Avengers Endgame’s “happy ending” script provides the audience with complete indulgence, a minimal amount of loss suffered by individual characters, dreams fulfilled by all survivors, revenge upon the enemy, and yet another escape from facing the consequences of our actions. It’s what almost everyone wanted to see (except me) while simultaneously being a testament to the self-absorbed, self-righteous state of mind of the modern human.
For example, in both ‘Endgame’ and it’s predecessor ‘Infinity War’ the script and dialogue repeatedly refer to losing 50% of all life. Yet not in a single scene in either of the movies in which we witness characters turning to dust do we see ANYTHING else turn to dust. This includes scenes where characters are in the depths of the jungles of Wakanda, city parks, yards, or entire landscapes such as Agent Barton’s (Hawkeye) estate.
I tried to dismiss this thought as perhaps the writers had actually meant only human life, not all life, but they repeatedly and specifically used the phrase “all living creatures”. If that were the case, to drive home the devastation of what Thanos had done, I thought they might show at least one non-human perishing, such as a deer turning into dust or maybe just one tree amongst the many trees setting the backdrop where we see humans disappear.
Was this an oversight by the writers? Did it not occur to them that when Thanos’s mission was accomplished some of the vegetation surrounding our heroes would certainly fall into the randomly selected 50%? Surely at least one tree or blade of grass would be included in the “random” selection of living creatures.
Or is it even worse? Is this a reminder that our species is so focused on ourselves that non-human living creatures didn’t even register as a blip in the consciousness of the screenwriters?
That’s how most of us approach the planet in our daily rat race devoted to “getting ours while we can”, sacrificing anything in our path in the process. Chop down another forest. Mine another mountain. Level the grasslands to build another strip mall. The mall isn’t necessary but it sure is convenient and why not, there was no loss to life right? Nope. Not as far as we can see. Not as far as we are concerned. Not to a species that doesn’t see any life other than itself. Jobs, the economy, growth, progress, etc. Any one of those is an excuse used to extinguish other life as we expand.
Captain America does make the slightest reference to other life when he says that he “spotted whales on the way in, there are less ships in the water is cleaner.” But this doesn’t mean the whales are recovering from what Thanos did, it means the whales finally have a chance to recover from what we do currently. Black widow responds by giving him a look and a response that amount to, “How dare you think of anything except our personal loss? “
Which brings me to the next overhanging theme of the film. We, under the impression that we are such a special, important species, believe that none of us should ever suffer loss, that every human death is a tragedy, no matter how worthless that particular deceased biped might have been. But for every other living creature on the planet we quite comfortably declare death as a part of life...”that’s nature.” Furthermore, the scenes shown following Thanos’s’ ‘snap’ made it seem as though the planet was reduced to a ghost town rather than the reality that 4 billion of us, still far too many than should ever exist, remained.
I’m not sure people grasp the rate at which we are multiplying...consider that even if Thanos had successfully killed 50% of humans (roughly 4 billion people) he’d have to come back in only 50 years to cut us down to 4 billion again. He must not have done his homework because it turns out destroying the Infinity stones after accomplishing his initial goal seems to have been a premature celebration.
A planet of 1,000 people, 20 million, 8 billion, 15 billion...it doesn’t seem to matter how many of us there are, we all desperately hold on to an ideal that each of us is important. I admit that it doesn’t feel good to think we aren’t important, but it doesn’t change the harsh truth. Our pursuit of shallow existences leaves us feeling hollow at the end of the road, no matter how impressive your collection of selfies in exotic locations may be by the end. A more meaningful life was available, something closer to an actual purpose was yours for the taking, but instead you were another human chasing the almighty dollar at the expense of the survival of the entire planet. The only thing that can change that is us. But change is difficult and since we’re in a position of power we don’t have to change. Just like a spoiled child that won’t put down the candy even while suffering a stomach ache.
Thanos is the disciplinary parent we need, but don’t want.
Now that I’ve offended you and your sense of importance you’re probably ready to pose the challenge of whether I’d be willing to sacrifice my own life. The answer is yes, with the guarantee of a planet free from the horrific dictatorship of humanity. My only regret would be not to see it myself.