Tag Archives: Avengers: Infinity War

A Portrait Of Insanity

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Consider the following excerpts from Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton:

The madman’s explanation of a thing is always complete, and often in a purely rational sense satisfactory. 

Now, speaking quite externally and empirically, we may say that the strongest and most unmistakable MARK of madness is this combination between a logical completeness and a spiritual contraction.

Such is the madman of experience; he is commonly a reasoner, frequently a successful reasoner. 

The madman is the man who has lost everything excepts his reason. 

Thanos, the brainchild of Jim Starlin in the Marvel comics and in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is the personification of these ideas about madness. He is a nuanced madman: cruel with a twisted sense of compassion, a logical thinker who reaches intellectually compelling yet abhorrent conclusions. He is not irrational; he is rational – make that super rational. This was demonstrated in Avengers: Infinity War (2018 from Disney Marvel, directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo), and it was perhaps the aspect of the movie with which I was most impressed.

I have often heard the phrase, “that’s subjective,” stated to refute opinions and arguments. The simplistic implication of this is that objective thinking is right and that subjective thinking is wrong. This is misleading. Taken alone, each of them is wrong. Objectivity places some very necessary constraints on subjectivity while subjectivity informs objectivity. Objectivity relies on logic, and the potential weakness of logic is that it must be based on a premise. If the premise is wrong, logic, even perfect logic, built upon this foundation can produce atrocities.

Hitler and his minions demonstrated this with their Final Solution. The Holocaust was the creative, logical product of one of the most advanced scientific civilizations of its time. The destruction by Thanos of 50 percent of an interplanetary population is a final solution writ large. The justification: overpopulation, suffering, and ecological imbalance (solved very logically by mercy killing on an incomprehensible scale). A big picture which ignores individuals is the product of ignorant objectivity uninformed by a subjective understanding of the worth of an individual. Such numerical morality plagues policy making in real life as well as in fantasy.

Subjectivity informs the premise on which logic is based, and to ignore this is madness. I look forward to this week’s release of  Avengers: Endgame.

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Superhero Armageddon

By the end of Avengers: Infinity War (2018 Disney Marvel; directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo), I felt like I’d been worked over, and one young woman a couple of rows in front of me was bent over in her seat and sobbing (NEWS FLASH! At last report all of the actors in the movie were still alive, attractive, popular, and wealthy). I’ve decided not to review this movie. It has already been reviewed to death, resurrected, and reviewed again. Instead, I will make a short series of smugly insightful comments.

Insightful Comment 1:

It’s all about combinations.

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infinity 9This is both a strength and a weakness. While it is interesting to see characters together in novel combinations, there can also be too many irresistible forces and too many immovable objects.

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Don’t try to understand why anyone is winning at any particular point in time. It’s not about logic. Stuff just happens with spectacular (and sometimes innovative) special effects. In that respect, consider the formula. The team suffers abject defeat, rallies (often with a stirring, inspirational speech), and goes on to a dramatic victory (often with unresolved plot elements to set up future stories). Did anyone really expect this superhero movie to be any different?

Insightful Comment 2:

The bad guys are really bad.

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In particular, Thanos (well played by Josh Brolin) is an interesting, metaphysical villain. Originally conceived by Jim Starlin ( a trippy writer whose name appears in the credits) he is philosophical and mercilessly logical, which brings up another characteristic. He is very principled, albeit with very twisted principles. I like this kind of nuance in a villain. It deepens a story.

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Insightful Comment 3:

There will be a reset. The first installment of a two part storyline in this genre should not be expected to end well for the good guys. If what I have just written is a spoiler for a superhero Armageddon , what else did you expect? Remember the formula, and take into account the number of superheroes and villains. By the way, do we really expect Disney Marvel to slaughter its cash cow and leave it dead?

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Insightful Comment 4:

The outro tells us that you-know-who will be introduced. I look forward to seeing the development of this character.

In summary, this movie kept me absorbed and entertained, and it did pretty much what I expected.

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For now, I’m getting superhero fatigue and am preparing to sign off, but I will definitely be in the theater for the next few installments of the MCU. To paraphrase Jack Black…

This isn’t a review. It’s a tribute!