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“We’re Not Soldiers”: The Cautious Superhero Optimism of “The Avengers”…

Before it was a Bomb, the Bomb was an Idea. Superman, however, was a Faster, Stronger, Better Idea. It’s not that I needed Superman to be “real,” I just needed him to be more real than the Idea of the Bomb that ravaged my dreams. I needn’t have worried; Superman is so indefatigable a product of the human imagination, such a perfectly designed emblem of our highest, kindest, wisest, toughest selves, that my Idea of the Bomb had no defense against him.

– Grant Morrison, Supergods

There was an idea, Stark knows this, called the Avengers Initiative. The idea was to bring together a group of remarkable people, see if they could become something more. See if they could work together when we needed them to to fight the battles we never could.

– Nick Fury, The Avengers

In hindsight, The Avengers looks like a sure bet; a bunch of recognisable characters from successful properties bound together to create a blockbuster.

It is a testament to how profoundly The Avengers has reshaped the media landscape in its image that this appears almost a given. In a world that has seen the release of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, the original film in the franchise seems almost quaint. Only six heroes? Only one primary villain, and one who was previously defeated by Thor in Thor? Sure, Thor is “the strongest Avenger”, but that seems almost quaint in this era of universe-spanning crossovers that fold on the expansive casts of films like Ant Man or Black Panther or Guardians of the Galaxy. Perhaps it is an ode to the power of  the idea that The Avengers feels so small in hindsight.

At the same time, there’s a maturity and reflection in the original Avengers that is largely lacking from Infinity War and Endgame. One of the most frustrating aspects of Infinity War and Endgame is the way in which the films devolve into unquestioning power fantasies; stories about great men who wield the power of gods for their own benefit with little regard for the obligations or responsibilities that come with that power. The characters of Infinity War and Endgame never question the use of their power for their own benefit, never contemplate their right to hold the fate of four different universes in their hands. Banner never questions the appeal of living as the Hulk forever, just as Thor insists on abandoning his people to have wack adventures with the Guardians of the Galaxy cast.

In hindsight, what is most striking about The Avengers is how fascinated it is with the question of what superheroes are, and what function they serve. Perhaps in keeping with the general enthusiasm of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or perhaps reflecting his own affection for the genre, Joss Whedon keeps coming back to the suggestion that superheros represent an idea and an ideal. They represent an idealised manifestation of American power and identity, quite literally contrasted at the end of the film with the horror and majesty of the atomic bomb.

The Avengers is a very different film than Infinity War and Endgame, even just in terms of structure and storytelling. Rewatching the film seven years later, and having recently rewatched both Infinity War and Endgame, the most striking thing about the film is the pacing and rhythms of the film. To be fair, Whedon is dealing with a much smaller cast, and this allows him the luxury of a more relaxed pacing. (Somewhat ironically, the pacing of The Avengers was accelerated by the standards of contemporaneous blockbusters – such as The Dark Knight Rises or Skyfall – but seems practically sedate compared to Infinity War or Endgame.) Indeed, the opening sequence of The Avengers lasts about five times as long as a similar sequence in Infinity War or Endgame would be allowed to.

However, this isn’t simply logistics. Whedon is remarkably disinterested in the actual plot of The Avengers. The story of the film is complete nonsense. Loki has assembled an alien fleet to invade Earth, and plans to do so by opening a portal using the Tesseract. The character’s motivations for attacking Earth are ambiguous at best. Why Earth? Why not Asgard? Why does Loki, a schemer and a trickster, plan to lead an invading horde? There are possible answers to these questions, but The Avengers is rather disinterested in them. Indeed, it’s notable that the single best thing about Thor: The Dark World is the effort it retroactively puts in to making sense of Loki’s motivations, suggesting that Loki was trying to imitate (and impress) his adoptive father Odin.

Similarly, there are large stretches of The Avengers where the plot just stops, where the characters stop moving forward. This is most obvious with the extended middle stretch of the film, which Whedon blatantly steals from The Dark Knight. Loki is apprehended by the eponymous superheroes in German and taken to helicarrier, where he is locked in a cage. This allows him to interact directly with the heroes and then to stage a dramatic and shocking escape as part of the second act’s action beats. This is a pretty solid structural element, but it was so common at the time that it feels almost derivative. Skyfall did something similar with Raoul Silva. The following year, Star Trek Into Darkness would do something similar with Khan Noonien Singh.

