Cormac Dineen isn’t holding out for a hero
In my opinion, literary expressions are very rarely subject to direct physical manifestations. What I mean by this is that it is next to impossible for words or phrases both written and spoken to be reflected with complete accuracy in something that touches upon the human senses. For this reason, the expression “meaningless drivel” holds some special place in my heart. It is an expression that I can truly understand, not just as some abstract concept, like so many other English expressions – expressions which are accompanied by far more technical prowess, and stylistic pedigree. When I hear the term “meaningless drivel”, I can fully understand it; I can immerse myself in it. This is not because I have some superior grasp linguistics or etymology – I can assure you that I don’t. No, rather, it is because I have physically understood the term. “Meaningless drivel” has assaulted my senses, traversed my neurological pathways, fired my synapses with supernatural vigour, and overloaded my brain. They say divine revelation is reserved for prophets like Jesus, who after a hearty-lunch of suspicious looking mushrooms realised that his mother was a virgin, or Mohammad, who having preceded the invention of anti-psychotic drugs by 1500 years started beheading people who didn’t agree with him. However, this is untrue: I have experienced a physical manifestation of a phrase so true to what I theoretically understood it to mean, that I suspect He must have been involved. These words became something that which I truly felt, in every corner of my head and my heart. I felt them in my soul.
The exact date of this revelation been consigned to the lost annals of human experience, however I suspect that the first of many times I would experience this sensation was in the summer of 2011, when I sat, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and bristling with anticipation, in a cinema seat, and watched Marvel’s “Captain America: The First Avenger”. What followed in the years to come was an incessant stream of box-office hits that raked in hundreds-of-millions of dollars, despite being devoid of any discernible meaning or creative insight whatsoever. Thor, The Avengers, Captain America, Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, each with extant or prospective sequels or prequels – “bleaquels”, if you will.
To this day I look around in incredulity as my friends (you’ll have to take my word on that one) ask me, as many as four times a year, if I’d like to see the latest instalment in this new wave of Marvel Cinematic Universe films.
Before I’m accused of being contrarian just for the sake of it, I’d like to clarify that I’m aware of how much people love these films (the astronomical figures speak for themselves), and I know that my views place me firmly in the minority. However, having said that, I refuse to sit idly by, with teeth clamped firmly upon my tongue, as people que up en masse, paying 8 or 10 euros a ticket for what is essentially a two-hour lasting piece of chewing gum for the mind. The allure of these films is understandable; alien worlds, beautiful protagonists, explosions, humour and drama are certainly all present, and contribute to the commercial success of these films. However I would argue that they are all present in miserly portion, offering a mediocre and shallow imitation of the real thing. The hastily cobbled together, ramshackle worlds of the Marvel Universe, pale in comparison universes created out of passion, and characters about whom the creators truly care.
Do the remarkably forgettable characters that inhabit Xandar in “Guardians of the Galaxy”, or any of the other extras that exist across the banal landscape of the Marvel Universe, wear a patch on the patrons of the Mos Eisley Cantina in “Star Wars”? How could you possibly compare the emotional plight of any of the Marvel Superheroes, played out over countless films and loosely connected narratives, to that of Matthew McConaughey’s character in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, as he leaves behind his daughter on a suffocating Earth, on a one-way ticket into the abyss, in a last ditch effort to save humankind?
Do your pupils dilate or does your heart rate increase, when you see the Chitauri arrive through the wormhole in “The Avengers”, as it does when Saruman’s army arrive to the sound of bone-chilling drumbeat, enshrouded in thunder and lightning, for the battle at Helm’s Deep in The Lord of The Rings “The Two Towers”?
Marvel Cinematic Universe films are not born out of pure necessity, they are the product of a money-making formula that has managed to ingrain itself in popular culture. The writers don’t care about these characters in the way they should. They don’t spend sleepless nights obsessing over each minute detail of the story line. They don’t spend years, pouring their blood, sweat and tears into the dialogue, creating veiled and beautiful interactions that send the viewer home pondering existence. They don’t have to make tough decisions like cutting scenes, or choosing between two equally fitting endings for characters with whom they have lived with for years prior to filming, and will never again see afterwards.
If they were forced to leave some scene out of a film due to time considerations, they can merely add it to the next one – it doesn’t even have to involve the titular character.
This past decade has seen the transition of film from a deep introspective experience, into something to be packaged, wrapped up in bow and rammed down the throats of over-eager consumers, and upon the release of “The Avengers: Infinity War” on April 26th, I fear that this tragic decline shall be completed.
Ironically, I think we now need somebody to save us from this ghastly fate, but I for one, won’t be looking for a Hero.