who reveals through his tears that he never forgets how hurt he was to be confronted by a daughter who never ceased to tell him how much she hated the home he had brought her back to, how much she despised him, and to be confirmed by a neutral, all-seeing judge, that he had in fact never loved and prized anyone more than he ever-did her. 

Within this framework, the adolescent who continues to hate their parent is misjudged, wrong, and Masterson argues that unless they acknowledge their error, somehow show as they "mature" that their parents were right and farseeing and they, actually proven to having been ignorant and shortsighted... to having been, however innocently, very, very cruel, they'll face abandonment fears, suspicion of total loss of parental love, which will crush them. They must put the blame upon themselves, or their parents, whose love they still covet, will reject them. And so as soon as we recognize the parent-adolescent paradigm in play, that the film presumes that we share it / have “succumbed” to it, we know Thanos will be allowed all latitudes, possibly to win in his goal, and it's an end which we'll implicitly digest as something we’re not about to be eager to contest. Without exactly knowing it, this is what we may have wanted, we sense. The exactly right finish, however appalling, however truly unacceptable to us, even just a year or two ago. 

Thanos isn’t shown to even be a tyrant. He is sincere when he says that once he’s accomplished his grand cull he’ll depart out of view, not into the sunset, but close: to spend his days at a lakeside cabin, melancholically enjoying observing one. He’s not interested in lording over anyone; everyone who remains, he actually hopes thrives and profits: Thanos is ever-seeing much that is commendable in the people trying to kill him. Not with Loki, perhaps, but certainly yes so with Tony Stark, and certainly yes so with Peter Quill – good lads these, he decrees. That is, he hopes for them that they continue doing what they were doing, if they wish -- it wasn’t their growth that bothered him, the prosperity, their interest in expanding their known reach... having babies, making new commitments, having/being girlfriends/boyfriends... even to his own daughter, only the fact of too much overall accrued growth itself, for it tips the scales, you see. 

So presumably what he’d have for them is that they do as they were, have the sweet niceties – acquiring for their own countries their own "Starbucks" chains, as some hope for; having tasty "Ben and Jerry" ice-cream flavors named after them, as some have already received – as well as the more substantial things, saved even the need to hide what in fact it doesn't take much of a detective to sleuth out, really probably is a huge deal to them. Tony Stark, who always loved/lived for his toys, wouldn’t ostensibly have to camouflage his next subsequent toy that is the same scale of awesome as his newly developed nanotech suit is, as just an accessory to filling out a more important thing: the serious adult conversation he is having with his wife Pepper about whether maybe he's ready now for a child. Thor wouldn’t have to camouflage his acquiring an update of his previous epic weapon, one to better fit his morphing self-image into the "rugged," more "alt-ish" figure he is becoming, and one at least as powerful, and seemingly more so, than his mighty hammer, with it only existing as, not a permanent accompaniment, but the only thing in the universe which could kill Thanos... some kind of single-purpose, one-time-only deal. He also wouldn’t have to camouflage that one of the things that was supposed to permanently scar him but that he gained status from, a sign of un-takeawayable maturity – his loss of his eye – is quickly, conveniently (Rocket just had to have one in his pocket?...), replaced by another eye, posing as mere device, mere means, where a fox-captain, where Rocket, can maturely effect his role as captain and make some attempt to console his shipmate’s many losses through a kindly given gift: not an example of having it all, but ostensibly of duty, care, and selflessness. Peter Parker wouldn’t have to camouflage his acquiring the mighty Avenger-status by having it done to him without any lead-up, where he didn't have to show it was on his mind at all as something he much, brass-tacks, cared about/wanted, above just being decent and immediately prepared to help and serve, but rather the way it was put forward previously in the series, as something that would mark such a huge realization of self "you" might find ways to hold "yourself" back from it because "you’re" not sure if it’s even allowed: "Masterson’s" "spider-sensing" the due abandonment depression, in its presumably marking his leaving his Aunt May-existence completely for the adult world of the Avengers, it might bring. They could have the wonderful pads they all seem to have – we don't see any not-cool places they are forced to inhabit, only posh castle-homes, posh apartments... posh futuristic cities, and leisurely, perfectly re-cooperative, countryside farming dwellings, complemented in this case with ample authoritative humps of quieting hay – without summoning at least a reminder that some of them had spent the last few years in, as the Falcon delineates for us, "not exactly five-star hotels." 

Yes, half of them would be in the midst of pursuing this and then, poof, gone out of existence for them, with nothing of their reaching, extending hopes realized at all, only their dangling out there as suddenly-caught-off-guard-terminated-hope-stumps's... and there would be no way to check in advance if you'd be amongst these or not; completely random. But I think when this is presented to us at the finish we're actually ready to accept this, for ourselves, even as it's a terrible updating of our previous measure of keeping our equilibrium amongst the strain of knowing that in many ways, the world ever-progresses, ever-moves, beyond restraints, which was that, because we've allowed ourselves to size up some other group – the "deplorables" -- as those who are directed to serve as the suffering, the only suffering, which won't spill out into us because they're the only ones truly deserving, we might be amongst the ones who are always accommodating ourselves to/enjoying the fruits rather feeling left out. But we know we have to bring it home now, suffer the possibility that we could be plucked from the world of relevance too: as we go further-on into our trepidatiously ever-accruing lives, internal "judges," parental alters... actually mostly MATERNAL alters, embedded in our brains' right hemispheres, are looking with every more scrutiny, and are demanding we accept higher stakes or be revealed as not being genuine in our willingness to be subject to pain/loss – to maybe being pretend-alongs the whole time, like all the multitudes of ostensible heavy trauma-sufferers we see in the film, whose listing of abuses have become nothing more than a neutral platform everyone shares and presumes upon which real experience – inevitably rich, new, promising and exciting: a lot of new friends and interesting interminglings of identities are undertaken in this film – is built upon, no more suggestive of anything itself deep than a floor mat is for its "launch," the life of vibrant gymnastic performances. 