Even the movie’s big emotional beats feel transparent in their manipulations. The big death in the film is not one of the heroes, it is the character of Phil Coulsen. He is murdered by Loki during the aforementioned second act action scene. However, the characters understand exactly the narrative function that his death serves. As Fury comforts him, Coulsen states, “It’s okay, boss. This was never gonna work if they didn’t have something to…” He trails off, but the obvious missing word is “avenge”, with Coulsen seeing his death as a narrative function. Later, Fury steals Coulsen’s trading cards from his locker, presumably smears them with blood from Coulsen’s cold dead body, and then throws them at Steve Rogers to motivate the team. It is pageantry, showmanship.

Rewatching The Avengers, seven years removed from its original context, it is shocking how hard it would be to “spoil” the film, given the spoiler paranoia around Infinity War and Endgame. With the obvious exception of Coulsen’s death, there is very little that could be revealed about The Avengers that would diminish an audience’s enjoyment of it or reaction to it. After all, the film’s big setpieces are all driven by character interactions or the scale of spectacle on display. Again, this is perhaps demonstrates how much emphasis spoiler culture puts on plot as the most important part of the film, and an effective counter to it. The pleasures in The Avengers lie in Whedon throwing unlikely combinations together, having characters argue, and in his splash page cinematography.

These character beats are the strongest part of the film, and the kind of personality and agency sorely lacking from both Infinity War and Endgame. To be fair, as with the other Avengers films aside from (maybe) Infinity War, The Avengers struggles to figure out what to do with Thor. Notably, the character is the last major character to be introduced and later spends around twenty minutes standing in a field staring at his hammer. However, The Avengers finds room to throw Steve Rogers and Tony Stark into conflict in a manner that feels more revelatory and insightful than Captain America: Civil War, while also allowing Loki and Black Widow to riff on Silence of the Lambs. These character beats are the heart of the film, sorely absent from Infinity War and Endgame.

It is impossible to imagine the version of Captain America from Infinity War or Endgame casually asserting his faith. When Natasha likens Thor and Loki to gods, Steve replies, “There’s only one God, ma’am. And I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that.” It’s a clever line, a funny line, and a revealing line. It also affirms something interesting about Steve Rogers as a character. Of course he is a Christian, having come from the forties. More than that, it reflects the values that made Steve such a good soldier, the belief in an authority or power higher than himself, even when he didn’t take direct orders from it. Steve is a military man – he calls Tony “Mister Stark” and calls colleagues “sir” and “ma’am” – but he also serves higher ideals. Of course he’s religious.

Infinity War and Endgame would shy away from this idea, most likely for fear of potentially alienating audiences. Indeed, the most cynical aspect of Civil War is its stubborn refusal that its heroes don’t actually believe in anything at all beyond their own power and strength. It is amazing how economical Whedon’s characterisation of these superheroes can be, but its absence from later films is very jarring. The Avengers understands that these characters have rough edges that don’t smoothly fit together. While Infinity War and Endgame smooth those edges down for easy plot traction, The Avengers instead realises that these edges are the most interesting part of these characters, and watching them bounce off one another is the thrill of the team-up.

However, these character interactions are more than just fan service, they allow Whedon to bring his themes and ideas to the surface. As with a lot of superhero movies produced in the genre’s twenty-first century boom, The Avengers contextualises its heroes as part of the military industrial complex. This is not a surprise. Informed by the War on Terror, Batman Begins had done something similar in its characterisation of Wayne Industries to explain both where Bruce got his “wonderful toys” and to provide a broader social context for the vigilante. Notably, the climax of The Avengers is one of the defining superhero blockbusters to root the genre in the aesthetics – and not just the politics – of 9/11; the climax opens a hole in the sky over New York City, raining madness.

However, even without that particularly cultural context, it would never have been a stretch to imagine the eponymous heroes as a product of American military might. After all, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby produced many of these figures in the shadow of the atomic bomb and in the generation following the Second World War. Steve Rogers is the idealised American soldier. Tony Stark is a weapons manufacturer. The comic book version of Bruce Banner was irradiated after constructing a “gamma bomb”, while his big screen counterpart was working on super-soldier formula. Clint Barton is a government spy, and Natasha Romanoff is a veteran assassin. In that context, perhaps Thor truly is the odd one out of the team.

