The Power of Pop Culture

With the release of Avengers: Endgame, the world has collectively mourned, and celebrated, this heavily awaited, visual culmination of beloved characters, whose adventures have poignantly defined modern pop culture. I dare say, this film has set the bar for how powerful film can be.

Of course, every movie is an experience. Every one of us probably has a film, or even a list of films, which assuredly bring tears to our eyes every time we watch it. From Titanic to The Notebook, Brokeback Mountain or Up – these are just a few of the most popularized examples which signify how strongly a film can affect us, and how a two-hour story can completely and utterly wreck us. However, this final installation within Marvel’s Phase 3 films ended up being quite a different, albeit powerful, experience.

The release of Avengers: Endgame has not only garnered attention on local news stations and dominated social media platforms, newspapers and online magazines, but the sheer amount of money it has been making reiterates how the Marvel brand has become a financial powerhouse. In a mere two weeks, it passed the 2 billion dollar mark at the global box office and is steadily on its way to becoming one of the highest-grossing films of all time. By creating a linked universe spanning across both film and television, Marvel has created a seamless world of popular culture, effortlessly blending technology, social media, and celebrity culture; the constant interaction between actors, directors and fans alike has only nurtured its success. It not only feels like we’re connected to these characters, but we truly are, in every way, shape or form. And this is simply the beginning. Children are already dominating each new comic film screening as Marvel is slowly molding their childhoods the same way ours was molded ten years ago. 

From merchandise, teasers to easter eggs, as well as annual conventions such as San Diego Comic-Con, which has been deemed the largest pop-culture festival in the world, to even language itself – the term ‘no spoilers’ has practically been adopted as official Marvel terminology. And as loyal fans, we have all learned to obey Marvel’s plea for secrecy. Marvel has simply perfected its use of modern technology and mass media, as we are able to reach out to our heroes and communicate with them in ways that used to be unimaginable. And I’m thoroughly grateful for that.

Marvel has singlehandedly changed the nature of the entertainment game. It knows its audience. It knows how much their characters mean to this audience, along with its battalion of A-list actors who have portrayed them over the past years. It has transformed itself into the commercial Thanos of modern cinema, but without the desire to eradicate half the world’s population, of course.

Now, do not continue reading from here if you haven’t seen Endgame yet. I’ve warned you. Both Black Widow and Iron Man die: they are the fallen heroes in the Avengers’ quest to reverse the effects of Infinity War and avenge the world for one final time. The ultimate climactic experience. Yet it was particularly Tony Stark’s death which has affected many unexpected and viscerally emotional ways. When entering the MCU, each actor signs a contract to appear in at least 2, 3 if not more films. Being one of the first MCU superheroes to brace the screen and with a whole trilogy under their belt, as well as the Avengers films, it is fair to say that most of us expected either Iron Man or Captain America to conclude their narrative arc with this film. Yet seeing Tony Stark utter his final lines from his first movie, “I am Iron Man”, as he sacrificed himself to save the world left the audience in a state of shocking silence.

Tears were streaming down my own face as I murmured under my breath, “You can’t kill off a character I’ve grown up with”. After all, I distinctly remember being nine years old and watching Iron Man on my 4th generation iPod nano. Today, I find myself sobbing in the cinema watching Endgame as a nearly twenty-year-old. With ‘Love you 3000’ as another, touching moment in the film, according to a couple of Instagram posts, the total runtime of all MCU movies is 3000 minutes: Marvel, you truly have your ways. These characters have shaped our childhood, and have cemented a sense of nostalgia which will never fade. What a journey it has been. 

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