David Bordwell makes a good argument against allowing movies to stand in for the zeitgeist. I don’t think he’s wrong generally (although I do think he’s wrong in a lot of his supporting points) and his argument is a decent corrective to some of the wild and often silly speculations MSM critics employ to talk about popular film culture.
Still, it also allows academics like Bordwell to avoid addressing politics at all, which leads to other kinds of wild speculations and ones that are far more dangerous — that political culture and ideology have nothing whatsoever to do with the way movies are made, marketed, and received. As if how audiences make sense of movies has nothing to do with the political, social, economic, and moral contexts people inhabit and within which they create meaning. These claims are always going to be bullshit reflecting the biases of those claiming it, of course.
So it’s hard not to be suspicious of a film, one of the most popular in film history, that manages to convince most of us that the best way to oppose and defeat a tyrant is to adopt his exact methods, down to the micro-gesture of snapping one’s fingers, all while making the tyrant as cool (as stoic!) and as sexy as possible. The film normalizes this equivalency partialy by consistenting flattering our liberal sensibilities with the first-ever gay man in a Marvel movie (type the obsequious exclamation point here!) and ample examples of powerful women-heroes. Don’t mistake me, I was right there cheering, too, at least inside.
But also don’t forget, as we’re asked to do and not just by Marvel movies, our enemies have souls, too. Are Thanos’ followers willing or are they slaves, as some of the gear suggests and as Thanos’ history suggests? Perhaps they are simply deluded or deceived and therefore worthy of redemption, as Gamora and Nebula were? Some of the creatures that Stark disappears are beasts, clearly. Alien animal rights don’t score points with us yet.
Iron Man doesn’t give a fuck about anything except his teammates, his side, his righteousness, his legacy.
[Film] Twitter doesn’t either but then Twitter is a zero-sum game, too.
For a satirical antidote to Endgame, watch Amazon Prime’s The Boys. Ou Chronique. Both are more honest responses to the problem of super-heroes.
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