The Avengers returns time and again to the idea of the Avengers as an expression of American military might and superiority. “War isn’t won by sentiment, Director,” an anonymous member of the overseeing “Council” advises Nick Fury. Fury responds, simply, “No, it’s won by soldiers.” Although Fury claims to be hoping to harness the Tesseract as a source of “unlimited sustainable energy”, it quickly comes clear that he plans to harness it “to build weapons of mass destruction.” The obvious implication is that Fury sees the Avengers as filling a similar role. After Coulsen dies, Steve chides Tony, “Is this the first time you’ve lost a soldier?” Tony protests, “We’re not soldiers!” This is the central tension running through the film.

A lot of the stronger and more interesting superhero films of the twenty-first century are fascinated by this tension between the superhero and the military-industrial complex, with many being openly cynical. Iron Man 3 is very much a film about the dangers of the sort of power suggested by superheroes, at one point even directly evoking the shadows at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in exploring a botched weapons project that is being developed in parallel with “the Iron Man”, and culminating in Tony Stark’s decision to initiate the “clean slate protocol” that destroyed all of his suits of armour. Naturally, Avengers: Age of Ultron rolled back this touch, instead escalating Tony’s fetishisation of “the Iron Man” into plans to build “a suit of armour around the world.”

Similarly, Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy remained decidedly ambivalent about its central character’s use of military technology and methodology for urban pacification. Most notably, The Dark Knight Rises found Ban weaponising Bruce’s military technology to impose a military occupation of Gotham City. The film very visceral and very explicitly evoked the contemporaneous military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, therefore wedding the concept of the superhero to American foreign policy. (Earlier, The Dark Knight featured Bruce using “operation skyhook” to orchestrate an “extraordinary rendition” from Hong Kong and using wiretaps to spy on Gotham’s population without their knowledge or consent.)

These films understood that the superhero was an expression of a particular form of American exceptionalism, and that it was worth unpacking or exploring that. Again, these ideas simmer through in Infinity War and Endgame, but without an ounce of introspection or insight. Like so many modern superhero movies, Infinity War and Endgame are shaped and informed by the horrors of 9/11, from the circular ring (or hole) over New York during the Ebony Maw’s attack to the memorial in San Francisco, from the two towers overlooking Vormir to the shots of the bodies lying broken and bent at the base. Even the central narrative of Infinity War and Endgame is about trying to move past a trauma, but being unwilling to do so. However, there’s no introspection.

The Avengers is nowhere near as deconstructive or cynical as Iron Man 3 or The Dark Knight. However, it remains much more engaged and introspective than Infinity War or Endgame. Notably, The Avengers repeatedly makes a point to stress how conflicted these characters are about the power that they wield. While Joss Whedon works hard to soften the edges of Bruce Banner, it’s notable that both Avengers and Age of Ultron paint the Hulk as a clear and present danger. In contrast, Infinity War and Endgame suggest that Bruce should be trying to do everything that he can do to exploit the raw power of the Hulk without any consideration of the potential destruction that this raw power might cause.

The Avengers emphasises the importance of its characters as heroic ideals, especially Captain America. Steve wonders whether he can even wear the stars and stripes in the present day. “Aren’t the stars and stripes a little old-fashioned?” he asks. Coulsen responds, “Everything that’s happening, the things that are about to come to light, people might just need a little old-fashioned.” This is more engagement than the codename “Captain America” receives in films like Civil War, Infinity War and Endgame, where it would arguably merit much greater discussion. After all, Civil War opens with the character leading a team on a dangerous (and unsanctioned) mission on sovereign soul. Wearing the stars and stripes in that context feels like it merits discussion.

Similarly, while Natasha Romanoff was a spy and an assassin, a living instrument of government policy, The Avengers makes it clear that she is no longer these things. Indeed, Loki turns Clint Barton into a murderous killing machine, an instrument rather than a person. Indeed, Clint and Natasha both bond over the fact that they refuse to be living weapons once again. Their decision to team up with the Avengers reflects growth, a conscious effort to be more than just unstoppable killing machines. While Tony insists that the team were never soldiers, Clint and Natasha are characters who have consciously chosen to no longer be soldiers.

