What the Last Four Feature Films I Saw Taught Me About Money

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Spoilers below, although three out of the four films are nowhere near new releases.

The Phantom of the Opera: The 2004 Phantom of the Opera movie goes much further into the titular Phantom’s backstory than Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical ever did, and we learn that the Phantom is, among other things, a master craftsman. He made the little music box that plays “Masquerade.” He made the creepy life-size Christine doll that he keeps in his closet, and he also made her wedding dress.

It leaves you wondering: why did he decide to become a Phantom? Was “scamming the Paris Opera House into paying him a salary” the only way he could think of to earn money?

Why didn’t he decide to become “Erik, the Parisian dollmaker who is really friendly to everyone and also wears a mask to cover up some scars?” Paris would have been so cool with that. Erik would have had nice people lined up outside his dollmaking shop door, and he would have made a lot of friends, and then he probably would have found true love with the baker across the street, and his story would have been very different.

The Last Five Years: This is why we get prenups/this is why we get alimony. Are you on Jamie or Cathy’s side here? Whether you believe that they should have worked it out or that the divorce was inevitable (I believe it was inevitable; as Cheryl Strayed put it, “wanting to leave is enough”) one thing is clear: when Jamie walks out of that apartment and closes out the joint bank account, he leaves Cathy with pretty much nothing. She hasn’t had a steady income in the entire five years we’ve known her, though not for lack of trying.

Do you think she moves back in with her parents? Maybe Jason Robert Brown should have written a “Climbing Uphill” reprise for Cathy that goes something like “I’m up every morning at six/and filling out ten applications online/with their weird personality tests/and never a mention of pay.” Or maybe she ends up in a protracted court battle arguing that Jamie’s success as a bestselling novelist was due in part to her constant support over the years.

The Avengers: Age of Ultron: It must be great to have a genius billionaire playboy philanthropist on your superhero team. ‘Cause none of those other Avengers are bringing in any income. People more familiar with the Marvel Cinematic Universe can prove me wrong, but isn’t the entire Avengers operation funded by Stark Industries? Like, every time they go to a party or save a bunch of people from being destroyed by a group of evil robots, there are all these “brought to you by Stark Industries” signs over everything.

Also, do the other Avengers earn a salary? Does Clint direct-deposit his money into a bank account so his wife can use it to buy diapers for their kids? Or does Tony Stark just drone-drop a basket of supplies on everyone’s door every morning?

The Room (Rifftrax Edition): Sometimes, when you can’t make it in the computer business, you have no choice but to stay with your wealthy husband (and sleep with his best friend).

Or, maybe: Tommy Wiseau absolutely got his six million dollars’ worth on this one.

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