Before Avengers Endgame, here’s exploring its deep connect with mythology
Joe Russo one half of the Russo Brothers who directed Avengers Endgame, Avengers: Infinity War and Captain America: Civil War, had said that a video from India inspired the team while shooting while shooting the concluding film in Infinity saga. The director says the reception a Marvel Cinematic Universe film received in India helped them get over the moments when chips were down. With Avengers: Endgame set to release on Friday in India, here is a deep dive into what makes the such a huge draw in India.
While the larger-than-life spectacle, high production value and well-done VFX are the obvious reasons why India loves the Avengers, the connect goes deeper than that. The very concept of superheroes may be linked to Eastern mythology. Common people realising their hidden powers and defending the larger cause of humanity is a common philosophical line in almost all mythological stories in India and so is the case with most of the superhero films in Hollywood, including Avengers.
The trend is not new - the cult 90s movie The Matrix used the concept of Maya (illusion) that finds resonance in Hindu mythology. The word maya is used often to signify the illusion that gods can create.
While Avengers borrows its legends from across the world, including Norse mythology, an interesting parallel can be found in the subcontinent. As per Hindu mythology, the Trinity –Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh are the creator, observer and destroyer of the universe, respectively, and every other God has a separate identity, power and role to play - much like the Avengers who are a team of superheroes with special, unique powers and traits, come together to save the world.
Eastern philosophy and spirituality have reportedly also influenced the Star Wars series, X-Men and Batman movies. Even the idea of transcending time and space – as shown in Interstellar and Inception -- could be traced back to the principle of rebirth in Hindu mythology.
In Star Wars, Skywalker’s close encounter with Darth Vader reveals how positive and negative energies are within everyone and even the heroes need to conquer the villains within. This concept is also one of the common beliefs in Hinduism. Chants like ‘Aham Brahasmi – I am God - or even Har Har Mahadev (‘Every person is Lord Shiva’) assert that humans are mere reflections of the larger being, the Almighty.
Star Wars creator George Lucas once said, “When the film came out, almost every single religion took Star Wars and used it as an example of their religion and — and were able to relate it to young people and saying, ‘This is what’ — and relate the stories specifically to the Bible and relate stories to the Koran and, you know, the Torah and things. And so it’s like, you know — if it’s a tool that can be used to make old stories be new and relate to younger people, that’s what the whole point was.”
What we saw as mutants in X-Men, can be equated to some characters from our mythological stories - Nandi, Narsimha, Garuda, Hanuman, and Varaha are some examples of creatures with disfigured bodies but possessing super human powers..
Talking about the India-connect of Hollywood movies, producer Peter Radar had told The Guardian, “Look at the first Matrix movie. It’s a yogic movie. It says that this world is an illusion. It’s about maya – that if we can cut through the illusions and connect with something larger we can do all sorts of things. Neo achieves the abilities of the advanced yogis [Paramahansa] Yogananda described, who can defy the laws of normal reality.”
“A lot of people know that if we quieten down we can tap into a deeper power. And the movies that tap into that, like Star Wars and Interstellar, are hugely popular. Audiences know what the film is telling them, they have a sense that this story is working on a deeper level. It’s telling them that there’s more to life than just the ordinary. That there’s something much bigger, and they’re a part of it,” he added.
Coming back to Avengers Endgame, with superheroes Thor, Hulk, Ironman, Superman, Spiderman, among others, the film is all set for a grand opening in India on April 26, where it releases in English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. BookMyShow has witnessed a record advance ticket sale with 2.5 million tickets sold in advance booking. The ticketing website witnessed a peak of 18 tickets per second.
Critic Mayank Shekhar told Hindustan Times, “Our ‘usual’ audience loves spectacle, scale, big-screen experience that Bollywood finds impossible to match and that Hollywood, through its massively budgeted franchise, and reboot model, has managed to corner audiences with, working hard, over the recent years—penetrating small-town theatres with customised local language versions. Avengers is as much a desi film franchise as any other.”
The film stars Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner. At over three hours long, Avengers Endgame is the longest Marvel film.
Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt will soon see the release of Brahmastra - the first film in Ayan Mukerjee’s fantasy trilogy that, perhaps, follows a similar thought process. The short teaser talked of a weapon that comes from ‘our history and holds the power of the entire universe’. Brahmastra is an all-powerful weapon that can destroy everyone, even the gods.
The author tweets @swetakaushal
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