Monday, May 13, 2019

Our Modern Myths: 10 Years with the MCU

I have held off posting this, or writing it really, until enough weeks had passed that I was hopeful my musings wouldn't spoil anything for those who have yet to see Avengers: Endgame.  That said, I have no intentions of purposefully spoiling anything, but I might end up strongly hinting and you are smart people.  So, if you haven't seen it, and hope to still be surprised, come back later.

On its opening weekend my daughter and I went to see Avengers: Endgame with quite grand expectations.  A little over three hours, some tears, shouts of joy, and an overwhelming feeling of triumph later, my expectations were exceeded.  This film was brilliantly done and viscerally satisfying.  In the grandest of spectacle and with the most intimate of emotion, 10 years of movie making magic culminated on screen and I was enthralled.

So, it's pretty obvious that I am a fan.  I have been since the moment Robert Downy Jr. first walked on screen in Ironman—and while it is certainly true that one of the major reasons for my being a fan is that over the years these movies have entertained me, I think it goes a bit deeper than that.  You see, I am of the opinion that these comic book movies and the comics from which they were conceived, amount to our modern day myths and legends.  What is amazing about this statement, which I fully accept is not a novel concept, is that we get to witness our legends and myths in a way ancient people could have never conceived.  For us, these character move beyond the grand oral traditions, even beyond the printed word and become fully realized versions first in brilliant art work in the pages of comics and now, 52 feet tall on a silver screen.

Now, with the benefit of two or more millennia of science and general knowledge, unlike the Romans, the Ancient Greeks, or the Ancient Egyptians, we of course do not believe that Tony Stark and Captain America are real people.  Thor is not going to intervene in our physical lives and save us from some impending doom.  But somehow, that doesn't make a difference.  In the part of our brains that tell us 2 plus 2 is 4, we know there is not Wakanda, and yet, we can still feel like there is.  These modern legends are able to reflect the best part our humanity and fill us with inspiration, with hope, and strength.  Through these characters we experience what it would be like to give everything to save the world or universe, to realize what it means to be a hero, and to accept mantles of greatness in our own lives.  It's through these characters that we hear gems like "With great power comes great responsibility," and the line from Endgame that still has me deep in thought and reflection "Everyone fails at who they're supposed to be, Thor.  The measure of a person, of a hero, is how well they succeed at being who they are."

I look forward to what comes next in the MCU, and I will always be fan, but Endgame felt like an end, and certainly a moment for reflection on what has been a wild and wonderful ride.  So thank you Robert Downy Jr., John Favreau, the Cohen brothers, Keven Feige, and all the amazing actors, directors and artists who helped create the MCU.  And a special thanks to Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and all the wonderful story tellers who gave us something incredible to believe in while managing to entertain, to delight, and inspire wonder.

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