Some reflections on Infinity War and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Lots of spoilers.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is a movie about consequences.
Heroes usually have the luxury of avoiding consequences, as they go from episode to episode always succeeding. Star Trek II is quite explicitly about how Kirk has avoided consequences for his entire life, starting with him beating the Kobayashi Maru scenario at Starfleet Academy.
David: Lieutenant Saavik was right: You never have faced death.
Kirk: No, not like this. I haven’t faced death. I’ve cheated death. I’ve tricked my way out of death and – patted myself on the back for my ingenuity.
In Star Trek II the consequences all come at once, whether it is a long-forgotten enemy or a son.
And in the end, the ultimate consequence, the death of Spock.
Which, in usual Heroic fashion, turns out to be reversible in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.
James T. Kirk: [Looking up from the planet surface to see the remains of the Enterprise burning in the atmosphere] My God, Bones, what have I done?
Leonard McCoy: What you had to do, what you always do. Turned death into a fighting chance to live.
And Star Trek II and Star Trek III are about the dialogue between the needs of the many and the needs of the few, or the one.
Sarek: But at what cost? Your ship. Your son.
James T. Kirk: If I hadn’t tried, the cost would have been my soul.
Infinity War Part 1 is definitely also about consequences, as I have written in Infinity War Part 1 – a universe out of balance. Presumably Infinity War Part 2 will be about the search to undo what has been done in Part 1.
I have to say that Star Trek II & III are rather more elegantly and clearly about these philosophical questions and about the consequences of a lifetime of heroic actions, but these ideas nevertheless are in Infinity War and (presumably) will emerge in Part 2 as well.
In ROT13 because spoilers.
Gur trareny bhgyvar vf cerggl pyrne, naq vf onfvpnyyl: Gvzr Fgbar.
Bgure guna gung, vg frrzf irel yvxryl gung Pncgnva Zneiry jvyy cynl n ebyr, naq gung Gbal Fgnex jvyy nyfb or xrl. (Guvf vf n svggvat flzzrgel, tvira gung Veba Zna ynhapurq gur Zneiry Pvarzngvp Havirefr va 2008.)
Gurer’f n cbffvoyr vagrerfgvat pyhr sebz gur Zneiry qrfpevcgvba bs gur (znyr) Pncgnva Zneiry (Zne-Iryy), va gur Cebgrpgbe bs gur Havirefr frpgvba: “Gunabf orpnzr pbaivaprq gung ur unq qenvarq gur Phor bs vgf cbjre naq qvfpneqrq vg, nyybjvat Pncgnva Zneiry gb teno gur Phor naq erfgber ernyvgl gb n gvzr orsber Gunabf unq tnvarq pbageby bire gur havirefr.”
Gur erfg vf cerggl zhpu qrgnvyf.
Va Vasvavgl Jne Cneg 1, vg’f vagrerfgvat gung znal bs gur fgbarf ner jba ol Gunabf jura fbzrbar tvirf gurz hc gb fnir n fvatyr yvsr. Ybxv tvirf Gunabf gur oyhr Fcnpr Fgbar sebz gur Grffrenpg gb fnir Gube (naq qvrf nf n pbafrdhrapr). Tnzben tvirf Gunabf gur ybpngvba bs gur benatr Fbhy Fgbar gb fnir Arohyn (naq qvrf nf n pbafrdhrapr). Qe. Fgenatr tvirf Gunabf gur terra Gvzr Fgbar gb fnir Fgnex (naq qvrf nf n pbafrdhrapr). Ner gurer tbvat gb or nal pbafrdhraprf gb gur snpg gung yvirf jrer serryl tvira sbe nyzbfg rirel fgbar?
Gur rzcunfvf ba Gunabf naq Gvgna (juvpu vf n cynarg, abg Fnghea’f zbba Gvgna) vf vagrerfgvat. V pbhyq frr gur Gvzr Fgbar orvat hfrq gb jvaq onpx gb Gunabf ba Gvgna ybat ntb naq univat uvz unir gb svaq n orggre pubvpr guna xvyyvat unys gur crbcyr. Cerfvqrag Gunabf bs Gvgna? Be jvaqvat onpx gb Tnzben’f cynarg naq univat uvz znxr n qvssrerag pubvpr (guvf frpbaq bcgvba frrzf dhvgr hayvxryl).
Vapvqragnyyl guvf tvirf zr na bccbeghavgl gb zragvba gung guvf irefvba bs Gunabf vf onfvpnyyl n cnegvphyneyl haercragnag Nagba Xnevqvna / Xbqbf “gur Rkrphgvbare” bs Gnefhf VI, rkprcg jvgu yrff Funxrfcrner.
Vg’f cbffvoyr gung fbzr bs gur punenpgref jvyy unir gb qvr. V pbhyq frr Gube qlvat. Znlor abg Gbal Fgnex abj gung ur’f zneevrq. Ohg zbfg jvyy pbzr onpx.
