starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Pratt
screenplay by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely
directed by Anthony and Joe Russo
by Walter Chaw In the Nineties, DC comics resurrected a bunch of titles under their "Vertigo" aegis, aiming for if not more sophisticated, at least more mature storytelling, like Neil Gaiman's enduring, literary "Sandman" and Grant Morrison's still-unparalleled run on "Doom Patrol" (starting with issue 19). They were a re-entry for me into comics after a childhood collecting all things "Archie" and a few things "X-Men" and "Spider-Man". In the fifth issue of Vertigo's "Animal Man" reboot, Morrison writes a one-off called "The Coyote Gospel" in which Wile E Coyote (essentially) is maimed and murdered in any number of ways, only to painfully regenerate and be maimed and murdered again. I like to imagine sometimes the agony of Peter Parker's Uncle Ben, resurrected in endless franchise reboots for the purpose of being killed, Prometheus-like, over and over again. There's a pathos to it, I think, in the Camus existentialist sense: this emotional detachment where it's sort of impossible to tell if mom died today or, you know, maybe it was yesterday, one can't be too sure. Maybe pathos isn't the right word. Closer to the point is that it's impossible to really feel anything for characters who cannot die; impossible to feel tension or fear for things that cannot be harmed. Superhero comic books and Marvel films by extension broadly simulate the tenets explored by French Existentialism: alienation, the absurd, the lie of freedom, the experience of dread and boredom. The only MCU entry self-aware enough to notice this to date is Scott Derrickson's Dr. Strange. Fitting that Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) features so prominently in Avengers: Infinity War.