Note: I made this with the intent to commemorate the third anniversary of Prince’s passing on April 21, 2016. Just so happens, Avengers: Endgame premieres this week on April 25 (if you’re reading this blog you probably have heard about that). The premise was to re-contextualize last year’s rather lengthy Avengers: Infinity War, set to all the songs on 1984’s Purple Rain, in the order they appear on that definitive work of pop music. The thinking was, in terms of emotional/dramatic arcs, Purple Rain the album is more coherent and composed than Infinity War (I wouldn’t make the same claim if we were talking about Purple Rain the film, but in this case we aren’t).
Annotations to Infinity Rain by the editor (me).
00:00 — As far as I know, Stan Lee did not play an instrument, but he co-created the majority of the iconic characters in the Marvel Universe. He passed away last December, leaving a legacy that may never be matched by another writer of fiction.
00:42 — Prince’s reference to “Dr. Everything’ll Be All Right” in the opening sermon-section of “Let’s Go Crazy” is here signified by Infinity War’s surprise villain cameo: The Red Skull, who, from his Third Reich affiliations, could’ve gone by the even more menacing moniker Dr. Everything’ll Be All White.
01:02 — “Punch a higher floor!” Or just punch someone, for Pete’s sake, it’s a superhero movie.
01:04 — Let’s Go Loki — Loki’s repeat of Tony’s line from the first Avengers film, “We have a Hulk,” fittingly reflects Loki’s constantly shifting allegiances; Hulk’s battle with Thanos is, as far as ways to start a movie, pretty damn crazy.
01: 57 — Take Hulk With U — Heimdall’s last heroic act is to use the Bifrost Bridge to send Hulk to Earth, to warn them of Thanos’ coming.
02:52 — The Beautiful Morons — Thor meets the Guardians of the Galaxy for the first time, instantly inciting tension between the Thunder God, Gamora, and the over-protective Star-Lord; imperfectly mirrors the triangle of Prince, Apollonia, and Morris Day, as Prince, from the stage, exults the last verse of “The Beautiful Ones” to Apollonia in that operatic/orgasmic voice that only Prince could summon.
04:56: — Vibranium Blue — Arguably Purple Rain’s least hit-tiest track, “Computer Blue” reflects on the attenuation of emotion in an age of technology (a recurring theme in Prince’s vast discography) and appropriate to the peculiar situation of the Vision, a synthezoid learning to love at the very moment when he may be asked upon to die.
Also, the groove syncs well with the fight between Shuri and the Dora Milaje and Corvus Glaive.
05:50 — Darling Nikki Fury — Unless you’ve honestly NEVER listened to Purple Rain, I don’t think this one needs elaboration. Woke up the next morning, Fury wasn’t there. Prince wants Fury to come back, Nicky, come back. Fury makes a call, but not to Prince.
06:41 — When Titans Cry — Thanos and Gamora’s relationship arguably forms the core of Infinity War: it’s not always helped by the Mad Titan’s constantly-distracting chin/cliff, but if anything saves these scenes, it’s Zoe Saldana’s consistent commitment to giving it all to whatever green-skinned Klingon-speaking humanoid-cat creature she’s playing at the moment. With all due respect, no one else in Infinity War is even in the same emotional universe as the song “When Doves Cry.” The long shots of Thanos attempting to emote notwithstanding, the internal battles fought by Gamora (both young and old) are, by insane era-spanning coincidence, exactly what Prince was talking about.
12: 51 — I Would Assemble 4 U — This one is kind of a gimme, it’s the most uptempo superheroic song on Purple Rain by a glorious wide margin. It’s all in the para-religious lyric: Thanos’s army of Outriders are neither women nor men; Captain America and Black Panther are something you can never understand, although they will beat the pulp out of you, and possibly forgive you by and by.
14:08 — After the exhilarating fisticuffs of the battles on Wakanda and Titan, it seemed appropriate to return to the stated thesis of Prince’s song, vis a vis the Avengers’ final, futile stand against Thanos. Although Thanos does not kill them (by that weird unspoken genre rule where the villain rarely kills the hero even when given an easy opportunity to do so), it is understood that they now are basically fighting a god, and they are going to lose.
14:44 — Was somewhat tempted here to dub in Melle Mel rapping on Chaka Khan’s “I Feel For U” (another mega-hit penned by Prince) since it’s a less-cheezy line than Vision’s “I just feel you.” But then, it’s not like they’re paying me for this shit. 🙂
15:53 — Spidey I’m A Star — Peter Parker interlude time! Although most of this action takes place earlier in Infinity War, Spidey is really the only Avenger whose agile physicality syncs well with the optimistic-party backbeat of “Baby I’m A Star.” Again, note, Spidey spends most of this segment just pulling people out of harm’s way with his webs. He’s good at punching people, but he’s even better at safety-netting them.
17:54 — Okay, I take one thing partially back — Thor’s heart-to-heart with Rocket is one of the surprisingly affecting character scenes in Infinity War. I believe it works because it’s cognitively-dissonant; Thor is, by all metrics, the most invulnerable and least introspective of the Avengers, as well as the one who is least concerned with Death, except as a family-relations matter. Here, we get to hear Odinson reveal the cost of living for so long, the immeasurable violence he’s both suffered and inflicted on the non-immortal, and, without quite saying so, his fear that he finally may be approaching the true end he narrowly escaped in Ragnarok. It’s not quite Roy Batty’s “tears in the rain” speech, but it’s in the same ballpark.
18:10 — The track here is from a bootleg recording of a live performance by Prince with full band, year uncertain, in Paris. The editorial concept was, in shorthand, to track the strengths and limitations of Tony Stark, both as man and Iron Man, as they progress through the sprawling storyline of Infinity War. In every successive Marvel film, his armor is the best version it’s ever been; in this movie, it’s not good enough. In the first battle with the Black Order in New York, the nano-armor seems extra-flashy and versatile; Thanos shreds it plate by plate, first by, yes, throwing a moon at him, then with a torrential purple electric-mayhem blast.
“Whoo hoo hoo hoo. Whoo hoo hoo hoo. Whoo hoo hoo-ooh ooh ooh.”
19:24 — Naturally, slo-mo’ed this a bit; he’s standing in the purple rain. BTW, when Prince wrote this song, he wasn’t literally talking about “rain that happens to be purple.” He was metaphorically talking about a catastrophe, a nuclear strike, a day when the sky would turn an unnatural color and fall… on you.
20:08 — It’s not that they did a bad job on this wrenching scene of mass sudden death in Infinity War… it’s just that, to my mind, it becomes much improved (as in, much more terrible) when Prince’s “Purple Rain” is playing in the background.
21:54 — For those of us blessed to have attended Prince concerts when he was living and in his musical prime, we know that his inevitable closer of “Purple Rain” could sometimes run a bit… looooooong. This is an observation of fact, it is the furthest thing from a complaint. The song is one of the great singalong stadium-filling anthems of all time, and once begun, there is no actual reason for it to ever end. Also, it is not in essence a “happy” or “sad” song, it is a more a vehicle of pure expression. In a similar but less monumental way, the end of Infinity War is neither uplifting nor tragic: we know they’re gonna come back somehow in the next one, it’s just kinda a bummer how those last five minutes play out.
So anyway, all that to say, here I a.) took a few breaks from the extremely-long band-vamping that happens in this live version of “Purple Rain” and b.) tried to focus back, in a non-linear way, on the camaraderie that make the Avengers an enduring myth in the first place (for those of us who not merely endure, but truly like them). The core members: Cap, Black Widow, Thor, T’Challa. The newer recruits: Groot, Rocket, Okoye. To paraphrase Cap in Age of Ultron, win together, and lose together, too.
23:27 — “Somebody put your hand up high.” Like, say, the one with the Infinity Gauntlet on it? Oh yeah, I totally planned that, totally.
25:51 — In the future I may do a compilation of every time there’s a friendly hug in a Marvel movie, because I just kinda like it when the superheroes greet each other with a friendly hug.
25:58 — I just want to point out AGAIN, that if it hadn’t been for Star-Lord’s dudebro lack of chill, and Wong had been on-site instead of Doctor Strange, THE AVENGERS WOULD’VE BEATEN THANOS THE FIRST TIME AND ENDGAME WOULDN’T EVEN BE A MOVIE. Mantis totally had him mentally sedated, and oh yeah, how about that hand-cutting-off trick Wong used so helpfully in the first part of the movie? Sure seems like, I dunno, a way of getting rid of the appendage that happens to have the universe’s ultimate weapon on it? Thank you, Asian Marvel heroes, for solving that plot problem for us but not really? But what’re you gonna do, it’s still less preposterous than what happens in the comic book version. 🙂
26:33: The first guitar chord gets me, every single time.
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C U @ Endgame, & may U live 2 C the dawn!