It used to be that popular movies and television shows based on comic-book characters seldom took themselves seriously.
Remember the 1950s television version of "Superman" or the 1960s version of "Batman"? Even when both those characters moved to the big screen, the former most notably Richard Donner's 1978 feature and the latter Tim Burton's 1989 offering, the jokes typically went hand-in-hand with the dramatic moments.
Ah, how times have changed. Take the "Avengers" series, the latest edition of which opens Friday with "Avengers: Infinity War": No cartoon series has ever tried more to pass itself off as something out of Shakespeare.
The trailers for this latest film make that serious tone clear enough, and the IMDB plot description only underscores it: "The Avengers and their allies must be willing to sacrifice all in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe."
Maybe it's a sign of the times. Those of us who have lived long enough to gain some sense of historical perspective realize that we're living through an unprecedented era of political discord. It seems the movies are reflecting this.
It wouldn't be the first time. Anyway, Friday's single major Friday release is: