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Why I won’t be seeing Avengers Infinity War

Superheroes? I love them. But I would rather have a book to read about them than a film to watch. For in a book, Iron Man is Tony Stark, and not Robert Downey Jr; Batman is Bruce Wayne, and not Christian Bale; Thor is the son of Odin and the God of Thunder, and not Chris Hemsworth.

thanos in marvel's avengers infinity war Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Avengers: Infinity War hit the big screen on April 27 everywhere

“You are not going to see the latest Avengers’ film? I thought you liked superheroes and were an Avengers’ fan!”

If I had a rupee for every time I have had to hear those sentences in the past few days, I would probably have enough to watch the film being referred to from a cushy seat, and maybe even have change to spare for a bucket of popcorn. However, that is something I am unlikely to spend that money or any money on.

I guess I have finally had my fill of superhero films.

Let me make one thing clear: I love superheroes. I read my first Batman comic when I was all of nine years old, the one in which Leslie Thompkins makes her first appearance (DC #457, as I later found out) and although I loved my Asterix, TinTin, and of course the Three Musketeers, there was a special place for Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, Iron Man and so on. I actually discovered Captain America in a Hostess Twinkies cake advertisement on the back of a Spider-Man comic. I think my parents were a little disappointed that I did not follow Amar Chitra Kathas with the same sort of passion, and mum has still not forgiven me for butchering one of her dupattas while I was pretending to be Batman, only to be chased by a less than impressed dog, but I was known as the person who loved superheroes, be they from the DC or Marvel Universe. I was often advised to “make a library” of my comic book collection and lend them out – advice which I doggedly ignored because I knew that most of them would not return.

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mcu's latest avengers infinity war has created quite the buzz at the box office The reason is simple: I do not really think I know all those fellas in colourful suits and tights. Not any more.

And of course, when the eighties and nineties saw superhero films being the rage, with Christopher Reeve as Superman (so overshadowed by Gene Hackmann’s Lex Luthor) and Michael Keaton as Batman (so overshadowed by Jack Nicholson’s Joker), I religiously queued up to see them as well. And when in my third decade of comic book craze, the comic book heroes got rebooted into more “identifiable and vulnerable” cinema characters, well, I watched them too. I loved Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, Christian Bales’ Batman and of course, most of all, Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man.

Also read | Avengers Infinity War review: An entertaining but ultimately underwhelming superhero extravaganza

Which of course, is why so many of my friends are wondering why I am not all a twitter (or a Facebook, sorry, but the pun was there to be made) at the thought of Avengers: Infinity War, which for many people is the biggest superhero film for a while.

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tom hiddleston as loki in avengers infinity war I guess I have finally had my fill of superhero films.

The reason is simple: I do not really think I know all those fellas in colourful suits and tights. Not anymore. These ladies and gentlemen and their stories have gone off on tangents that have VERY little in common with their comic counterparts. And as if that were not bad enough, suddenly the actors have become more important than the characters they represent. Imagine Bruce Wayne becoming more important than Batman?

For all their goofiness and relative absence of special effects, most of the eighties and nineties stuck to the comic book scripts and stories. That kind of disappeared in the new millennium – Spider-Man was initially a grim student (a far cry from the reckless witty web slinger in the comics), Batman kept having his thunder stolen by villains and his secret identity was known to basically everyone, Iron Man actually sounded more like Spider-Man, Odin seemed to be powerless and forever going into a coma, and hey, Thor had a beard!

What makes things more difficult for a comic book (or graphics novels, as they call them now) follower like me is that the storylines of the films are right off kilter from what we are often reading. And ironically, all this is happening at a time when the graphics novel universe has seen some phenomenal writing. If that sounds hard to believe, just read some of the recent Marvel and DC books. You will be stunned at the nuances of the plots and the exchanges between the characters which sometimes border on pure literature. There is even a Batman series in which Bruce Wayne and not his parents was the person who died that fateful night in an alley in Gotham (no, I am not telling you more – go read the book really). In comparison, the films with their big explosions and special effects, one-liner repartees and wafer-thin plots, just seem shockingly superficial.

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a still from avengers infinity war Despite being a big fan of comic books, I won’t be seeing Avengers: Infinity War in theatres

So what, some will say, films are about entertainment, aren’t they? Perhaps they are. But superheroes are not. For me, at least (so call me naive), superheroes were all about something far more noble – they were about fighting for a cause, standing up for those who could not defended, battling evil and so on. Somewhere down the line, that seems to have been lost in the films, which have become spectacles with larger than life actors (not characters, actors!), massive special effects, and not much in the name of stories. A lot of my friends come back and talk about terrific confrontations and amazing displays of super powers on screens but for some reason, not too many talk about the story. Even in Christopher Nolan’s much-acclaimed Dark Knight series, there were plenty of people mouthing dialogues from the Joker (Heath Ledger), but not too many were able to make sense of why on earth the Batman wanted to become the villain at the end of the film!

These are called story book characters for a reason – they appear in stories. And for me, the story has been the biggest casualty of the current superhero film saga. You may have great actors and terrific drama, but the plot more often than not is pretty much lost in all the noise and special effects. And the Lord alone help you if there is more than one superhero involved for the objective then is more about making sure every superstar gets enough screen time and witty dialogue, rather than getting the story moving. It can be entertaining doubtless, but for me, it is not fair to the characters I grew up with. It is not fair to the fiction that made them so popular that they became silver screen rather than paper page avatars.

It is not fair to the Dark Knight, who so memorably said in “I am Suicide” (narrated by the amazing Tom King):

“I prayed.
And no one
No one answered
No one answered
I was alone
Like everyone else
Like everyone in Gotham
All of us
We are all on our knees
Our hands together
The blood and the blade warm between them
We pray
No one answers
I saw
And I understood…
So that’s what it is
The ears,
the belt,
the gargoyle,
it’s not funny.
It’s the choice of a boy.
The choice to die.
I am Batman.
I am suicide…”

Superheroes? I love them. But I would rather have a book to read about them then a film to watch. For in a book, Iron Man is Tony Stark, and not Robert Downey Jr; Batman is Bruce Wayne, and not Christian Bale; Thor is the son of Odin and the God of Thunder, and not Chris Hemsworth.

A book has heroes. A film has stars.

There is a difference.

First published on: 28-04-2018 at 09:33:52 am
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