IDEOLOGY AND AVENGERS INFINITY WARS: Zizekian Notes

AVENGERS INFINITY WARS is a very enjoyable film, which means that comes very close to pure ideology, and its protagonist Thanos arrives at a moment of enjoyment at the end of the film. His contentment is tinged with sadness, as he has sacrificed “everything” in service of his ideal of balance. Thanos is an idealist. Of course he is the villain, capable of totalitarian terror in pursuit of his ideal, but he sheds a tear at the “necessary” sacrifices, including his own personal sacrifice, and so gains a small amount of reluctant sympathy.

Some notes on the ideology of the film follow:

1) Thanos without Death: this is like de-caffeinated coffee or laxative chocolate. In the comic Thanos is in love with Death and seeks to restore “balance” at her order. In the film Thanos is an imperialist who applies the shock doctrine to the planets he invades, claiming that after his intervention (murdering half the population) the planet becomes “balanced”, and prosperous. Thanos is a liar (including to himself) and propagandist, an accomplished ideologist.

2) Top-down De-growth and Mechanical Repetition: According to Thanos, he creates sustainable utopias. However, he does not mention the suffering he produces, and its aftermath. Wielding the “infinite” power of the infinity gauntlet he merely repeats the same process on the scale of the universe. Nothing has changed here, as he will have to intervene each time the population has doubled.

3) Bad Infinity and Closed Totality: Despite possessing the six infinity gems, Thanos does not have the imagination to use all of them. He mainly uses the Power, Space and Time gems, and to a limited extent the Reality gem, but he does not think of altering the laws of physics to make the universe as a whole sustainable (e.g. by revising the second law of thermodynamics).

4) Love and True Infinity: Love is the deployment of a subjective infinity. By sacrificing his love (Gamora) to his ideal of Balance in order to obtain the Soul stone, Thanos would seem to guarantee that he will be unable to use it, having sacrificed the little soul that he possessed.

5) Non-noetic Montage: Thanos does not use the Mind stone or the Soul stone. In that, he is in the image of the film-maker, and the infinity gauntlet is an image of their power of montage.The film is mainly composed of scenes of combat, with the power of the attacks against Thanos constantly mounting in proportion to the progressive increase of his own power with the acquisition of each infinity stone.

6) Box Office Balance: The logical sequel is to deploy a hero with even more power than the preceding heroes, hence the teaser for Captain Marvel at the end. We know that some form of time-rewind or time travel will be used to restore balance in a commercial sense, a balance containing enough antagonisms to allow the Marvel Cinematic Universe to continue to prosper.

7) Holistic Terror vs Antagonistic Politics: Thanos does not empower people, but “solves” their problem for them, repetitively one planet at a time. Thanos is in denial of politics, the fidelity to the infinite as the collective labour of the possible, only the strategy of shock and awe, and thus of disempowerment. Terror is the imposition of “balance” by the most unbalanced means imaginable.

The Avengers will assemble long enough, as community of singularities (of marginals, freaks, outsiders), to defeat the totalitarian menace. After the ideological breach due to infinity being arrogated by one person is covered over, the usual democratic dissensus in the field of finitude will be re-established.

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3 Responses to IDEOLOGY AND AVENGERS INFINITY WARS: Zizekian Notes

  1. Robert Micallef says:

    Can you help this philosophical newbie out with your use of the concept of infinity? I suspect this is a dumb and broad question, but how else to begin?

    Like

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