Vg nyfb erznvaf gb or frra jurgure gur hfr bs gur Gvzr Fgbar jvyy nyfb haqb zhpu bs gur qrfgeblrq jbex bs cerivbhf zbivrf. Thneqvnaf bs gur Tnynkl – fnirq Knaqne. Vasvavgl Jne – xvyyrq unys be zber bs gur Knaqnevnaf? Gube: Entanebx – fnirq Nftneq (va gur sbez bs fbzr bs vgf pvgvmraf). Vasvavgl Jne – xvyyrq Nftneq (va gur sbez bs nyy bs vgf pvgvmraf fnir Gube).
Cneg 2 unf nyernql orra fubg. Fperrajevgref Puevfgbcure Znexhf naq Fgrcura ZpSrryl unir fnvq “Jr qba’g jnag — naq pregnvayl bgure zbivrf unir orra npphfrq bs guvf — gb gryy bar ovt fgbel, phg vg va unys, naq fgrny lbhe zbarl.” Vg’f uneq gb frr ubj guvf jba’g or gur pnfr hayrff Cneg 2 vf ernyyl n frevbhf qrcnegher. Gurl fnl vg vf: “Jr vagraq gurz gb or irel qvssrerag rkcrevraprf,” ZpSrryl fnlf. “Gurl ner cenpgvpnyyl qvssrerag traerf, V’yy gryy lbh gung. Vg jvyy srry gung jnl. … Jr jbhyq yvxr gb gryy gjb pbzcyrgr [fgbevrf].”
“N dhrfgvba naq na nafjre,” Znexhf nqqf.
Cerfhznoyl gur dhrfgvba vf “Qb gur arrqf bs gur znal bhgjrvtu gur arrqf bs gur srj, be gur bar?” (v.r. ubj qb gevyyvbaf bs yvirf jrvtu ntnvafg n fvatyr yvsr?) naq gur nafjre va hfhny zbivr snfuvba vf “gur arrqf bs gur bar bhgjrvtu gur arrqf bs gur znal”. Guvf vf nyernql n gurzr vagebqhprq va Cneg 1. Naq vg zvtug rira or Gunabf va gur raq jub haqbrf jung ur qvq, fb gung ur zvtug erfgber whfg bar yvsr, Tnzben.
August 20, 2017 watching the Marvel Cinematic Universe
In my opinion, there are basically two standout movies from the various phases of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) so far: the first Captain America (Captain America: The First Avenger) and the first Guardians of the Galaxy. You can watch both as standalone (and in any case Guardians of the Galaxy doesn’t really fit with the Avengers movies anyway). The first Iron Man also has its merits, but suffers from some pretty extensive misogyny. If you watch any Avengers at all, watch Age of Ultron.
In fairness, these movies are a complicated combination of competing factors. I am more interested in the interpersonal dynamics, but for legitimate reasons of fan interest, the movies pretty much have to contain aspects of fan debate and set-piece battles.
The fan debate items are things like:
“What happens if Thor’s hammer Mjölnir hits Captain America’s vibranium shield? (Answer: A sort of giant shockwave) or
“Can The Hulk lift Thor’s hammer Mjölnir?” (Answer: no)
Unfortunately one of the main fan debate items, and one which is also cinematically cost-effective, is What happens if character X fights character Y? Which means we end up with a lot of engineered situations of Avenger fighting Avenger.
The set piece battles are similarly popular with fans, but end up basically just being a jumble of people doing super power things until the bad guys inevitably lose.
The MCU is currently broken up into three phases. They have various Avengers, plus Spider-man, but not the X-Men (due to obscure studio licensing issues). The X-Men is a completely separate universe cinematically.
Iron Man (2008) – Iron Man 1 – watch
The Incredible Hulk (2008) – I didn’t view it
Iron Man 2 (2010) – skip
Thor (2011) – skip
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) – Captain America 1 – watch
Marvel’s The Avengers (2012) – Avengers 1 – watch
Iron Man 3 (2013) – watch but skip the set-piece battle
Thor: The Dark World (2013) – Thor 2 – it’s not bad – watch
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) – Captain America 2 – watch
[ Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) – Guardians of the Galaxy 1 – watch but it really doesn’t fit with the rest of the Avengers movies; you can watch it standalone ]
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) – Avengers 2 – watch
Ant-man (2015) – skip
Captain America: Civil War (2016) – Captain America 3 – watch but skip the battle at the end
Doctor Strange (2016) – I didn’t view it
[ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) – skip – long sequence in the middle where they are captured on and then escape from the ship is cringe-worthy and celebrates gratuitous violence ]
Spider-man: Homecoming (2017) – Spider-man reboot 3 movie 1 – it’s ok but can easily be skipped
Thor: Ragnarok (2017) – watch. It’s funny.
Black Panther (2018) – watch
There are a few sequences you could watch, for example Iron Man 1 & 3, or Captain America 1, 2, 3.
There are lots more movies lined up. You can see the current plans at e.g. https://marvel.com/movies/all
They are basically positioning everyone for the Avengers Infinity War movies (the battle for the Infinity Stones) in 2018 and 2019. That will close a 10 year cycle of movies, I’m not sure where they will go after that.