Again, this provides a strange contrast with the later movies, which tend to focus on the Avengers as killers and soldiers. Most notably, Clint’s visceral reaction to being used by Loki in The Avengers is in stark contrast to his embrace of homocidal mania in Endgame. While Avengers suggests that both Natasha and Clint were transformed into weapons against their will, Endgame seems to suggest that Clint’s choice to embark on a brutal killing spree without reference to due process is a relatively defensible use of his skills and powers; while Natasha and Rhodey are unsettled by it, nobody believes that it should disqualify Clint from the world’s greatest superhero team.

More than that, the climaxes of both Infinity War and Endgame turn the central heroes into a literal army. The climax of Infinity War unfolds on the fields of Wakanda, with the heroes leading the charge. The climax of Endgame scales this up exponentially, giving the heroes a composite army to command; the soldiers from Wakanda, but also the Asgardians of legend and the trainees of the Sorcerer Supreme. These contextualise the characters as generals leading an army into battle. This is a world where Tony Stark recruits the untrained Peter Parker to fight by his side in Civil War, and where the teenage Peter Parker utters the command “activate instant kill” on the field of battle. The militarism of which The Avengers was openly wary is baked into Infinity War and Endgame.

However, while The Avengers broaches topics like this, it is rarely cynical about them. The climax of The Avengers spends a lot of time focusing on the civilians affected by the heroes’ actions. At one point during the battle, Steve stops to consult with the New York Police Department. “I need men in these buildings. There are people inside that can run into the line of fire. You take them through the basement or through the subway, you keep them off the streets – I need a perimeter as far back as thirty-ninth.” Similarly, Steve later rescues a group of hostages cornered by aliens. There is a tangible sense of these heroes as doing everything that they can to protect the civilians around them.

More to the point, Whedon makes an effort to focus on these civilians. An anonymous waitress is rescued by Steve, only to reappear later as a talking head on television. “Captain America saved my life. Whatever he is and whatever any of them are, I just just want a say thank you.” Towards the end of the film, there is a montage of news coverage that offers a sense of place and context for these heroes, Nick Fury watching as the world reacts to these heroes who have literally fallen from the sky – whether flying by hammer or repulsor beam, or jumping from a helicarrier. There is a sense in which these heroes exist relative to people in the real world, that they power they hold can be placed in perspective. Age of Ultron did something similar.

Unfortunately, the later Marvel Studios films moved away from this. The civilians who appeared in Civil War existed primarily to make the superheroes feel bad about their powers – the grouchy and cynical General Ross, the downbeat Mariam Sharpe still mourning the loss of her son, the villainous Helmut Zemo who threatens to destroy the superhero team. However, at least these characters had roles in Civil War. The non-superhero characters in Infinity War and Endgame are minimal at best; Ned appears in two scenes bookending the action, Ross appears via holographic conference call and in a crowd scene, the Collector is brutally murdered by Thanos off-screen and is played back for the benefit of the Guardians.

The inclusion of an openly gay character in Endgame has been making headlines, and attracting cynicism. The sequence is the first openly gay character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He is played by one of the directors and treated with respect and empathy by Steve. The entire sequence presupposes empathy, and treats the idea of a gay relationship as normal. However, the scene also appears tokenistic. The character does not get a scene with his partner, even at the end of the film. The reference is brief and made in dialogue, so could easily be cut for overseas distribution. Even beyond that, it exists in the context of Endgame aggressively asserting the heterosexuality of Steve Rogers, a character famously shipped with his male best friend.

At the same time, there’s a sense that this anonymous gay character is the only developed human character who exists in the world of Infinity War and Endgame. It is perhaps revealing that the Stan Lee cameos in the Marvel Cinematic Universe became increasingly obvious in the later films, as there were fewer and fewer places to hide him. The climaxes of Infinity War and Endgame both involve epic superhero battles on Earth, but completely removed from any sense of humanity, which adds to the sense of encroaching militarism. These are battlefields, not showdowns. Infinity War features a sprawling brawl on the fields of Wakanda, quite separate from the city. Endgame has Thanos level the Avengers compound in upstate New York.

