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Wednesday, May 01, 2019 - 23:12 SGT
Posted By: Gilbert

Avengers: Box-Office Endgame

"There is only one god,
and Her name is Death.
And there is only one thing we say to Death:
Not Today."

- Syrio Forel, Game of Thrones

Yep, I got caught up in the hype to the extent that I headed down to the cinema to get gouged on popcorn and commemorative cups, and nope, no spoilers here.

Behold, the all-star cast!
(Source: r/marvelstudios)

In fact, just to keep on the safe side lest some very bad things happen, I'll keep the following commentary to the state of the Marvel Universe up until and including Infinity War, which I suppose should be fair play by now. So, back last year, a determined fighter has scoured the universe for six cosmic-level artifacts, which when gathered, entitle the holder to one wish. Unlike Dragon Ball, however, Thanos' desire is not life, but death - more specifically, the death of half of all intelligent life in the Universe, which perhaps turned out to be less than he expected.

[Cue almost all of Earth's defenders remaining after the snap; "Wait, why are you all still here except for Iron Man? Oh..."]

Deconstructing this superhero yarn, as we had for Batman vs. Superman and Gods of Egypt, it must first be recognized that Thanos' arc was never about action. No, Thanos is all about romance. More than Superman with Lois Lane/Lana Lang/Lori Lemaris, Batman with Catwoman/Wonder Woman/Talia al Ghul, Spider-Man with Gwen Stacy/Mary Jane Watson/Felicia Hardy, or "America's Ass" Captain America with Jane Foster/Sharon Carter/Scarlet Witch/Betsy Ross/assorted thots, or any of the so-called "good guys" that airheaded liberal women fawn after while denouncing TRUMP, Thanos is steadfastedly loyal (well, other than Thane, but eternity is hard to bear). There was only one lady who ever had Thanos' heart, and for her, Thanos would give anything and everything, even unto death.

For She was, quite literally, Death.

Definitely a better love story than Twilight or Titanic;
cue more Groove Coverage

(Source: Thanos #18; readcomiconline.to)

Thanos and Death, you see, is the Greatest Love Story Ever Told. Superman mourned, but moved on quickly when Lana was taken from him. Ditto the other "heroes". So many of the popular pairings from our glorified bodice-rippers are ephemeral - Rhett left Scarlett O'Hara, Napoleon divorced his Joséphine, Diana perished in a Paris tunnel sixteen years after her fairytale wedding, long estranged from Charles. Then there are those that were tragically done apart by Her, as ever promised in summer vows: Xiang Yu and Consort Yu, Beren and Lúthien, and of course Romeo and Juliet. Most lovers, then, were never true, or where true, did not have the means to prevent their parting.

All, that is, save Thanos.

Where lesser men might give of trinkets such as sparkly stone and shiny metal and other such manner of unworthy childish toys, only a single sacrifice would ever grace Thanos' altar: life. If he was called the Mad Titan, his madness arose but from a singular purity, and was named thus by those who could not comprehend its totality. He killed, not as other "heroes" or villians did, out of Boredom or Malice or Vengeance or Ambition or Honour or Justice or Righteousness or any such paltry excuses; nor even Loyalty or Duty, though there may have been some slight element of those in his doings.

No, Thanos killed for Love; for Death alone did he kill.

But the Greatest of these is Love.

His Lady, you understand, had granted him both that greatest of blessings, and the most painful of curses - Thanos could not die. She had, then, gifted him what myraid would-be conquerors of the common run would have given anything for: inevitable victory. For where other faithless heroes would eventually age, wither and fall, their might scattered to the winds, with even the barest of their memories one day lost to the ages, Thanos alone endured, and grew only stronger. He won - there was so much winning, but he had long wearied of it. All Thanos had ever wanted, ever longed for, was a simple home and hearth. Perhaps a chicken on the table, a warm, cosy fire going, and his lady Death seated by his right side, snuggling up with him.

Alas, it was not to be.

Thus for countless eons Thanos gave, of the only coin that he and his beloved recognized. Without rest, without complaint, he delivered unto Death that which She yearned for. Human, Asgardian, Kree, Skrull, Celestial; he did not discriminate, for She did not. And Thanos could only watch, as his beloved welcomed into Her everlasting embrace, literally everybody else. Knaves and weaklings, cowards all, She held close to Her breast; and to Thanos, greatest of Her lovers, who had dedicated everything in his power to give - not a single word.

