Category Archives: Marvel

Marvel: Agents of Shield

Marvel Agents of Shield

Marvels Agents of Shield is not what I expected. I admit that I so loved Marvel’s Avengers, and believe it to be a masterpiece that I fully engage myself in, therefore my expectations were a bit skewed. I was hoping for the deep questions posed by such television series as Lost and Heroes. These series ask questions about what makes us human, how do we connect, what are we willing to do to survive, how far are we willing to go to protect those we love. The audience is shown the heart, emotions and internal struggles of most of the characters.

Why I expected these questions I do not know, because neither the Avengers or any of the other Marvel films ask these deep questions. They are concerned with how people change, and overcoming great obstacles—“simple” themes of life. Agents of Shield shows us good verses evil. The question that it may be raising is, “how do we deal with evil?” “How do we deal with people doing wrong that are doing wrong mostly because of their situation?”

The reason I say, ‘may be raising,’ is because the main character Agent Coulson seem to already have it figured out. He is a Captain America type character who is already good and has a moral compass that points him to always seek the third alternative that works everything out well. The questions aren’t worked out by characters that are struggling with internal conflict with good and bad responses to tough situations. Coulson knows what to do and does it.

I applaud the show for two things, with a caveat. The first is that they do make a very simple portrayal of good and evil. There is the good guys and the bad guys. However, it also blur both evil and justice. The bad guy of the pilot is simply caught in a bad situation and is not in control because of a biomechanical device. We never see justice enacted in response to him killing someone.

The second point I applaud them for is that Coulson brings compassion and grace to those that need it. His life mission is helping those who are in need. He is the good guy through and through.

                In all the series does capture the idea of old comic books. There were good guys and bad guys, things were simple. The only complicated thing was figuring out how to stop the bad people without anyone, including bad people, getting killed. Modern comics deal more with difficult choices that must be made. It is like the difference between The Brady Bunch and Modern Family. Though fun and entertaining, placed next to the more dirty down to earth modern t.v series, Agents of Shield, seems to be lacking depth.


Captain America as Ideal

                Captain America the leader of the Avengers is idealistically my favorite Marvel hero, however, as the epitome of a hero for us to copy he is also the hardest to relate with. Captain America embodies all of the values of character that we should strive for, but can become an unreachable standard. He is willing to take a beating for what is right, he takes care of those who are less fortunate than himself. He quickly takes risks on his life for others. Even as a wimpy asthmatic that is continually turned down from military service Rogers before he takes part in the experiment that makes him Captain America, he wants to fight bullies.

                Culturally, people do not relate with Captain America as much because of his near perfect character. We often relate more with those who are flawed, like Tony Stark in Iron Man. Christians often also see a standard of perfection that we believe we cannot attain because of our sin. It is true that we cannot attain perfection here on this earth, but Captain America: The First Avenger does not teach us to reach for perfection, but goodness.

                As Christians watching the movie, we can see in him the character that we should be striving for as followers of Christ. We are not taught in the films that we can be perfect, but that we should be good. In the seen before his procedure, Dr. Abraham Erskine tells him, not to be, “a perfect soldier, but a good man.”  When questioned as to why he would choose the scrawny Rogers, Dr. Erskine responds, “why did I choose someone weak? Because a weak man knows the value of strength, the value of power. And he also knows compassion.”

                In these few words the Dr. is speaking in line with the life we are to live as followers of Christ. We are to live well and do good for Christ. We are to live humble lives of sacrifice. As Christ humbled himself and understood meekness, so should we. We are supposed to be willing to give of ourselves to stop evil and promote good.

We will never be perfect. We won’t be perfect soldiers or followers of Christ, but we by the power and faith of Christ do good and can be good men and women. As we build our crowns, they may be broken, but crowns none the less.


Marvel Comics and Binding Stories

The ancient myths of the Greco-Roman and Norse God’s were shared in order to show the listener how to live. It showed them how to behave in society. It demonstrated the relationship between men and women. It explained why the weather changed or why catastrophes happened. It explained the motivation for wicked deeds and what honor is. They also helped to hold together the whole of society. Since everyone in a society knew the same stories and lessons from the stories, it added a thread of commonality.

Joseph Campbell spent most of his life studying myths. His goal was to find the common threads in myths around the world. One of the themes that came up in most cultures is the quest of the hero. A hero overcame obstacles in order to become the person he needed to become. He would prove his worth, his place in society, become a man etc. These stories showed young men what they were supposed to do to become a man (women were often left out or given secondary roles). The quest could include defeating a monster, traveling to a distant place, or often a death and resurrection.

In America, we have many movies, but we have few stories of lore to guide the young generation in how to live. We have historical figures, like Davy Crockett, George Washington, Daniel Boone, and Martin Luther King Jr. but they are given a cursory telling at best. I am rather disappointed that such fantastic historical figures are not held up as bedtime and campfire stories. However, I am very thrilled that the United States is starting to tell stories of its own mythical heroes.

Our American Heroes are comic book heroes. Currently the comic book industry that is dominating the market is the Marvel Universe. Marvel is the company that has produced the heroes known as, Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Hawkeye, Thor, The Fantastic Four, Dr. Strange, Ant Man (who is not like an ant in the same way that Spider Man is like a spider) the X-Men and many others. For many years, comics and baseball cards were what young boys would spend their allowance on every week.

Until the release of the recent blockbuster hits, Marvel Studios was slowly going under. Comic book sales were down and their profits were disappearing. Now bought by the Walt Disney Corporation, Marvel Corp. is taking the United States Culture by storm. With no signs of stopping the production of their main heroes, Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor, as well as planning to continue to add more Marvel heroes. Marvel is a major force in shaping our thinking. This is especially true because now they are making good movies. Through the flop of the Hulk films, the mediocre Fantastic Four, and the dismal falling of Spiderman, it seems that Marvel is learning to make good movies.

These good movies are not just fun to watch, but they are actually beneficial for our American character and culture. The marvel heroes, who will be the subject of the next several postings, are teaching young people the importance of right over might, relationships, honor, personal growth, learning from mistakes, and good choices.
The marvel movies are also so wide spread that they offer a semi common thread to the USA. They give an actual story to follow, and not just the commonality of consumerism, hard work and baseball.