AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR Delivers a Powerful State of the Union Address

Nine ways in which the Marvel epic comments on today’s America

It may be safe to say that no other movie this year will top Avengers: Infinity War in terms of media attention, audience popularity…and debate. On a personal level, I never knew it was ever possible to feel genuine sadness while simultaneously having such a good time as the result of one movie. It seems that the majority of people who have seen Infinity War feel the same way as the internet has become populated with one impassioned cry of disbelief after another from the most hardcore of Marvel fans.

One of the reasons I found the film so devastating was because of the way it spectacularly pulled the rug out from under the audience’s feet and depicted Marvel’s world and our world as eerily similar. As soon as the film ended, and in the days following the press screening I had attended, the various elements of Infinity War and their real world counterparts had imprinted themselves into my psyche, showing the country’s many problems for the true horrors that they are in one of the strongest and most harrowing examples of art imitating life. The resulting list shows the top nine ways in which Avengers: Infinity War have tellingly replicated 2018’s America for that comic book universe in what will surely go down as one of the most socially-conscious superhero movies of all time.

***Obligatory Warning for MAJOR Spoilers Ahead****

Thanos as the Marvel World’s Ultimate Villain

Today’s America is run by one of the most polarizing figures ever chosen to lead the country with many citizens still in disbelief over the fact that such a notion came to be. A similar sentiment is shared by the characters in Infinity War, all of whom find the rise of Thanos (Josh Brolin) to power unimaginable even after it becomes a reality. As the vast assortment of superheroes tries with all their might to bring Thanos down, they find themselves continuously taken aback by the force with which he is able to escape their collective strengths and proceed with his reign of chaos and destruction.

Father vs. Daughter

One of the most prevalent elements of today’s society is the division of once-loving families who have now come to blows over the current state of the country and who is to blame for it. This is illustrated with appropriate conflict and emotion in the relationship between Thanos and Gamora (Zoe Saldana) where whatever familial love and bond may have once been shared between the two is now replaced with a struggle of conscience and power as both have come to greatly symbolize the real-life division of sides between loved ones.

Deaths of Major Characters

Within the first several minutes, two beloved Marvel characters, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Heimdall (Idris Elba) perish with both Gamora and Vision (Paul Bettany) eventually following. Their ends shocked Marvel fans to the core with droves of audiences never thinking the studio would go that far with their characters. The deaths, caused by Thanos’s army of soldiers bears a frightening parallel to the many killings occurring throughout the country as a result of police brutality, with each more shocking than the last. A gutsy move on Marvel’s part for sure, but one which echoes the sentiment that no one is safe today.

Battle Over Infinity Stones

The highly sought after infinity stones are the subject of much of the death and disarray within Infinity War, bringing literally everyone to battle, in some instances even with the person in front of them, regardless of whose team they’re on. The stones signify the ultimate symbol of power for whoever holds them, with virtually every Thanos-loving cohort desperate to get their hands on the set. It’s hard not to sees the plot point speaking to the current debate surrounding assault weapons; specifically the damage they’re capable of and who exactly should be allowed to have such a powerful force in their hands.

Thanos’s Head Goon

It would be too easy to see Carrie Coon’s Proxima Midnight as Marvel’s version of some of the controversial female political figures making the news everyday. Her devotion to Thanos is unflinching as is her lack of hesitance and remorse when it comes to performing some of the movie’s most heinous acts. Yet it’s the character’s relentless penchant for carrying out Thanos’s mission at whatever cost possible, including that of manipulation, underhandedness and old-fashioned fear, that makes the comparison both spot on and justified.

United Fronts

One of the only positive consequences of Thanos’s destruction can be seen in the bringing together of Marvel characters who wouldn’t have otherwise teamed up. When Thanos’s reign of terror is unleashed, both the Guardians and The Avengers join forces, and push past rivalries aside in order to defeat him. It’s the same kind of action being seen in today’s world through the various social movements started by a variety of people from vastly different walks of life. Seeing the huge numbers of Americans getting involved through protests and demonstrations at this level in an effort to combat a shared enemy represents a time perhaps unparalleled in American history.

Girl Power!

In the current age of the Time’s Up and Me Too movements, women’s voices have never rang louder or more powerful than they do today. The swift bringing down of powerful abusers and attackers has seen a powerful shift in the social fabric of the times which cannot be denied and will surely never be reversed. It’s because of this that the mobilization of Infinity War’s female characters is so symbolic. If Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) doesn’t seem like she does much throughout the movie, it’s only because fellow Marvel sisters such as Nebula (Karen Gillan), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Okoye (Danai Gurira) also play a powerful part in trying to defeat the evil which threatens their world.

Some Worlds Don’t Change

Recently, it was revealed that July’s Ant-Man and the Wasp takes place before and during the events of Infinity War, angering a small handful of fans who question why Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) isn’t helping out his Marvel family and how they are supposed to find joy in the upcoming film after the devastation seen in this movie. This is indicative of the acts of many Americans today who are going about their daily routines; laughing and living despite the continuous news reports of the disastrous state of the other parts of the country. The revelation that Scott, Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) and Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) all make appearances in the next Avengers movie shows that, just as with real life, in times of darkness, everyone’s world is eventually affected.

“Mr. Stark, I don’t feel so good.”

The ending of Infinity War may go down as one of the biggest gut punches Marvel has ever asked its audience to endure. Seeing roughly half of the film’s many characters literally vanish before our eyes was painful to watch on every emotional level, surprising some with just how much these characters mean to us. Intentional or not, it’s all but impossible not to see this with the mental weight of the many shooting sprees which have plagued the country in recent times, turning places such as churches, nightclubs and schools into crime scenes. As we watch one beloved character after another disappear while their partners and loved ones look on, Infinity War offers us the starkest of reminders that no one is safe or immune from danger; not even in the Marvel world.

While the movies were always a place to temporarily be free from the problem-filled outside world, it seems that not even the fantasy, action-driven landscape of Marvel is now safe to venture into for escape. In so many, MANY ways, Infinity War’s cliffhanger is a lot like America’s cliffhanger. Countless numbers of the country’s citizens find themselves holding their breath, mourning what their homeland once was and where it’s going. As movie audiences, we know a new Avengers installment is on the way and we know things will be right once more in that world. With new politicians coming into office and ordinary citizens finally taking a stand after years of silence and complacency, it’s that same steadfast belief that is being taken from the world of Marvel and is now flowing throughout the real world outside of the theater.

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