Avengers: Endgame Is the Millennial Generation’s Lawrence of Arabia


Avengers: Endgame Is the Millennial Generation’s Lawrence of Arabia

Illustration: Shruit Yatam

Walking out of the gut-wrenching rollercoaster that is Avengers: Endgame, the fanboy in me could only think of one thing — watching it all over again. And again, and again. It’s undisputedly the biggest movie event in recent memory, so much so that Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, and Chris Hemsworth, in their roles as Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor have become the unofficial mascots of Hollywood this decade. And if there’s one word that perfectly describes this movie, it is “big”; not in terms of its runtime or wank-worthy IMAX aspect ratio. But there’s something about this movie that is stirring in a way that movies such as Lawrence of Arabia or The Maltese Falcon are.

It’s a story 11 years in the making, told with a magnanimity rivalling the Hollywood epics of old, movies that cost the GDP of a small South American country. Movies that I’d watched on VHS with my father. Then it struck me: This is a movie I want to watch with my kids someday.

My dad, an old-school Catholic hardass, used to work overseas. So what little bonding time I got with him while growing up was while watching cinematic masterpieces like Ben-Hur or Cleopatra, on pirated VHS tapes from the Middle East. This was the early ’90s, when Napster reigned supreme over the vastness of the internet, the TamilRockerz hadn’t begun rocking yet, and going to the movies sucked because of bedbug-infested movie theaters that lacked air-conditioning and reeked of the ripe funk of a 1,000 different bodies basking in the fetid darkness.

It’s a story 11 years in the making, told with a magnanimity rivalling the Hollywood epics of old, movies that cost the GDP of a small South American country.

We’d often jam a VHS tape into our old tape player and sit in silence for hours as the action unfolded on an old Akai TV. The men would take their appointed places on chairs or wobbly wooden stools, and I’d sit on the floor or my mother’s lap as we watched everything from spaghetti westerns starring Sergio Leone, to reruns of America’s Funniest Home Videos. Six-year-old me felt like I belonged to this motley crew of bearded ruffians smoking 555 cigarettes and drinking London Pilsner. They’d teach me grown-up stuff, like the proper way to pour a beer or give me a dab of whiskey off the tips of their pinky fingers as they regaled me with anecdotes about their younger selves.

For instance, there was the time when my uncle told me about his first kiss when he was in school, and they were taken to a screening of McKenna’s Gold along with the students from the all-girls school next door. Or the bath house scene in Cleopatra when all that stands between Elizabeth Taylor’s exquisite form and the world is a single sheet. Rather than fast-forwarding past it, my dad and uncles took it upon themselves to have “the talk” with me, whilst painting Elizabeth Taylor as a timeless beauty no man could possess.

This was the “father-son time” I heard about so often from my friends, but rarely experienced first-hand, until that VHS tape would slide in and my father’s bitter and crabby demeanor would soften a little. He’d tell me about the time my grandfather found him looking at pictures of Elizabeth Taylor he’d secretly stashed in one of his books, or about how Roger Moore was a way better James Bond than all the others combined.

In essence, these movies took them back to a time and place in their past, to their formative years, when they were in a state of flux, stuck between the boys they were and the men they’d go on to become. They passed down their key learnings like a group of Native American elders around a roaring fire, with the flicker of the fire replaced with the glow of the CRT and its rudimentary approximation of ROYGBIV.

This is what Endgame is to me. Life has come full circle for me from being the geeky kid whooping in excitement when Tony Stark donned the Mark 1 suit, when Iron Man came out in 2008.

Watching the Avengers’ swansong, a movie that is the realest Marvel movie to date is an experience. This three-hour tribute to the best of the MCU, and of course its creator Stan Lee, does a damn fine job of humanising heroes by rendering them helpless and humbled by the one enemy they can never defeat: fate. All of this is punctuated with moments of levity, such as the hilarious, overweight drunk Thor and the creation of the “Asguardians of the Galaxy and further made wholesome by the heroes’ quest for love and friendship while they look for a way to undo the havoc wreaked by Thanos… all of this goes toward making this more than just a multi-billion dollar franchise.  

Someday, when I have kids, I want to be able to sit them down and put on a copy of Avengers: Endgame and tell my kids all about the time I lived, worked, and fucked in an economic purgatory, where the world was blowing up one car bomb at a time, the right wing was on the rise, and climate change was an imminent danger. Hopefully, they’ll live in a better tomorrow, and I have stories to share with them, beyond just the ones about Thanos and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.