From the ruins of a devastating defeat at the fingers of Thanos, the Avengers come around to push the narrative that collective bargaining agreements and a unionised workforce can triumph.
Triumph in the sense that things feel like they are put back together. That the crew is once again working toward a common goal. Whatever that is. Delivering widgets, sewing socks, making people not disappear into more dust particles, etc. And here we are in Avengers: Endgame.
Like many places of employment the banding of its personnel is either gelatinous or strained. They may force themselves with team activities and retreats to present a work “family” that matters, but that only works if there is no back-story or home to go to after a day of mental and physical exhaustion tilling the spills. Here, with the Avengers, we’re on the strained spectrum. A band years long after Agent Phil Coulson’s (Clark Gregg) death linked them into a team now picking up after Civil War and its revelations.
Through the beady eyes of Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) we see that mobilising workplace reform cannot rest on the shoulders of single person. It takes reaching out into the network to find the like-minded willing to listen and act on the upsurge. To start the ball rolling up the hill they need extra elbows to add weight behind the notion. And it takes convincing as Lang does the rounds of pushing the idea that perhaps they can get back to where they once were. They can’t of course, that’s the nature of time moving on and people being fired with or without cause, now having to scrape together whatever under the table wages they can eke. Yet they try.
Under the glint of everyone running around in their suits there’s a lot of backroom dealings and negotiations happening. Between Natasha Romanov/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) there is intonation of the ramifications of work/life imbalance and where it falls on the whole social construct and perceived worth on the workplace totem pole. Both of them find the underlying discourse difficult enough that they lie on circumstance in order to make the other not feel as bad about the situation. They resolve it, but at what cost?
On the conversation between Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) and The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) they get into the tricky nature of bargaining without leverage, relying only on a good word of mouth and, in a roundabout way, personal reference check. A tense situation where the outcome hinges on being able to talk with reason in an unreasonable situation. It’s a scene like this that gives pause to the ratification of whatever ends up being in those workplace conditions after a strike or revolt to push some change.
And there it is on the union worksheet. Everyone being a part of the collective works better together if they have each other’s backs. It’s an ideal world where there are no slackers doing only so as much paying in union fees and taking the ride with the rest of the actual workers putting in an effort to come about with change and reform. They can’t do it alone. They need each other. That’s the whole point of the team and it keeps showing up in the various battle scenes and placements. Even if they split up into departments and divisions, if they all know what the end goal is then it’s a total effort.
Reviewed on Sunday, 2 June 2019
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