We've already taken upon ourselves, willingly, this scourge. #MeToo is simply about redemption for victims and societal progress for many, but amongst the many who don't rejoice in it, who are scared by it, not all of them wish it would disappear off the planet, not all of them identify it as a wholly unwelcome witch-hunt. Many of them identity it, like Thanos's cause, like his willingness to undertake a lonely knight's quest which will involve his being committed to sacrificing the only thing he loves, as something old-school in its seriousness, in its being densely concentrated in its identity as only about restoration of a long-tilted scale back to some semblance of balance. In this case, in our case, a long-tilted scale which we know had allowed abusers to pretty much go about lives afterword as if no universal power actually had any problem at all with endless, unrebutted, murderous fun: the point of life could successfully be for some, to use, abuse, gorge – and boy oh boy, to very much enjoy! All without drawback. We need to see it be shown that we know ourselves to be suspect enough that this is a plague we'd have actually have welcomed in, even if progressives weren't around to make is seem all-theirs for the tremendous power and angry righteous fight behind their push. We do this in judging that if tomorrow #MeToo took us in, pointed its "finger" at us, as we were enjoying the peak of our lives, we'd judge it, fair cop, and succumb. 

Without accepting "Thanos," or as he's being applied – there will be other forms – currently through our own real universe with #MeToo, the alternative would be for us that we would lose our selves, a terrible and complete giving in, on our part. We would allow ourselves no means to justify our continuing on in making our future something open, genuinely, if not anywhere near max-inspiring level, to the new, and morph into those who see all that is new as evil, and all that stops it, our welcome friend. In a nutshell, we'd all become Kanye and come to see Trump as our Captain America, and think he's opening us up to the new and exciting, the revelatory... old grandeur returned but in spangling new form. This is what we fear, what Kanye horribly is presenting us with right now -- someone who was totally with us, part of us, and then, completely not so -- and this would not mark our being an agent of any true individuality, only that we've had to finally kill that part of ourselves that strove for it for the only existence now being being a component of expanding wrath: count ourselves subsumed, part of the angry parental entity returned, part of our returning mother, so we're not absolutely destroyed in being borne down as its target. Better than not existing at all? Something only in our biology is telling us that. 

Last thing, three of the four baddies in this film, baddies who unlike Thanos are simply ALL bad, are dispatched to some extent through some other agency. Cold space is what really kills the first villain; being hefted into the air to be dispatched by a Kawanda energy field, which we're happy to call of our side but which we'd never presume total ownership over as if it was OUR tool, is what kills the second; and being lifted into the air and so squashed by a titanic military machine of the enemy's that's just arrived, is how the third gets dispatched. The Avengers facilitate the menace belonging to some other grand other (we're not awesome; THAT THING is); as much as they try and fail to puncture-wound Thanos to death, only once do they actually spear or blast or smash any of their key foes to their defeat. The overall effect of being so fleet-of-foot in how they dispatch their foes, so dance-around, so alley-oopish, so modest, is to subliminally lend a sense that the Avengers are of a mood to, at the finish, be agreeable to downplay here, to accumulate, yes, but then also starkly tail off... even to lose, is my sense.* None of these particular foes were Thanos. Perhaps with the Wizard, Thanos's most powerful child, there was some reason to make him normally unstoppable without being enterprising in how one engages with him, but, really, none of them were that alpha, that outside the range of the Avengers' powers -- it wouldn't have been laughable had Iron Man's new blasters actually served to bring down the Wizard, or for Banner in the Hulk-matching Iron Man suit to take down another, or for the two elite woman warriors to have speared the last one through, as she had to navigate her way through two opponents easily as battle-competent as she, but the grand finishing-offs were lent elsewhere, to where REAL might was located. To me, this is not a coincidence but an indicator of film, of our, mood... manifest by our obvious turnabout into the suddenly abundantly generous, that maybe something like guilt for genuinely indecorous things about our past, who've we've been, what we've done... what we're still doing, is determining how we present ourselves to the world now. 

* They activate a lot in this film, come into their own. Peter Parker going from earthbound Avenger-want-a-be to space-aloft, full-on, viciously effective Avenger, accommodating new abilities on the fly, and very ably at that, is literally a young person reaching through into the space of the new. Thor, letting the power of a full sun bear down on him, seems to go beyond being a great Asgardian towards being more a Celestial, a primordial power. Bruce Banner, in not utilizing the anger of the Hulk but his own courage and innovativeness to make do without him, in HULK'S OWN arena of expertise, is in no sense the scientist he was in the first Avengers' film, where he could handle slums but flinched on board military ships, a fish out of water. All mighty acts of activation, but nonetheless, each performing them noticeably desist in claiming to themselves, total ownership of glory. 





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