Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Episode 93 - Avengers Endgame Review & More

Join team POPX as we visit the culmination of over 10 years and 22 films into one massive universe, The Marvel Universe. We will discuss easter eggs, favorite moments, and yes, even spoilers, so you've been warned! What does the future of the MCU look like? Tune in to find out.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Avengers Endgame (An MCU Retrospective)

There are those moments in every generation that remind all of us exactly where we were when it all unfolded. For those in the 60's, the hype surrounding Woodstock was the culmination of the impossible becoming reality. People flocked to witness an event that would define a generation, and shape the way we listen to music and congregate even today. In the 70's and 80's, the heart pumping glory of getting tickets to watch George Lucas'  Star Wars saga unravel on the silver screen birthed not only a marketing hype, but redefined how stories are told cinematically.

The driving force behind what's shaped my life today has been the world of comics, and how the stories on each panel spring to life in dramatic and dynamic artwork. In 2008, Marvel Studios Entertainment president Kevin Feige had a vision, something that could not be foretold in just one, or even three films. There are those individuals who are gifted in thinking outside the normal parameters of thought, and cast vision to much grander insights than many of us could dream of. Feige single-handedly formulated a plan that would span some 11 years in the making to truly tell the story of an epic saga across many characters and multiverses. It all started with a man made of iron.

2008 was the year we witnessed Iron Man come to life in a way no one could imagine, and thus began the "end scene credits" that carefully wove together multiple characters and timelines across a vast universe of heroes. Feige's plan was an epic one, and it worked. My generation was able to witness and be a part of something much greater than we could ever dream of. It didn't come in the form of a trilogy, or a series, but 11 years of films, across 22 cinematic releases that painstakingly tied each story line together in a way cinema hasn't witnessed before. A more grand story using heroes we all grew up with in our youths, all on the screen in live action, fighting the forces of evil, and defending the honor and valor of those who cannot. It was radical.

Endgame was such a moment for our generation and time. Similar to the echoed moments in decades past, like the Romans cheering on their favorite gladiators in the Roman Coliseum, to fans cheering for Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi, Endgame is such a moment that will be handed down, discussed and circulated for many, many generations to come. Perfectly woven, painstakingly planned, uncanny in execution, the Russo Brothers crafted a system and story that will transcend for generations to come. Endgame is the climactic culmination of the lives of these heroes we've been cheering on for over a decade. In every way, the story is showcased beautifully, filling in the gaps, and closing the loose ends within the greater story.

It's a film that everyone needs to see. But, one cannot see just Endgame to consume the full narrative of how each hero has landed at this exact spot within the story. I've never been touched so deeply, moved to tears, and flooded with emotions like I have seeing the finality of this story. Each character is given justice, and each moment is carefully scripted to give the deepest impact. It's not simply about infinity stones, nor is it about Thanos as a villain. It's how a band of introverts, castaways and outcasts work together for a greater good. The underlying narrative throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe echoes from the original Spider-Man storyline, "With great power, comes great responsibility."

Marvel comics sets a narrative from the aspect of being human. If a god like Thor, a super soldier like Steve Rogers, or a Hulk like Banner stands up for those of us who can't, how does the human drama of that story get portrayed? When Stan Lee changed Timely Comics to Marvel all the way back in 1961, he approached stories from the human perspective, and that's what made these stories so real and believable. Lee introduced the Fantastic Four and Spider-man, but told that narrative from the the lens of man, not of a god or indestructible force like a Superman. How would it unfold if a nerdy teenager like Peter Parker got bitten by a radioactive spider, and woke up the following morning with powers he didn't fully understand or control? And how would that narrative be told when he goes to high school, and faces bullying and situations a teenager would actually experience? That's the narrative that not only Kevin Feige envisioned, but the Russo Brothers were able to execute flawlessly in Avengers Endgame.

It's this moment in time, this weekend and many weekends to come where Marvel is king of storytelling. Endgame is a project of heart and passion, one that came with patience and many hurdles to figure out, but it was executed with a grace that only a true comic book fan could fathom. Let this film be "that moment," for our generation. Where we take our children and family to witness a story unfold unlike we've seen before. This is our greater gathering of enthusiasts who share the same goals and dreams of those 50 years ago. Instead of a cornfield, it's a cinematic screen, in a dim lit theater... that's where the magic and wonder unfolds.

Avengers Endgame is not just a blockbuster, mega billion making behemoth. It's the hype and finality of a greater story 11 years in the making.

Be Better, Be Greater, whatever it takes.
Joseph Burke
(PopXcast Founder)