In “Avengers: Infinity War,” Marvel Gives Up On Optimism

In “Avengers: Infinity War,” Marvel Gives Up On Optimism

Here there be spoilers! And economic analysis!

There are a number of things I don’t like about Avengers: Infinity War. Here’s one of them.

The villain, Thanos, gets many opportunities to explain what he wants and why he’s doing what he’s doing. Thanos believes that there aren’t enough resources to go around in the universe, and so he is out to end suffering by killing half of the universe at random. At first, he pursued this goal with military invasions. Now he’s decided to finish the job more quickly by collecting all of the infinity stones and thereby gaining the power to murder half the universe with just a snap of his fingers. Thanos honestly believes that the surviving half of the universe will thank him for this.

Now I’m all for stories with villains who think they’re doing the right thing. I’m all for thought-provoking alternative solutions to the world’s problems, and for moral grey areas.

But there is nothing thought-provoking about Infinity War, because at no point does anyone put any thought into countering Thanos’s argument. The film shows scene after scene of Thanos politely and calmly explaining himself, and at times even crying about how much he’s suffered on his mission to murder billions of people.

In a movie, especially one with so many characters, every scene counts. With under three hours at your disposal, what you choose to devote minutes to matters.

The result of Infinity War spending so much time on Thanos, and allowing Thanos’s arguments to go unquestioned, is the feeling that we should agree with Thanos that genocide is the answer to lack of resources.

There is one scene – one scene – in which a character tells Thanos he is wrong. Gamora says that she and her people were happy on their world before Thanos killed half of them. But this argument is given zero credibility. Gamora says it in the middle of a rant about how much she hated living with Thanos (a scene that is framed like an immature child throwing a tantrum at her father, instead of a victim standing up to her abuser – but that’s a rant for another day). And Thanos immediately tells Gamora that she’s wrong, and the scene leaves it at that. The “genocide is the answer” argument is allowed to stand, presented as the “mature” response to the universe’s problems.

And that is what makes me mad: Infinity War presents the thesis that the most rational response to hunger and poverty is mass genocide.

Maybe I wouldn’t be as mad if this film was just talking about Earth. This is an argument that people in reality make – that overpopulation is to blame for suffering, that there aren’t enough resources on Earth to go around. We are draining our planet, and it’s easy to blame numbers.

But this isn’t about just Earth. It’s about the entire universe.

Infinity War would have me believe that no one in the entire universe – and this is the Marvel universe, where there are thousands of planets and sentient species, where brilliant people create new technology and elements to make the world a better place, where there is literally magic that can completely alter reality no one in this universe has figured out sustainable living.

Infinity War’s screenwriters have called this film “mature,” quoted here. They have said that this movie is the “culmination,” what every Marvel Studios movie before this one has been building up to over the past almost-twenty films, quoted here.

But none of the people that Marvel Studios has spent twenty movies showing are brilliant, caring problem-solvers ever once says, “Wait – one seventh of the world uses half of the world’s resources! There IS enough to go around!” or “The answer to overpopulation isn’t murder, you jerk, it’s making sure people survive infancy!”

(Please watch the Hans Rosling TedTalks that discuss those statements in more detail. They’re both barely ten minutes long. The resource distribution one is here and the overpopulation one is here.)

Instead, these “brilliant” heroes are made to look absolutely pathetic and thoughtless in the face of the Thanos, whose point of view is presented as both sympathetic and rational, when there is nothing close to morally grey about it and there are multiple more rational responses.

Before the movie began, the theatre played a preview for Deadpool 2. At one point, Deadpool quips, “So dark. You sure you’re not from the DC universe?”

Until now, Marvel Studios’ defining factor from other superhero franchises has been its optimism, its repeated statements that smart people working together will overcome obstacles. Infinity War throws that optimism and faith in intelligence and camaraderie away, in the name of “maturity.” It’s hard for me to see this movie as the story that every other movie has been building up to when its message is the antithesis of the message of every other Marvel movie. And I flat-out can’t see genocide as morally grey.

Cover Image Credit: Marvel Studios

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9 Reasons You're Still In Love With Tim Riggins In 2019

Clear eyes. Full hearts.

If you're a Friday Night Lights fan, you know very well who Tim Riggins is. And if you've never seen the show, he's basically just the bad boy football star and sensitive hottie of your dreams, all wrapped into one heart-throbbing package. If you haven't already fallen under the Tim Riggins spell, you're about to...

1. He's the star running back of the Dillon Panthers.

Basically every girl who has walked this earth has fantasized about having that cliche football relationship. No shame. #33 on the field, #1 in my heart.

2. He's actually really sensitive.

Tim Riggins may seem hard and dysfunctional on the outside, but he's really just a big softie. He's no JD McCoy, who grew up lavishly and extremely fortunate; Tim had a rough upbringing. He and his brother, Billy, had to work hard all by themselves just to stay above water, which is most likely what keeps him so grounded and humbled.

3. He loves kids.

Tim didn't even think twice about taking his neighbor under his wing when he moved in next door. And for some reason, there's just somethin' about cute boys holding babies that makes us girls swoon.

4. He's genuine and honest.

Sure, maybe he took advantage of his football-star status and slept with most of the rally girls, but once he fell in love with Lyla we saw his compassionate side. (You probably envied Lyla and maybe even hated her for a while because of it...I know I did.)

5. He knows how to have a good time.

It's 5 o'clock somewhere.

6. He's a family man.

Tim took the blame for his brother's crime and went to prison for it...if that's not loyalty then I don't know what is.

7. He's affectionate.

If you either hate Lyla or you want to be Lyla or a combination of the both, you are not alone.

8. He's protective.

Probably the only time you've ever wanted to be in a tornado was when you watched the episode where he shielded Julie from flying debris.

9. He's beautiful.

You're welcome for blessing you with this GIF.

May you all find your own Tim Riggins. Amen.

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