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17 things ‘Avengers: Endgame’ teaches us about the state of our superheroes


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“AVENGERS, ASSEMBLE!” We’ve followed the antics of our caped crusaders for many moons now and the cliff-hanger final instalment of the franchise brought it all to a head… In real life, however, the anti-climax to which our powers that be have come has been less than cinematic and more problematic for a fandom grown angry, bitter, cold, despairing, etc. – for all the good that our villains and antiheroes in government have done for us while playing to their own Endgame

Art imitates life. Even movies do. Maybe especially so. In these lean times, there’s nothing like a little laughter to stop the press, stem the blood pressure, ease that stress in life. So here goes. Trust you’ll take these tongue-in-cheek. Or perhaps not.

 

1. OUT OF THE BLUE 

Carol Danvers rescues the stranded Tony Stark and Nebula – when all hope is gone and the situation is at its bleakest a million light years from nowhere. So don’t forget Captain Marvel is still out there somewhere and can come to the rescue at any time.

In SL: A country at large is still in shock at the recent cataclysm and feeling rather lost. The executive and the legislature playing ducks and drakes with their democratic mandate. An independent judiciary being slapped in the face by presidential pardons of errant mischief-makers. Yes, we’re well and truly stranded. Now the question is who will play Carol Danvers to our Stark fate… US Ambassador Alaina Teplitz and her reassurance that there will be no permanent military base in Sri Lanka? NZ Premier Jacinda Ardern and her denial that the Christchurch bombings have anything to do with our predicament, leaving our state defence ministers looking a tad, well, Nebulous? No, my friends! It still looks very much like all hope is gone and our situation is still looking rather bleak. 

 

2. TIME WILL TELL 

Five years after an event, Scott Lang a.k.a. Ant-Man escapes from the Quantum Realm where he was trapped and shows up to join and help the Avengers – so in time, all things heal; time is the great healer: time heals all wounds.

It’s not quite five years yet. But tell me one worker ant in our colony who doesn’t wish the late great event – that so-called ‘January Revolution’ – hadn’t occurred quite the way it did? Feels like we’ve been trapped in some quantum realm of our own since the democratic-republicans assumed the reins of power. (Once upon a time, which is how all fairytales start, we used to call it ‘Good Governance’). Now – with a president making mincemeat of his posterity, a prime minister failing to beef up his flagging profile much less his presidential prospects, and politicians of all stripes acting the goat and behaving worse than headless chickens – it’s not that time heals all wounds, but that time wounds all heels. (A ‘heel’, for the uninitiated, is a morally reprehensible person.)

 

3. LOSS OF CONTROL 

An enraged Thor decapitates Thanos – even the noblest gods have their abysmal moments, driven by anger and the sheer dark despair of their predicament.

Quick! If you envisage a monster at whose snap of the fingers (gloved in a bejewelled gauntlet) half of human life could disappear, who do you see? Well, yes, OK, MR – in a past incarnation (gaudy rings to rule them all, and all). But today, the only ogre whose ugliness rouses the ire of the godly is MS. It is a great pity that the only ‘decapitation’ the people can do is to lose their heads and honk their horns loudly and long… as our head of state – or some other headless chicken – drives by in convoy, having blithely held up their masters the citizens of Sri Lanka. So who will knock some sense into the servants of the people? A judiciary did so last year. It is still not too late – though given the excesses since then, it may be too little – to try a little tough love… impeachment, anyone? Off the top of my head, no! The way the putative ‘good guys’ of old are going about governance, I’d save our anger to be vented against them too, when the day for knocking heads off the block comes round again. 

 

4. A CHANGE OF HEART 

Tony Stark initially refuses to help the Avengers. But after talking to his wife – no surprise there: it’s ‘Pepper’ Potts – he relents and agrees to do so; eventually stumbling serendipitously upon a model for the time machine they ultimately use.

One can’t help but wonder if there is a retired ‘Avenger’ out there who’ll change his mind and return to the run of things to right all our wrongs. Of course, the wronged Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka comes to mind. On the other hand, any mantle he assumes may only transport us back to a regime where might was right? So let’s court-martial that thought at least for now! 

 

5. BEST OF BOTH WORLDS 

Dr Bruce Banner has managed to merge his intelligence as a scientist with the Incredible Hulk’s brute strength and seems a better balanced individual now – if a little less likeable because he’s more full of himself than the humble beast of old.

Dear gods of Asgard, let us not draw a parallel between this cinematic nod to Professor Hulk and any strongman-bureaucrat who’s recently thrown his hat in the ring. It’s tempting to think that the latter’s experience as a former defence secretary will combine well with his newfound social conscience. But that may be like his supporters (there are still some) wanting to like an opportunist simply because he did not orchestrate the conditions that gave rise to his candidature. Sorry – “Hulk angry! Hulk smash!” holds true now as then, as it probably will in any alternate future where ‘Gamma Ray Gota’ becomes Goon-in-Chief. 

 

6. BACK TO THE FUTURE 

Dr Bruce Banner – in the course of working with Iron Man to streamline the time machine – warns that changing the past does not affect the present or fix the future; instead it opens up streams of alternate realities.