There is no sense of how ordinary people must be reacting to conflict on this scale, how the news is covering the biggest land battles since the end of the Second World War. There is no moment at which the governments of the world consider their reaction to the horrors on this vastly cosmic scale. In fact, there’s no sense of how society at all has responded. Endgame features a few short scenes of characters responding to the consequences of the closing moments of Endgame, but how does that affect things like public opinion of superheroes? Scott Lang knows the name Thanos before he finds Steve and Natasha, so Thanos is common knowledge. Does the public know that the Avengers failed? If so, why are kids still taking pictures with the Hulk?

To be fair, there is a fairly reason for this. Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice carried the urban devastation of the twenty-first century superhero film past its logical end point, most obviously with the opening scenes of Batman vs. Superman evoking the trauma of 9/11 in a manner more explicit than even The Avengers. These movies generated an extremely aggressive reaction from fans, perhaps wary of being confronted with something that he previously been buried beneath the bright colours and high saturation of The Avengers and Age of Ultron. The decision to retreat from showing the human consequences of these sorts of battles is most likely to have been informed by this.

However, this all contributes to a loss of sense of meaningful scale and purpose. Who do the Avengers fight for? Who do the Avengers represent? What is their purpose? Too often in Infinity War and Endgame, it seems like they serve their own agendas and conduct their own business. Their authority is never questioned. From Civil War onwards, there is an implicit understanding that characters like Steve Rogers know what is best and have the moral authority to impose their will upon the world without any thought for the consequences of their actions or the people affected by their decision. In Infinity War and Endgame, the primary motivation of the team seems to be pride rather than compassion.

This is disappointing, because there is something endearing humanist at the heart of The Avengers. Whedon’s work with the characters is undoubtedly informed by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch’s celebrated comic book series The Ultimates, to which he provided an enthusiastic introduction. However, while drawing from that source, Whedon does not share Millar’s cynicism about superheroes. Instead, Whedon seems closer to Millar’s mentor and influence, the comic book writer Grant Morrison. Morrison is one of the most influential and successful comic book writers of the twenty-first century, and a huge fan of superheroes.

Morrison’s core theses is that superheroes do not exist as an extension of the same military-industrial complex that produced the nuclear bomb, but as an alternative to it. Whedon riffs on this, suggesting that superheroes embody the potential power of the American military apparatus, and that their power should give people (including themselves) pause. One of the most striking decisions in The Avengers, and an example of how Marvel Studios underestimated its appeal, is the decision at the end of the film to have the heroes split up and go off the grid, understanding that centralising that sort of power could only lead to bad things.

Nick Fury hands over the Tesseract to Asgard, along with “the war criminal Loki”, understanding the boundaries of human jurisdiction. “How does it work now?” one of Fury’s supervisors asks. “They’ve gone their separate ways, some pretty extremely far,” Fury explains. “We get into a situation like this again, what happens then?” another representative asks. “They’ll come back,” Fury explains. “Because we’ll need them to.” It is an exchange that speaks to the heart of The Avengers. There’s an anxiety about concentrating that much power in one place, but also an optimism about how that power could be used should it ever become necessary. It’s a push-and-pull dynamic, but probably the best way to approach this sort of idea.

Notably, the climax of The Avengers actually draws directly from Morrison’s central thesis by directly juxtaposing the Avengers with the spectre of nuclear might. Iron Man 3 would do the same thing a year later, albeit in a rather more cynical fashion. In The Avengers, the situation in Manhattan provokes two responses. The Avengers themselves are one such example, trying to contain the threat and protect civilians. The nuclear missile launched towards Manhattan to seal the rift is juxtaposed against the heroes. The implication is clear. These superheroes are a manifestation of the same energy and power associated with the nuclear bomb, but they can be a more benign idea. They can be a more idealised expression of the sheer force that defines American self-interest.

The Avengers fundamentally understands the difference between the bomb and the superhero, two defining images of American power. While American writers often struggle to grapple with the enormity and the horror of that level of power as compared to external observers, The Avengers at least has its heart in the right place. The Avengers are not just power, they are conscience. They are not just super, they are heroes. There is an infectious romance around The Avengers, which makes an earnest and genuine argument in favour of the superhero as an important cultural institution because it represents a responsible and application of such power.

