We went and saw Avengers: Endgame Saturday morning at 8:05 AM. “We” is my wife, my son, my mother-in-law and me. I explained things to my wife while my son explained things to his grandmother.
It’s a fantastic and satisfying end to the Thanos vs Avengers story. If you don’t care about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this will not change your mind and there’s no reason to see this movie. For those of us who grew up wishing they were Chris Claremont, Roy Thomas, Marv Wolfman or John Buscema just so we could hang out with Stan Lee, this whole decade has been a dream come true. To see the garishly colored fantasies of my childhood come to life on film in such a satisfying way is amazing and gratifying.
Spoiler Alert. if you haven’t seen Endgame and you plan to, wait until after you see it to read the rest of this post.
One of my favorite parts of the film had almost nothing to do with the main plot. Thor goes back in time to a pre-Ragnarok Asgard and visits with his mother, Frigga, the goddess of wisdom. Thor is ridiculously bummed out about his failure to stop Thanos and Frigga (played by the always wonderful Rene Russo) says:
“Everyone fails at who they are supposed to be. The measure of a person, a hero, is how they succeed at being who they are.”Frigga, Queen of Asgard
I just love this, and it’s perfect for Thor. He is wrecked by his failure because it had epic consequences but also because he is not supposed to fail.
What we are “supposed” to do or the way things are “supposed” to happen are mostly sources of pain and often get in the way of doing what we can with what we have. “Supposed to” lives in the same universe where life is fair and things make sense. In other words, a fictional universe. In fact, I would say, THE fictional universe that most of us live in. This magical land is very similar to the universe in which we live except that the fictional universe is ruled by the Laws of Story rather than the Laws of Physics.
Let’s give this fictional place a name (since as humans, naming things is one of our superpowers). How about the Human Cinematic Universe or HCU for short?
In the HCU there are good guys and bad guys and, in the end, the good guys win. In the HCU there is a beginning and an end. Things make sense, everything is fair and everything works like it’s supposed to work. If it doesn’t work there is a reasonable reason.
In the real universe, things happen. There are causes but often they are complicated and certainly things are rarely fair.
Don’t get me wrong. I live to make sense of things. I believe that i am here to make the world a better place and I have faith that good will triumph over evil.
I also know, however, that I made all that up. I know that my sense of self is constructed by a mixture of electricity, water and complex chemicals that wash around in a bag of skin. I know that if I believed in the Norse Gods or Fox and Friends or the Flying Spaghetti Monster the universe would look a lot different to me and I would be cheering for different good guys and booing different bad guys.
Not all bad guys are called Decepticons or work for the Dark Side. In fact, I don’t think there are many people who have ever thought of themselves as villains.
The point of this post is to be the best version of who you are and don’t get mired in recriminations or resentments about what is supposed to be. That’s all fantasy. Make a comic book about the superhero you are supposed to be if you want but don’t let it get in the way of living in the RNU (that would be the Real Non-cinematic Universe).