So the trailer for Avengers: Endgame has dropped and a lot of the commentary is that it’s “The Snap” part two.
Much has been said about “The Snap”. Indeed the fact that I can say “The Snap” and you’re more than likely going to know what I’m talking about is an achievement in and of itself.
There is the argument that The Snap cheapens the film Infinity War. That with our fourth-wall-breaking knowledge that there are more films to come starring characters who were erased during The Snap also erases any dramatic tension. We know that T’Challa and Peter Parker are coming back, so how can a movie where certain plot points are fait accompli be interesting?
While I’ll admit that I’d certainly have done things differently, I can’t help but be excited about Endgame. Most of the narratives throughout history have had foregone conclusions, and they're just fine. It's when mavericks try and mess with a formula older than the written word that problems set in.
I wasn’t overly impressed with Infinity War. I thought it was...fine. A solid 3 stars. There was a line of thought that the film was too ambitious, that there was no way that it could juggle so many elements at once. That line of thought was correct. If I could sum up Infinity War in a word it would be “Icarus”.
But it was still a decent film and a lot of fun. It raised a lot of interesting questions and as far as cliffhangers go, how you go about bringing fifty percent of the universe’s population back from the dead is about as good as it gets.
What I find interesting is that while I might not agree with the direction that Infinity War took, I’m actually excited by the fact that we know that, somehow, Thanos’ deeds will be undone. This next film isn’t about what is going to happen, but how. Like a jigsaw puzzle, the fun is in putting it all together. And while we might know that Spider-Man makes it through, we don’t have that certainty about Iron Man (and if we don’t then I called it years ago, and no it won’t be from the drifting through space).
What excites me more as a writer and a fan though is that I know that some reasonable conclusion is going to be reached. That there is a plan being followed. There is a sense of direction.
Which, as ever, brings me back to Star Wars and The Last Jedi.
Marvel have maintained a cohesive continuity over 21 films, each of them with interlocking plot devices and cameos and three phases of narrative arc which culminate not only in Endgame but also fit together future unreleased films such as Captain Marvel. Everything goes according to plan. There is a certain amount of freedom within that, as Taika Waititi can attest, and a certain number of constraints, Joss Whedon will fill you in on those, but there is a plan.
The new brand of Star Wars, outside of Lucas, couldn’t keep it together for two films. There was no plan. There was no overarching plot, no constraints, no direction, no oversight, no hope. They just had the great idea of a new trilogy and have been winging it ever since.
The first film was given to someone with a track record of creating narrative promises that are never fulfilled and in good order he created grand mysteries for future films. Although this time it won't be his fault.
The next film was given to a sociopath and diva who chafed so much at the constraints of working within someone else’s universe that he had a tantrum and pissed all over creation. Not just ignoring everything established in the previous film, and not just destroying an entire historical epoch of entertainment across multiple mediums dating back to 1977, but also digging a narrative hole so deep that I honestly can’t see how the next film can even begin to fix it. The only direction is forwards and the only destination is cliff.
And this is the difference between Marvel and Lucasfilm. Marvel has a plan. Lucasfilm never did. They just handed to wheel to whatever random hothead had the most convincing smile and didn’t bother to check in on them once. Now they're reaping the whirlwind.
“But we know Thanos will be defeated” isn’t a criticism. It’s a reassurance. It means that Endgame is going to reach a satisfying conclusion that is the result of some very talented people following a cohesive vision (and, hopefully, at the end of the film we’ll also have a cohesive Vision). The fun is how we’re going to get there.
Meanwhile I look forward to the Star Wars Episode IX trailer with the same emotions that one might check in on a 747 full of people being flown by an angry chimpanzee locked in the cockpit, and with much the same reasons.