Now, this is not to say that such arrant cockblocking is unknown. We have seen, for example, Rose not thinking to get it on with Jack on that door, which was so totally big enough, and they were gonna die anyway. More recently we have the hopelessly-friendzoned Ser Jorah Mormont, being utilized as a living meatshield by his Daenerys. Still, as we have explained, Death mercifully took them in at the end. Thanos? Well, let's put it this way. Ever wonder why he's purple? Ever heard of blue balls? Yeah, the whole of him changed colour. It's that bad.

But what could Thanos do? Helpless romantic that he was, he persevered. He kept on killing, kept on giving, as the stars dimmed and the galaxies themselves burnt out, ere Valinor and the Silver City and the Higher Realms had long crumbled to dust. He reaped mortals and deities and demons with extreme prejudice, until only himself was left, waiting in an ageless citadel with a single table, a table with only two seats, on one of which was placed a single, black rose. For Her.

And on that final day, when Thanos had, by definition, given it all, his true love Death would arrive; but She would not yet cross the threshold. Instead, he got:

LOL IDK not feeling cute today, maybe tomorrow?
(Source: Thanos #18; readcomiconline.to)

Move on, man. You're too good for her.

But, seriously - Marvel Studios had this epic love story on their hands; there were so many ways they could have taken it, so much untrodden ground, so many fresh subtexts to be tenderly explored. Instead, what did we get? A none-too-subtle lecture on environmental sustainability, from a sad, half-arsed pale simulacrum of the real Thanos who had his entire canonical reason for being completely ripped away from him, with the gaping hole amateurishly filled by incomparably-weaker ships like Quill x Gamora, Tony Stark x Pepper Potts, Steve Rogers x Bucky Barnes and Captain America's butt x Black Widow's butt.

[N.B. Thanos is no slouch in that deportment, just saying.]

Well done, Marvel Studios. You screwed this one up.

Sustainability by Halves

On to Thanos' (disappointing) movie motivations - too many people, too few resources. Ergo, get rid of half the people/aliens/whatever, and there will be enough for the remainder, who will live happy lives of plenty. If this sounds like some crazy Green New Deal bullet point, well, it's not a coincidence. This is probably the largest plot hole in the series - surely Thanos, insane as he was, would have realized that this was at best a very temporary solution? Let's say that some disaster befell a large-enough habitat, and killed roughly half of each and every species living there; would they stay at the new population, were the habitat to recover to its original condition? No, one suspects that they would merely return to their original population in equilibrium, too.

Evidence from history supports this view: Consider the Black Death, which destroyed from between a third and half of the European population in the middle of the 14th century; they were back and bouncing within a century or so. We can discern similar patterns with more modern famines as well. Plainly put, Thanos' grand flashy masterplan was never gonna work in the greater scheme of things anyway, which only goes to show that they should have kept to his classic romantic intentions. Yes, so they absolutely smashed all box-office records thanks to tying together like twenty previous films - but it shouldn't be about the money, gu... eh, who the heck am I kidding.

Kengan Asura

And this month's manga recommendation is... Kengan Asura! Probably one of the best in the fighting genre that I've come across, the artists have certainly done their research with the moves and posing of characters, with plenty of homages too - it's difficult not to recognize the resemblances between Mokichi Robinson and Souten no Ken's Zhang Taiyan, some of Sekibayashi Jun's attitude in History's Strongest Disciple Kenichi's Diego Carlo, or the signature stance of Hajime no Ippo's Mashiba's Hitman style in Agito and Wongsawat's bout. Plenty of painful-looking unnaturally-broken limbs as seen in Souten and Battle Royale, however, so it may not be recommended for the overly-squeamish. Nice way to pass the time before Detective Pikachu and John Wick 3.

And meanwhile in Singapore, a man holding a potted plant fought a man with a recorder. Gives off vibes from fictional Chinese martial arts, I hafta say. Both of them sadly lost after the police arrived, before the question could be settled.

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