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Opinion: Disney is Challenging My Childhood

Andrew Hackworth, Editor

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WARNING: Spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War and Star Wars: The Last Jedi! Read at your own risk!

 

I will admit this with no shame: I cry at movies. Like, probably too much. In the past year, some real tearjerkers include Paddington 2 and Call Me By Your Name. However, there have been two in particular that have left me quite literally sobbing in my seat: The Last Jedi and Infinity War. Now, you may be saying to yourself, “Wow, you seriously sound like a huge weenie. Last Jedi was not even sad, and besides they are just movies anyway!” Well, first of all it is not nice to call people names, and second let me defend my tears.

Children are influenced by most everything that they witness, and that includes the media they consume. That statement is extremely self evident; just look at any kid playing pretend. You will witness a whole cast of pop culture characters: Wonder Woman, Harry Potter, Ariel, Indiana Jones. The list goes on and on. Kids look up to these characters, and I was no exception. My biggest heroes? Peter Parker and Luke Skywalker. Both of these characters start their journeys as people of no merit, of no note. The only things they have are their sense of right and wrong and a desire to do good. Then they are thrown into a new world with newfound abilities to fight evil. They stand for what is right, and even when they lose sight of that they still come back around and defend the forces of good.

Beyond chlidhood, I still cherish these characters. They are still inspirations for me, guides to how I should act in order to be the good person, the hero, that I want to be.

At the announcements that Disney would be buying out Lucasfilm and Marvel Studios, acquiring the rights to my beloved characters, I was excited. I could not wait to see what they would do with these movies, see how they would evolve them, grow them, challenge them, all while trusting that they would not radically change or alter them in some way that made them lesser heroes.

(This is where the spoilers start. You have been warned.)

Aaaaand now they are dead! Both of them! Dead! Gonzo! Kicked it! Passed on! D. E. A. D. Dead.

To be fair, their deaths are not poorly done or disrespectful to the characters. Luke began The Last Jedi jaded and disenfranchised with the Jedi religion, but throughout the film we see him come to terms with his disenfranchisement and he comes back around to the light side of the Force. As his life slips away, he witnesses the two suns of Ahch-To rise, mirroring the two suns of his home planet of Tatooine. Then he peacefully fades away into the Force. It is a calming, powerful, bittersweet moment. He may be gone, but it is okay because his story has ended satisfyingly and he leaves the world ultimately better because of his actions.

Spider-man’s death in Infinity War is not quite as nice. Thanos has just accomplished his goal of acquiring all of the Infinity Stones, granting him the power to kill half of the universe in a single snap of his fingers. Slowly, one by one, we see some of our favorite characters turn to ash, simply fading out of existence as everyone else watches helplessly. No one’s death is as truly heartbreaking, as soul-wrenching, as Peter’s though. Uttering the phrase, “Mr. Stark, I don’t feel so good,” he collapses into Tony’s arm, his face relaying his myriad of emotions: shock, fear, pain. Nothing in recent memory has been as devastating as seeing him turn to ash, leaving nothing but confusion, hurt, and not a clue as to what happens next.

Now you can understand the strong emotional reaction I had while seeing these movies, especially Infinity War. Watching as two of my biggest role models, my heros, these two characters that I have learned from, known, and loved since adolescents, are gone.

However, I do not regret these moments.

Both of these movies are some of my favorite that I have ever seen. They are well made movies: great actors, great writing, great directing, great basically everything. It is hard to be angry at these deaths when they are so well done. They are made to be emotional, to dig deep into your heart and tug at those heartstrings, and they certainly do their job.

I am not saying that I am not watching any more Star Wars or Marvel movies. On the contrary, I have to continue to watch them in the hopes to see Luke or Peter again. (I had better see Peter again. He has to come back to life. I mean, they have already announced that Spider-man: Homecoming is getting a sequel. If he is permanently dead… I do not know how I could go on.)

All of this is to say that I am simultaneously very happy and very sad with the direction of these movies. I hope they can keep up the quality of film. Maybe we can cut back on the hero killing though. Just a little?

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