So, for all the movie buffs, the biggest movie of 2019 has just been released. The Movie group will need to get across this because it’s not the ‘Prince of Egypt’ which we have just seen. It is called ‘Avengers: Endgame’. And, apparently, this movie is being warmly received by the public … record numbers are seeing it. It is bigger than Star Wars, bigger than the Hobbit series, bigger than Ben Hur! So, what is it about? No idea!
Briefly, I understand that the movie is the last of a series of movies (probably the reason why it is called Endgame with no reference to a Theatre Play by Samuel Beckett or a song of the same name about lovers by Taylor Swift) that feature from the Marvel comic series about super heroes who take on major threats to the universe, and save us all from death. The super heroes feature characters such as Iron Man, the incredibly strong and angry green man Hulk, Captain America, Thor and his powerful hammer (played by an Australian), Ant-Man (no idea!), Spider Man, the mystical Dr Strange, the Black Panther and a couple of goofy characters from Guardians of the Galaxy; namely, a tree called ‘Groot’, a gun wielding racoon, and an inter-galactic son whose birth mother is a human woman and whose father is a cosmic god. Are you lost?
For me this is about escapism: an opportunity for us to dwell in the fantasy world to dream or just plain forget about reality for a while. It is interesting to think that the Avengers movies took hold – they have been going for over 10 years I think – at the time when the internet and social media were changing audience behaviour and expectations. Suddenly, it became less important to be substantive, writes Ann Hornaday, a movie critic for the Washington Post, and more engaging to be involved in movies that are cataclysmic and full of constant action and ‘shock’.
But what is interesting to ponder is that this movie is saying to us, or teaching us as Hornaday suggests, in a different way to the other movies, not that we will endure forever but how to say goodbye. Death seems fanciful in these movies, and all so unrealistic – it is comic book stuff after all and writers tease us all with pictures of their imaginary dreaming – but here, with Endgame, it is – Goodbye.
That is a powerful message! Nothing is forever and this movie Endgame might well remind us in elegiac though dramatic solemnity of that fact. It is easy sometimes to live in a bubble – in a belief of infallibility and permanence and that life is open and endless – until of course we are confronted with the reality of death. Centuries of poets have addressed themselves to the brevity of existence and the Bible too carries loads of images. But if there is one image that can help us in all of our goodbyes, it is that of the risen Jesus consoling all he meets and reassuring us we are not alone. Of course, this is described in the revered psalm we hold dear for obvious reasons:
‘Though I walk through the darkest valley, the valley of death, I fear no evil, for you are with me’. Ps 23