Thus revealed, the creature buried its nose in the tire-tilled soil...
May 8, 2019
Snap Snap (Avengers: Endgame spoilers)

Spoiler ban is apparently lifted, so let's talk about Avengers: Endgame! (Obviously, if you care about spoilers and haven't seen it yet, stop reading now.)

So I had a lot of issues with this movie -- but let's start with an arguably kinda minor one toward the end. It's the sort of thing that makes me glad I saw the movie, since it's not an issue I'd thought a whole lot about, and yet the very fact that I'm thinking about it here lowers my opinion of the movie (and the writing/thought processes behind it) as a whole.

Film is a visual medium, right? So we rely on visual cues to convey information that shouldn't otherwise be necessary in order for certain things to happen. In Heroes, for instance, Sylar's signature power was telekinesis, not finger lasers -- so he shouldn't strictly have needed to do anything with his hands in order to activate that power. And yet whenever he sliced into someone's skull he'd point two fingers and, from a distance, trace the line of the incision, because it helped the viewer to follow the action. Intuitively I understood this, and yet I never actively questioned the gesture because it was so effectively done. The best instances of these gestures are often highly imitable; Heroes has been off the air for nearly a decade and I still routinely swipe two fingers to the side when passing through automatic doors.

So then we come to Thanos, and I'd also count the Snap in Infinity War as among the better instances of these gestures. Even though we assume that snapping one's fingers isn't the official activation method for the most powerful weapon in the universe (given the inclusion of the Mind Stone, it seems like a kind of psychic activation should be in the mix), it worked to convey the action and was supported by a nice bit of dialogue earlier in the film. So it was a Thanos-specific method of activation, and it worked well for that particular moment, and so I didn't much question it at the time. (Also, again, highly imitable. I didn't even particularly like Infinity War and I've been snapping my fingers here and there in the last year, sometimes while sporting the super cheap Infinity Gauntlet ring I ordered on eBay.)

But then we come to Endgame, and suddenly everyone's using the fingersnap, and there's a big mindless battle royale and the focus jumps to the two most powerful beings in the MCU and one of them is forcing the other's fingers apart in an express attempt to keep the other from snapping his flipping fingers. And I thought, "This is one of the dumbest things I have ever seen." So I'd say that was a particularly ineffective application of a gesture, since it prompted me to think more about the gesture -- and about placeholder visual cues in general -- than about the action taking place onscreen. (Though I admit that I pretty much always find those obligatory mega-battles hella boring, so I tend to latch onto other details or issues I find more interesting to ponder.)

And I couldn't help thinking it might've been cooler to have the other characters make use of some of their signature moves as activation cues. Hulk's gesture could have involved a fist or something (particularly if the power of the glove proved so overwhelming that he temporarily reverted to his smashier personality); Iron Man should have dropped from the sky and landed in his classic "superhero pose" that adorned so many Iron Man 1 movie posters and has since been the test position for any superarticulated Iron Man action figure released. In any case -- like so many other things about Endgame -- the overuse of the Snap didn't seem to work and didn't suggest to me that the writers thought a whole lot about what they were writing.

-posted by Wes | 1:28 pm | Comments (0)
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