Sholio (sholio) wrote,

A rantlet? I guess?

Not posting on Tumblr because I don't like hitting myself in the head with hammers, but I was having a conversation with [personal profile] sheron this morning about Endgame and I got to thinking about my biggest narrative problem with it, namely ...

... it works fine as the ending for an individual movie, emotionally speaking (I mean, I have logistical issues with some of it, but not movie-destroying ones) but not as the culmination of multiple character arcs that have built over 10 years.

Like I was saying to Sheron, you can have your big apocalyptic breaking-the-world finale (those can be great! They can be completely kickass! Sometimes it feels good to be pummeled in the feels until you beg for mercy!) or you can have your ongoing franchise full of characters people get really attached to and want to follow from movie to movie, but you can't do both at once, particularly if (especially if!) you put your big apocalyptic finale in the middle.

I feel like this might be one place where comics really steered them wrong, because comics does this kind of thing on a regular basis, the big crossover break-everything events. And on the whole, the MCU's general storytelling style, with multiple interwoven and related series, is patterned after the comics.

But, first of all, this is one reason WHY comics readership is in steady decline, and second, those big comic events tend to end up quietly fixing most of the things they broke over the next year or two anyway, via retcons and/or just quietly ignoring any parts of the continuity that people dislike about the earlier event. I mean, just because it's a standard part of comics* storytelling doesn't make it good storytelling.

*By "comics" I mean Marvel and DC, which is a particular shorthand that drove me ABSOLUTELY BONKERS for many years -- using comics as a synecdoche for a particular brand of superhero comics -- but I have to say it can be convenient when you don't want to type out qualifiers all the time.

Anyway, though, this only works in comics to the extent that it does because regular comics readers have not only been conditioned by decades of inconsistent writing to ignore any part of their favorite titles that they don't agree with, but have also come to accept that it's an advertising gimmick more than a serious part of the story. It matters about as much as the "In this issue, SOMEONE DIES!!" blazoned across 80s/90s covers, "someone" being either a minor character we don't care about or a major character whose death will be fixed sooner rather than later. (I am, for example, annoyed as hell at Marvel killing off Cable and replacing him with a younger clone as soon as I got attached to him, but I figure it's only a matter of time before they get tired of nu!Cable and find a way to bring back the old one, via time travel or dimension travel or clones with the original's memories or some other completely ridonkulous retcon. Last time I checked on my X-Men OTP, Gambit was evil and Rogue was in a coma, and now they're married. IDEK.)

But the point is, comics runs on that kind of nonsense logic. It's like soap operas: you don't expect serious plotting, you expect plastic surgery turning one character into an exact copy of a different actor, and secret babies and kids aging from toddlerhood to teenagers in 3 years and people coming back from the dead.

But the MCU established itself as a realistic universe that runs on plausible(-ish) internal plot logic. Meaning, you only get one shot at it; meaning, if ten years of buildup leads to a character dying, a couple breaking up, a solid hammer coming down on ever doing some popular plot from the comics ... that's it, that's the shot you got. We were supposed to be able to relate to the MCU on a more realistic level, and most of the earlier movies support that.

So it's NOT like those big comics epic crossover apocalypse events where you just assume we're going to subsequently ignore 90% of it. I mean, that DOES seem to be what they're doing with, say, the 5-year timeskip and its likely effects on the world which it appears that future movies are just going to ignore. But it doesn't work the same way because the MCU has been established as a more realistic universe. I'm not surprised in comics if they kill off half the population with an epidemic during the latest big event while over here in Related Title 92, fun romcom hijinks are continuing as usual. That's comics logic for you. But the MCU didn't used to be like that.

And it doesn't mean you can't reward 10 years of audience loyalty by killing off a character or breaking up a couple -- sometimes that is the plausible end; sometimes it's the narratively satisfying end. But there's something frustrating and cheap about building up to that as the Big Finish, and then putting out a new fun feelgood movie 2 months later along with the announcement that we've got 10 more movies coming except without all your faves.

ETA: More specific Endgame and general MCU negativity in comments.

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Tags: movies:avengers, movies:mcu
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