I still hate Avengers: Endgame despite the hate tweets

To the corporation, lowest common denominator = high profit.

By Aditya Sinha

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Published: Tue 14 May 2019, 7:00 PM

Last updated: Tue 14 May 2019, 9:31 PM

Indian Twitter is a noisy place of thin-skinned individuals fighting over things that matter little (like politics, for instance). I lately got a cyber-blast of nastiness after I paid Rs700 to watch Avengers: Endgame in IMAX and tweeted about it. The movie had a weak script, a predictable narrative, flat jokes, and a bland industrial quality. The first half was especially boring. It was a surprise because global media had hailed it as the epitome of mass entertainment with an emotionally satisfying end. Since social media is supposedly democratic and my voice counts as much as yours, I tweeted my opinion even if it went against the grain. It became a scene from a zombie movie where a survivor shouts out in a destroyed, desolate city only to find hordes of zombies rushing towards him.
The angry responses fell into several categories. First was the "but the movie has made over a billion dollars in its first week" argument, which is easily dismissed. McDonald's sells the most food in the world but there is no one in the world who would consider its burgers an elevated gastronomical delight. Even if I'm being a snob about fast food, consider this: would you order McDonald's to feed the guests at your sister's wedding? Then we're in agreement that though it sells "billions and billions" it is mediocre food, at best. So it is with Avengers: Endgame - that it made a mountain of money has no causal link with its quality or lack thereof.
Second was the charge that I probably didn't see the previous 21 movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), and that's why I didn't enjoy Avengers: Endgame. This is an odd presumption. I've not only seen most of the MCU films - okay, okay, I admit that I didn't see Captain Marvel despite my younger daughter's urging - but I've also seen much of the DC comics cinematic universe. Yet even if I hadn't seen all the previous MCU films - and frankly, Avengers: Age of Ultron gave me a headache with its nonstop explosions, while Avengers: Infinity War seemed completely pointless - it's no excuse for not making a film a standalone enjoyable cinematic experience. Any work of art, and I confess that the word 'art' is being stretched here, ought to be enjoyed on its own, even if it's part of a larger whole. This applies to diverse art like 15th century oil triptychs and Mozart's nearly 90-minute Requiem  in D Minor.
The best Marvel comics film I've ever seen is Logan, in which Wolverine and Professor X are foul-mouthed old men in a bleak and pessimistic future narrative: you don't need the backstory to enjoy it fully. And if you were to argue that Endgame was basically Infinity Wars part 2, then one could say that the two movies ought to have been combined and tightened into, even, a four-hour experience.
Third, many youngsters on twitter counselled me to stay home and ask my cable operator to telecast religious TV channels like Satsang TV, since Avengers is not meant for the elderly. This is silly, not just because I never watch religious TV, but also because any good movie should appeal to an individual with sensitivity and intelligence, no matter their age. I agree that a film with mature themes or about an adult drama is unlikely to appeal to eight-year-old boys, but I can attest that the Toy Story series of films appealed to individuals of all ages. Worse, however, was the ageist subtext to what such people tweeted (some called me uncleji), but I suppose it's inevitable in a crass and vulgar society immune to upbringing, good manners or rehabilitation.
As a matter of fact, I watched Avengers: Endgame with my son and he did not like it either, invalidating the ageist arguments. He felt the film was much like pop music. Pop music, in his opinion, was boring because it played safe, never took risks, and appealed to the lowest common denominator.
I couldn't agree more. To the corporation, lowest common denominator = high profit. This was clear recently with the 2017 Star Wars: The Last Jedi, that I loved. It was refreshingly different from the previous Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which felt like just a retread of the original Star Wars. The Last Jedi broke character expectations and took narrative chances, all while sticking to the basic space opera. Despite such artistic leaps of faith, it was denounced by diehard Star Wars fans as subversive and treacherous.
Well I too am a diehard fan, but not part of the horde. The crowd doesn't like that, as my Avengers: Endgame tweet showed: social media revels in stampeding individual taste. The herd is no cure, however, for loneliness
Aditya Sinha is a senior journalist in India, and author, most recently, of 'India Unmade: How the Modi government broke the economy'

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