The Avengers is the best film in the series, in large part because it never loses sight of that.

8 Responses

  1. It was the weak plot of the Avengers that made me wonder what all the fuss was all about. I also hated how easily each Avenger could defeat (or in Nat’s case, outwit) the main villain. If Loki’s so easy to defeat, then why have seven heroes at all? And if Thanos was behind it all, why didn’t he just invade Earth himself with the Chitarri in tow? Why did Loki want the hulk, and so on, and so on.
    I think the biggest problem with the MCU is that so many entries are released simultaneously, that viewers never get to have time to sit and “chew” on the films. Everyone was gushing over Black Panther, then when Infinity War came out, it was pretty much forgotten. Great article though, very insightful.

    • All of that’s fair. I’m more inclined to forgive it in Avengers rather than Infinity War, because Avengers at least seems self-aware. It’s a film that’s consciously playing with superhero tropes, and so the fuzzy internal logic of superhero stories is a natural fit. (Loki’s motivations within the film are non-existent.) In contrast, Infinity War and Endgame take themselves so self-importantly that it’s suffocating.

  2. “One of the most striking decisions in The Avengers, and an example of how Marvel Studios underestimated its appeal, is the decision at the end of the film to have the heroes split up and go off the grid, understanding that centralising that sort of power could only lead to bad things. Nick Fury hands over the Tesseract to Asgard, along with “the war criminal Loki”, understanding the boundaries of human jurisdiction. “How does it work now?” one of Fury’s supervisors asks. “They’ve gone their separate ways, some pretty extremely far,” Fury explains. “We get into a situation like this again, what happens then?” another representative asks. “They’ll come back,” Fury explains. “Because we’ll need them to.” It is an exchange that speaks to the heart of The Avengers. There’s an anxiety about concentrating that much power in one place, but also an optimism about how that power could be used should it ever become necessary.”

    Interestingly, this is actually pretty close to the traditional American view of how the military should work. Armies are something you raise in times of great crisis (the Revolution, the Civil War, World War One, World War Two) and then disband when it’s over, with most of the soldiers going back to their actual lives in the civilian world, leaving only a relatively small force of professionals behind. Because keeping a huge and powerful standing army around on a permanent basis is viewed as inherently dangerous to democratic freedoms.

    (Key word: “traditional.” It hasn’t exactly worked that way for the last seventy years).

    • Fascinating. I did not realise this. Do you have any article/book recommendations, because I’d love to delve into this a bit more? It would certainly explain a lot? (I know the U.S. military obviously became a much larger part of American life post-Second World War, but I never realised the cultural change was this significant.)

  3. One could argue that these themes can become overplayed. After all how many movies can we watch where Bruce Banner mopes on and on about being the Hulk ? How many movies can we watch where Superman broods about the impact he is having on earth ? It can get tiring for people to watch. In the early 2000s a lot of Superhero movies were like this. Movies like Daredevil and Superman returns were criticized for being too introspective and Batman V Superman really hammered the point in. It almost seemed like the people making these movies were really cynical about superheroes and were desperately trying to justify the existence of these movies to the audience. I would be interested in hearing how would you suggest future superhero movies handle introspection without coming across as overbearing ?

    • My counterpoint to that would be that the Dark Knight trilogy was released after Daredevil and Superman Returns, and was still introspective and insightful and massively successful – critically, culturally, commercially. The problem with Daredevil and Superman Returns wasn’t that they were introspective. It was that they were bad. (In particular, Superman Returns is an abomination.) In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I think that both Avengers and Iron Man III are introspective, as are – to a certain extent – Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther.

      So my suggestion would be to hire talented writers and directors and let them do what they want.

      • Not to mention the DCAU which consistently executed comic book storylines in the best way possible and subverted them at times. It’s really possible to do almost anything with good enough writing (which the DCAU certainly had), even breathe fresh life into decades old properties.

      • Yep. I didn’t include the DCAU because it was a little early; it ended in 2006. But you’re right. That penultimate season of Justice League (I think it’s the first season of Justice League Unlimited) plays very much like the kinda thing that Batman vs. Superman was trying to do. (And which I respect a big bombastic blockbuster for trying to do, however misshapen the results.)

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