Again, let’s not go there. We can never fix the past of its egregious nature. Let’s not open the can of wormholes that leads us into a brave new world where everything is bleaker than before.

 

7. HOW THE MIGHTY ARE FALLEN 

In the Asgardian refugees’ earthly home of New Asgard in Norway, the once noble mighty Thor is a flabby overweight alcoholic despondent over his failure to stop Thanos in time and in denial about the pretty pass that his psyche has come to.

I would never in a million years imagine our prime minister as anything less than sober, although he has gone to pot a bit over the years. But more to the point is his slack-jawed slouching over bringing the plug-uglies of the former regime to court and book. Since it looks unlikely that he’ll gate Gota or mar MR’s prospects of a future premiership, we can only assume that Ranil will (sooner than later, one feels) retire hurt. However ‘not cricket’ be the game he’s playing – and has been playing since he came to the crease – we wish him well and want the best in therapy for him in his golden years. Therefore the niggling hope that before he goes, he will bring MS at least to heel… #TimeWoundsAllHeels 

 

8. FAMILY VALUES 

Thanos uses his adoptive daughter past-Nebula to send her back to the future posing as future-Nebula to sabotage the Avengers and enable him to travel in time to destroy their base.

Did anyone else see an uncanny resemblance between an ambitious MR and an aggressive Thanos? And the way he uses family to further his ends – while seeming sanguine at the public’s interpretation that his family are using him for their own nefarious purposes? Anyone? No? All right, then.

 

9. IT’S NO SACRIFICE AT ALL 

When the Soul Stone’s keeper, the Red Skull, reveals that in order retrieve it the Avengers must sacrifice someone they love – “a soul in exchange for a soul” – Natasha Romanoff, the Black Widow, sacrifices herself despite Clint Barton as Hawkeye’s every attempt to save her and substitute himself instead.

As MR himself once said – laughingly, when some naïve reporter asked him if the leaders in government would resign after the appalling security lapses of a month ago – “This is Sri Lanka. Do you think it could ever happen here?” Well, do you? Go on with you, O romantic!

 

10. A THREEFOLD CORD 

Ironman, Captain America and the Mighty Thor fight Thanos together but are outmatched.

To revert to the symbolic for a moment: If you take the independent commissions to be Ironman, civil society as Captain America and see a courageous judiciary in the Mighty Thor… is it far-fetched to see the ogre or outrageous executives being eventually defeated by this triumvirate of Avengers?

 

11. SEND IN THE CAVALRY 

When Thanos summons his army to devastate the Earth, it is only the return of Dr. Strange – in the company of the restored missing Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy and the combined armies of Asgard and Wakanda – that staves off another Ragnarok.

If you subscribe to the scenario in 10. above, perhaps you could add the subversive element of social media as Dr. Strange; the long-silent academics and professionals as the legions of Asgard and Wakanda; conscientised clergy like the Cardinal and the Church of Ceylon as the Guardians of the Galaxy; and a revitalised business community as the re-emergent Avengers once thought to be dead. OK, I know it’s a long shot… But we’re running out of options – and time – here… So get with the programme already!

 

12. ALL IT TAKES IS ONE 

Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel proves that she is the mightiest Avenger after all when she singlehandedly destroys Thanos’ dreadnaught spaceship.

You’re thinking Dhammika Perera in the role… right? Wrong. For one, there’s gaps in his resume – just like Ms Marvel a.k.a. Warbird. For another, it’s just another robber baron, no?

 

13. PAYING THE PRICE OF PLAYING HERO 

Where Bruce Banner as the Hulk failed, it is puny human Tony Stark’s Ironman who culls the infinity stones and ensures victory with a snap of his gauntleted fingers – but only at the cost of his life.

Where have all the good men gone and where are all the gods? Yeah, Bonnie Tyler, that’s what we wanna know too!

 

14. A SEA CHANGE 

Thor appoints Valkyrie as the ‘king’ of New Asgard.

If you’re thinking Ranil has a change of heart and yields his throne to Sajith or Karu… think again. This monarch stirring up apathy wherever he goes thinks his JD as PM is for life (“until death do us part” etc.)

 

15. LOVE’S LABOUR LOST 

Quill searches for Gamora from 2014.

Media and civil society looking for the real avatar of Good Governance! Methinks 2014 is not far back enough to go. Maybe back to the future is only a pipedream and we’re living in an alternate reality already – where the US is really and truly the Guardian of the Galaxy? Not.

 

16. LOVE IS THE DEATH OF DUTY 

Steve Rogers as Captain America returns the Infinity Stones and the mighty Uru hammer Mjolnir to their original places in time. But rather than return to the present he chooses to remain in the past with the love of his life Peggy Carter.

Can we relegate the executive presidency to the dustbin of history and resume our long-forgotten love affair with the Westminster system or a hybrid thereof? Wait… too late… 

 

17. PASS THE BATON 

An elderly Steve Rogers shows up in the present to pass on his Captain America shield to Sam Wilson the Avenger known as Falcon.

Not in a million years. But art only imitates life. And this ain’t it. 

(Journalist | Editor-at-large of LMD | Writer #SpeakingTruthToPower)


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