Avengers: Endgame's "Wocka! Wocka!" Problem: Disney/Marvel Studios Doesn't Trust Your Feels (OP-ED)
Now that we find ourselves in the eye of the holiday storm and crawling our way to a new year, feels like now's as good a time as any for a little "airing of grievances" to all the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) acolytes out there. Consider this a "tough love letter" – that holiday present you didn't really want but you know you'll need and find useful six months from now – the quick pulling of the band-aid – an attempt to swap out the flavor of your Kool-Aid.
Some hard truths:
● Nothing that "The House of Mouse" pimps out Marvel-wise classifies as "The Greatest Superhero Movie Ever!". In fact, Avengers: Infinity War isn't even the best Disney/Marvel Studios movie, let alone the best superhero movie from just "The Mouse" (The Incredibles, Big Hero Six).
Now before you start grabbing torches and pitchforks and yelling, "You DC scumbag!" as you're chasing me into the village square, let me be clear: DC/Warner Bros. hasn't done anything off-the-charts, either- and their fanbase can skew a bit "touchy" sometimes, too.
We all know the title for best superhero movie ever is a three-way tie between Chronicle, Unbreakable, and The Incredibles – so let's just put that to rest right away. I won't count The Dark Knight: it's basically a '70's urban police crime drama – except two characters dress funny.
But everyone's entitled to their own opinions…right?
Except that doesn't always seem to be the case with Marvel film fans: for some reason, the only way a Marvel film fan can justify the "greatness" of a Marvel film is by trashing something that DC/Warner Bros. is doing. Essentially, on a ten-point scale everything Disney/Marvel Studios does is a 9/10 and everything DC/Warner Bros. does is a 1/2.
The sad spoiler in all of this? Both sides are debating films that all fall in the range of 4/5/6 – doing back-strokes in a crowded public pool of mediocrity. Disney/Marvel Studios films aren't nearly as good as you think you are, and the DC/Warner Bros. films aren't as bad as you need them to be. Just kinda' weird, actually…
Go on – tell me "how much better" Avengers: Age of Ultron or Iron Man 2 were than Justice League. Draw up a list of "all" the Marvel Studios films that were better than Wonder Woman. I triple-dog-dare you. It's a pointless debate where the "best case" scenario outcome being that one of them gets to claim the "Most Above Average" belt.
Full disclosure? I'd be a hypocrite if I didn't say that Bleeding Cool's reaped some of the benefits of picking/playing sides and stoking some of the fandom flames out there. Can't preach to the "sinners" if you don't own your own "sins"…
● But this second "truth" is the one that's a really bitter pill to swallow: "The House of Mouse" doesn't want or need you "feeling" on your own because they can't control that, so they're going to tell you how to feel…and when…and for how long.
Don't believe me? Rewatch Avengers: Infinity War (yeah…I know…) – except this time? Watch it with "The Wocka! Wocka! Initiative" in play – where every time someone makes a joke or there's a sight gag, say The Muppet's Fozzie the Bear's go-to, end-of-the-joke line in your head.
Like every time there's an erectile dysfunction "joke" aimed at Mark Ruffalo's Bruce Banner because he can't "get it up" to change into the Hulk? Wocka! Wocka!
Maybe when Chris Evans' Steve Rogers/Captain America and Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark/Iron Man act like nervous teens deciding who should text who first? Wocka! Wocka!
Or the hundred other "wacky" moments that were taking place – while an angry, power-mad Titan looked to wipe out half of the universe's population from existence?
Because why let a slaughter on a scale so epic that it requires the entire MCU to team up to stop it keep Chris Pratt's Star-Lord from dropping another cheeky quip, right?
Don't have another seven hours to spend watching it again? No worries! Our friends at "The House of Mouse" have read Sun Tzu's little-known The Art of the Trailer over the years – using it to help smooth over things like a nasty dust-up with the Los Angeles Times and the controversy surrounding a current Marvel Comics editor who pretended to be/gave interviews as an Asian comics writer.
But this time? Their trailer game for Avengers: Endgame actually helps make my argument against them for me.
When we last saw our heroes… Chris Hemsworth's Thor missed his mark by that much, allowing Thanos (Josh Brolin) to keep the beat and create a whole lot more universal elbow room. So when the Avengers: Endgame trailer begins, we see Tony having his "Yorick" moment as his ship drifts aimlessly towards…it's inevitable doom!
Guess it's going to be a short movie…because things are looking dire! With half of the universe's population gone, things have gotten so bad that no one can look directly at one another anymore. They look down..
They look down into their hand…
They look down and distant (with a small, stolen J.J. Abrams flare in the backgound)…
They lose themselves in the music, the moment. They own it, and they'll never let it go. They've only get one shot, so they will not miss their chance to blow – this opportunity comes once in a lifetime…
Hell, they even cheap-shot us with the implication that Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye lost his family when Thanos literally snapped…
And even as they initiate their plan, the looking down continues…
Finally! Some serious acceptance of the righteously huge loss of life that's happend! Clearly, Disney/Marvel Studios is taking this extinction level threat with all of the seriousness it's deserved since Day One!
Wait…hold on…what's that? There's an end-credit scene?
Disney/Marvel Studios doesn't entrust you with your own feelings because too much feeling kills their bottom line. The company whose founder perfected the idea of having rides end at the gift shop can't have you leaving the theater with too strong a dose of "The Sobbing Feels" – because the higher the dose of "The Sobbing Feels," the less likely you are to go back for a second, third, twenty-seventh viewing. If you're not going back to see it again and again, then you're also probably not stocking up merchandising – and "The Mouse" will not stand by and let that happen.
How many Requiem for a Dream video games were sold for XBox 360? See what I mean?
So you get "The Wocka! Wocka! Initiative" instead, a slap/tickle approach where the viewer is put through an emotional rollercoaster of extremes (Universe in peril! Groot's Being Cute!) to the point where the viewer becomes numb to any emotional chord that isn't the one Disney/Marvel Studios wants – because "Big Mama Mouse" will make every wittle thing better so don't you worry! It's like cinematic Ritalin for the emotionally stunted.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go online and see if I was wiped out from existence (not making that up) – which would leave my frends, family, and loved ones to pick up the pieces and carry on – when Thanos snapped the glove.
Fingers crossed! Wocka! Wocka!