In the new movie Archenemy, a superhero falls and his human sidekick goes up, up, and away. But what exactly happened in the end?
The buzz-worthy sci-fi movie from director Adam Egypt Mortimer, now in theaters and Video on Demand, has a seemingly straightforward ending. But further insight from Mortimer may provide a better understanding about its visual metaphors, and what it means for the ending of the movie.
Here's what the ending of Archenemy was all about, according to Mortimer himself.
Warning! Spoilers ahead.
In Archenemy, cosmic superhero Max Fist (Joe Manganiello) is stranded, powerless and drunk, in our dimension. He befriends Hamster (Skylan Brooks), an aspiring crime reporter, and his sister Indigo (Zolee Griggs), who is in over her head with a local drug lord. Despite the absence of his alleged superpowers, Max Fist rises to the occasion to save his new friends from danger.
At the end of Archenemy, Max Fist and his former love, Cleo (Amy Seimetz) fall from a high-rise building and splat on the ground. A moment later Max Fist's cosmic blood pools on the concrete, confirming that he really was a cosmic superhero and not just a lying drunk. As Mortimer points out, Max and Cleo's fall also mirrors the film's animated prologue, where the movie began with the image of Max and Cleo falling from their previous battle.
With Max Fist's cosmic blood on the concrete, Indigo touches his electric blue blood. The residual energy allows Indigo to see Max's parallel Earth and also grants her Max Fist's superpowers. In contrast to Max Fist's falling, Indigo rises with superhuman flight. "You're going to be okay," Max whispers with his presumably dying breath.
What does the ending of Archenemy mean?
There's a pretty straightforward answer to the ending of Archenemy: Max Fist wasn't bullshitting about his past. He really was a superhero from another dimension. But there are some visual metaphors happening that may be easy to miss.
As Mortimer points out, there is a contrast in rising/falling imagery that's told through Max Fist and the other characters. "In Max's mind, he's falling," Mortimer tells Inverse. "From the beginning of the movie, he's falling and falling. Hamster, he's rising and rising. The story takes place when they meet in the middle. They help each other up or help each other down."
Max and Cleo are on the ground, but it's Hamster and Indigo who are way up, either on a skyscraper floor or, in the case of Indigo, flying high in the sky.
"[Max Fist] is a guy whose memory is this utopic sci-fi world, but what he's seeing is the most grounded, depressing — he lives in a tent under a bridge," Mortimer says. "The people who are from there, Hamster and Indigo, that's where their life is. That's the streets they live on. And they're on a constant emotional ascension. Hopefully, there's an interesting conflict between optimism and nihilism, regret and hope."
There's an interesting color story to Archenemy as well. From the movie's poster to its animated segments, there is a contrast of pink and blue that is also told on its characters.
"Pink and blue, they're an amazing contrast," Mortimer says. "Together they're a stark contrast, but as a whole individually, they were inviting." Mortimer says there is a "pink thread" on Max and Hamster, as the two either wear pink or are lit in pink lightning, while Indigo and Cleo wear blue. (Max's blood, too, is blue on the inside.)
"Tracing the way colors tell us something about who they are," Mortimer says. "You wind up on pink and blue because there is something so contemporary and modern and confusing about gender, confusion about what these colors are supposed to make you feel. It feels cosmic and human in an interesting way."
ARCHENEMY is available IN THEATERS, DIGITAL, AND VOD.