In the last week, I have watched Avengers: Endgame over 10 times. Every viewing had me thinking about how many sequences could be tied to Mental Health. In Steve Rogers’ support group, 5 years after the snap, you see that people are still struggling with the aftereffects of Thanos’ actions. We see Thor as a demigod who is utterly dejected because he was not able to stop Thanos. Hawkeye essentially gives in to his darkness and becomes a vigilante assassin, and we, as the audience, see him struggle with this later when he and Natasha are retrieving the soul stone from Vormir. While I feel like there could be in depth pieces about all these moments, I am not the one to write about those.
The sequence I want to write about starts at about 2 hours and 12 minutes into Endgame. If you are not familiar, this is the sequence when Captain America, Thor and Iron Man are fighting Thanos in “the trench”. In my recent viewings, I saw myself as Captain America, I saw Iron Man and Thor as my medication and therapy, and finally I saw Thanos as an embodiment of my anxiety and depression.
Throughout this fight, the heroes are having a tough time with Thanos. Cap, Thor, and Iron Man were fighting as a team, but nothing would keep Thanos down. While watching this scene, I realized that like Thanos, my depression and anxiety seemed to adapt to whatever treatment I was receiving. No matter the combination, it felt like my depression and anxiety were deflecting my treatments, much like Thanos deflected Iron Man’s repulsor blast that was aided by Thor’s lightning.
After a while, I had more time in between sessions with my therapist and it felt like I was taking on my depression/anxiety with only one of my supports. In Endgame, immediately after Iron Man’s attack, Thanos threw Iron Man to the side leaving only Captain America and Thor in the fight. Thanos brushes off an attack from Captain America and starts to take out Thor with ease. Just as all seems lost, Captain America rejoins the fight with Mjolnir in hand. With this scene, I was looking at Mjolnir as some of the coping skills that I received from therapy sessions. It was like I was fighting my depression/anxiety with a second wind, but like in the movie, it did not last long.
After Captain America got in enough hits to break Thanos’ helmet, Thanos comes back stronger than ever. Thanos removes Mjolnir from Cap’s hand and starts breaking down his last line of defense, something that is essentially a part of him, his shield. For me, thinking about this scene in this context of my mental health issues really hit a chord. There have been so many times in my life when I felt like I was on the right path. I was doing everything right, but in the end, it felt like it was all for naught. Like Cap’s shield, I felt like a part of me was broken and was still being pummeled by my anxiety and depression. But even when it felt like my anxiety and depression were winning the fight, a small part of me felt like I had to get up and fight, even if it was without my medication or therapy. Sometimes it ended up okay, other times not so much.
At this point in the sequence, Cap is getting up for what looks to be his “last stand” against Thanos. If you look closely, after Cap is back on his feet, you will notice that there is a gash on Cap’s left arm and he is using the strap on his shield as a tourniquet so he can keep fighting. As Thanos’ army approaches, Cap (broken and beaten) walks toward them to fight what seems to be his last fight alone. I do not know about you, but I can think of many times where I have felt like I was walking into my own “darkness” alone and “ready” for whatever was going to happen. But like Cap, we are not alone.
As Cap is walking toward Thanos’ Army, he hears a familiar voice. The voice of a friend he as not heard from in five years. And that voice tells him a phrase that gets me every single time I hear it, “On your left”. Cap looks to his left and sees people he did not expect to see coming out of magic portals, ready to fight by his side. For me, this scene fills me with so many emotions because when I was at my absolute lowest it was friends that I did not expect who came out of those portals, ready to fight beside me. I will be forever grateful to those friends and will never be able to repay them in this life or the next.
With his support system through the portals, Cap gives the signal, “Avengers Assemble” and the battle begins. Much like in my own life, the battle rages on and does not stop just because I have my support system, coping skills, and medications. This will be a battle that I will have to fight for the rest of my life, but after changing how I view Endgame, I have found it a little easier for me to remember all of those who are on my left, ready to fight.
***Disclosure: I am not qualified to talk about any mental health issues other than my own. If you are experiencing anxiety and depression, please seek help. If you need someone to talk to right now, please contact the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255***