The Simple Explanation: How Avengers beat Avatar’s record

‘Avengers Endgame’ has finally taken over from ‘Avatar’ as the world’s bestselling movie. Sort of, not quite, even though, why should you care, how come, what has taken over from who and other such queries descend upon your poor head to confound you.

Luckily, I am here to explain. Simply put, it is as follows.

‘Avatar’ is an old movie, relatively speaking, made in 2009, just around the new advent of 3D cinema.

It was about a bunch of humans who fly to another planet to exploit it out of its natural resources. Only they find it already occupied by a “savage native race”, as one does. Basically, it is a historical allegory so far.

The humans decide to take the stuff they want by force of war, since, after all, they are humans with space age technology. What do these natives have? Arrows and spears? What are they going to do with those except lose the battle?

The battle ensues and natives are slaughtered, and if memory serves me correctly, the humans take over and colonise the planet. They set up a  government there, and rule systematically wipe out swathes of the natives until they realise that it would be more cost-effective to let the remaining natives live and do the mining themselves, then export the precious minerals to humans at a lower cost, then they grant them “independence”.

Wait. My research department has just informed me that all that happened after the movie ended. In the movie itself the natives put up a spirited fight, led by a hero, a chosen one, a mighty saviour of whom their ancient lore had spoken, a messiah, he who would ride the flying dragon.

He leads the natives against the humans, somehow wins, kisses the girl and credits.

That is ‘Avatar’.

No need to mention at this point that the ‘Chosen One’ was a human being who infiltrated the natives’ society and then took the mantle of their champion as if Patrice Lumumba was actually a Liverpool miner in blackface, because that would lead to an entire can of worms exploding all over the page and we already went through that. No, don’t get triggered. Those worms were let loose, they wriggled frantically all over pages and pages of debate, and they died of old age. Let’s just agree to disagree about something else, like Boris Johnson and how wonderful a team he will make with Trump and how Angela Merkel is such a nasty woman.

Avatar was a huge hit, not merely because it so satisfyingly retold a reliably successful old story that always hits — from ‘Pocahontas’ to ‘The Last Samurai’ to that other film where the patriarchy was destroyed by a man in a dress— but also because it was— and this part is completely without controversy, it was amazing to look at.

It was the first real 3D movie experience worth the calories your optic nerves spent on it. It was spectacular. It was vivid and flamboyant and lush and epic and simply beautiful.

No wonder so many punters watched it over and over again.

It became the highest earning movie in the world and stayed the highest earning movie in the world for years.

Until ‘Avengers Endgame’ came along.

Now, ‘Avengers Endgame’ is a tricky and cunning little beast. What the studio makers did was spend 10 years making other movies, each of which amounted pretty much to a trailer for the next, until you had years of trailers stoking appetites for this one grand finale.

‘Avengers Endgame’, a story about how a bunch of heroic and heroically powered people save the world from an alien economist who felt that universal genocide would make a good resource balancing tool.

It was a very popular movie, and still is, because all the buildup movies were popular too. We had been brought to love the protagonists, the heroes, the anti-heroes, their banter, their relationships, their action scenes, their individual inner struggles… all that led us to watch it in our multitudes.

Thus was ‘Avengers Endgame’ positioned in a race against ‘Avatar’.

And this weekend the ‘Avengers’ money finally overtook the ‘Avatar’ money with $2.79 billion in ticket sales, stepping past Avatar’s $2.789 billion.

Although, inflation adjustments are brought into the picture, ‘Avatar’ is still in the lead, but then, well, ‘Avatar’ taught us that if it looks like a win, we celebrate it.

Never mind that Thanos wiped out half the Na’vi in ‘Avengers Infinity War’ anyway.