Avengers Beat Avatar, but Avatar is Still Better

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Avengers Beat Avatar: Marvel’s Mega-Universe Finally Pays Off

Congratulations are in order. Avengers beat Avatar for the title of highest-grossing film ever. I’m a little torn about this one, personally, though. Strap in and get ready to roast me in the comments. Because for all of its flaws – and we’ll get to those soon enough – Avatar accomplished ten years ago what in one movie what it took Marvel twenty-two movies, and a re-release to set up and finally accomplish.

In other words, Avatar was still the bigger accomplishment. And Avatar paved the way to make all of those twenty-two Marvel movies possible. I mean, how on earth could we watch an endless stream of superheroes with tragic back-stories and totally unique demons destroy entire blocks of the cities they’re trying to save in any sort of convincing fashion had we not first seen blue Pandorans soaring atop dragon-things through the stunningly beautiful CGI world James Cameron created. So yeah, Avengers beat Avatar in the box office, but Avatar was the giant upon whose shoulders Marvel was standing.  

Full Disclosure and Disclaimer:

I have not seen all twenty-two of the MCU movies. I’ve seen seventeen of them, and admittedly, I haven’t seen Endgame yet, so take everything else I’m about to write with that in mind. My contention here isn’t that Avatar was a better movie than Endgame, anyway. I obviously wouldn’t know. What I am arguing, is that it took Marvel too damn long to get to this point.

Defending Avatar

First, let me acknowledge that there are a lot of flaws with Avatar. It’s been criticized for oversimplifying and bastardizing the theme of colonialization. There’s also the whole 3D debacle (which I’m pretty glad we’re mostly done with). The writing is not amazing, and only some of the acting is good.  I can say a lot of the same things for many of the MCU movies. 

Here’s where Avatar was a better achievement, though. It showed viewers, in one movie, a brand new world they’d never seen before, with a level of brilliance and sophistication never before seen in cinema. In other words, Cameron was showing audiences something amazing and different, and he did it with one movie. He didn’t need twenty-two versions of essentially the same monomyth story to set up a big finale that would become the highest-grossing movie. He did it in one self-contained movie.\

The Trouble with Sequels

It took me just under three hours to watch Avatar and be blown away by the stunning visual experience.  I felt the same way when I watched Ang Lee’s adaptation of Life of Pi. The first time I watched Iron Man, I felt the same way. By the time I got to the second or third Thor or Captain America movie I just started checking out. I had no coherent sense of where the overall story was going because there were just too many stories and characters to keep track of, and they were all basically on different versions of the same journey. It’s not that they’re not fun individually, it’s just that there are way too many. 

Read: “Terminator: Dark Fate” – Dare We Hope for a Return to Glory?

To Beat This Horse To Death

In this clip, a really rich guy with daddy issues and no respect for authority destroys half a city to save it.

This clip has a Norse god with daddy issues and a pain-in-the-ass brother destroying a city in order to save it.

 

 

Finally, this one has the other two heroes above doing more of the same. It also features a guy who had body-image issues until the government turned him into a super-soldier and gave him an invincible shield before freezing him for half a decade. On top of that, there’s also a couple of minor assassins with checkered pasts, and, of course, the guy whose anger issues turn him into a literal monster.  Oh yeah, and all of them are destroying the city they’re trying to save.

Now, keep in mind, this was just “Phase 1” of the MCU movies.  I could keep going, but I think the point has been made.

In Contrast

Here are two absolutely stunning clips from the same movie – which also (admittedly) follows the monomyth to a point, but does it – again – in ONE movie.

Lest you think I’m being too hippie-dippie about this, here’s another scene with some good old fashioned destruction.

Summing Up: Avengers Beat Avatar, I guess. I’m Too Tired to Watch

Look, I know James Cameron is already on the phone talking Avatar sequels.  I wish he weren’t. I’m cautiously optimistic about Terminator: Dark Fate, but only because T2 was one of the few sequels (Empire Strikes Back also comes to mind) that was as good as the original. I remember when the MCU first got rolling and we had a year or two of phase 1 thinking that this was going to be an issue. I just couldn’t keep up. Too many movies. Too much to keep track of. At least Cameron’s only talking four sequels, not twenty-two.

What Are Your Thoughts?

Go ahead. Lay them on me in the comments. I’d love to hear from you and see what you think! Or how about this? What movie should be the highest-grossing of all time?


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Brandon Humphreys

Brandon Humphreys

I'm a wizard. I write stuff and it goes from my head into yours - Magic! Apart from that, I am the Senior Editor for Space Porn, a veteran, a rock guitarist, and a teacher.

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2 Responses

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  2. MCU doesn’t have Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang). I remember back when there was a rumor he was going to play Cable. He made Avatar. Period.

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