The legacy of the Avengers series

by April 29, 2019 0 comments

The much loved Avengers series has given unprecedented hits over a decade, which maps the contemporary human condition with a laudable accuracy

This is what even Bollywood has not managed to achieve despite a familiar culture legacy as its bedrock — make a mammoth hit of an over three-hour epic film, cutting across generations and triggering a collective expiation of all kinds of emotions. At the time of writing, Avengers Endgame had generated a massive weekend collection of Rs 2,130 crore across the world and had waiting queues of fans wanting to know if existence itself could be saved by superheroes or if a doomed future could be malleable and rectified with time travel. In a world of post-truths, the characters created by the Marvel Cinematic Universe have held up hope that we don’t need urban myths but possibilities through science, which is our new god. So why is it that we fall for the Avengers with such gusto? Is it because the idea of time travel to fix things is intrinsically linked to the Oriental philosophy of transforming our past karma with current corrective actions? Or is it that they demonstrate that man can be superman if he should so want?  Creator Stan Lee answered this question in his own battle to emerge out of the gloom and doom of the post-war years and question man-made biases and bigotry. So his superheroes were really scrawny in real life, oddities even, weren’t infallible, had personal burdens and motives and would have feet of clay at times. An angry, raging Hulk could turn on mankind itself, Spider Man had self-doubt and Iron Man ironically needed a mechanical heart to feel the emotions he had ignored over the years. The villain Thanos, too, sheds a tear and is a conflicted, tormented soul who, despite acquiring infinite powers, wonders “To what end?” But a solo superhero cannot save today’s complex world. Superhero, in its evolutionary journey then, is collective humanity. And unfinished business is not despair but about getting up again as evidenced by the penultimate Avengers’ film Infinity War. Meanwhile, the superheroes are breaking out of White supremacist constructs and embracing global diversity. The commercial success of the Black Panther of Wakanda has made Marvel consider more inclusions. Black Widow and Captain Marvel are more than just women empowerment, they are the carriers of the future.

So why is it that Bollywood cannot create such realistic superheroes instead of making bad copies in Krrish and Ra One? We have our own comic book superheroes in Doga, who doesn’t draw planetary powers but has developed his own human strength through training. He’s not rich like Tony Stark or Bruce Wayne conjuring up futuristic tools and war machines, but a regular guy who scores with his brain. Dhruva is a stunt biker, acrobat and martial artist whose best kept secret is his ESP, his ability to communicate with the animal world. There’s Shakti too, a desi avenging woman who can travel at the speed of light. Fortunately, they are all believable Indians who score not with unreal physical prowess or borrowed aerodynamics but with that very Indian characteristic called mindplay and wit. Unfortunately, our filmmakers haven’t looked at these possibilities. Though we do not know what Ranbir Kapoor’s Brahmastra will be like, we hope that his superhero is not simply gifted and static in that cosmic giftedness. Part of the deficient appeal of our superheroes is that they do not have a shelf life or branding beyond the home-grown comics, which have been replaced by glossy consumables from the DC and Marvel Inc. Most importantly, they seem to be confined to their appeal among children who don’t carry their images into adulthood. And although India is now the FX backroom for Hollywood, nobody has thought about using that skill set for our versions. Yet Black Panther has shown that the African warrior tribe is as comfortable electrifying a defence shield while sporting their cultural costumes in athleisure formats. So no excuses for creativity.

Writer: The Pioneer

Courtesy: The Pioneer


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