Avengers, Culture, Wackadoodle, and Weekend Open Thread
It just means that my head and my heart tell me it’s 1945. They tell me that when I switch on the radio, it should take a minute to warm up and music should come out, not noise and foul language. They tell me that when I talk about God as something real, people should understand, not look away as if I’m crazy. They tell me that I should be winning a war that will make the world free and everyone equal — not looking at the sad result of sixty years of compromise and lowered expectations. They tell me that I’m just a man. No better than any other. But no worse. -Captain America
After the cut, we’re going to have a “Mindless Diversions Extra!” post that will discuss Thor, Captain America, and the Marvel Movie Treatment thereof and wander through religious and/or political territory along the way. It should also, of course, be considered an open thread. See you after the cut.
Way back when Thor came out, Leaguester Alex Knapp wrote a post called “When Gods Become Toys“. He links to an essay at Killing The Buddha by someone who, among other gods, worships Thor. There are many responses that I had to this essay but the one that made the most sense to me was to imagine what it’d be like to take a religion that I was familiar with and give it the Stan Lee treatment.
What I came up with was Jesus Of Nazareth!, a superhero who had a handful of superpowers and fought crime and supervillians. His main weapons were the hammer and nails and he’d usually nail whomever he was fighting to a nearby wooden surface. Not THEM, of course, their clothing. (And he’d do a good enough job that they couldn’t slip out and run off, naturally.) He’d have healing powers for the other superheroes on the team, he’d be able to walk on water, he’d be able to get people drunk really quickly (“Why am I woozy?” “I turned your sports drink into wine!”), and, of course, turn stones to bread (maybe he’d be able to turn bullets into bread that he could then give to nearby homeless people). His enemies? Longinus the Roman Centurion! Annas and Caiaphas, the High Priests! And his deepest nemesis, former sidekick, Judas Sicarii! (“Augh! My bread powers don’t work against pieces of silver!” “I’VE GOT TWENTY-NINE MORE!”) and as I was going through these, I found myself thinking two thoughts at once:
- This is really easy and fun!
- This is not only disrespectful, it completely misses the point of any moral messages contained in the story!
So I started to think about Thor and ruminating on one of the questions that’s been bugging me since the Ultimate Universe started:
What if Thor really did come to the modern United States? A serious, legit, God of Thunder. What would He think? Would He have an opinion on abortion? Feminism in general? Green Energy? Would Thor be a God that has progressed into a New Covenant (having new opinions on whether the guy who works at the oil change place is likely to make it into Valhalla) or will he be an Old School God (nope, still have to be a great warrior, still have to die with a sword in your hand)?
Maribou, of course, tells me that the above completely misunderstands Thor, as if Thor were a God that you could understand better within a Thomistic tradition or by going and studying at Wheaton. (“Is there a Volsungan Wheaton?”, I asked her. She ignored me.)
All of these muddled thoughts combined resulted in me not feeling comfortable watching the movie Thor. So I never saw it.
I did see Captain America and wrote a review of it for Mindless Diversions but realized “this is waaaaaaay political” and deleted it. I’ll try to recreate it.
The title that I originally had for my Captain America review was “Pornography!”
The movie struck me as wildly inappropriate. World War II is, of course, where Captain America comes from but the treatment of the time was sanitized to the point where it yanked me out of the movie. I understand that the argument is that they wanted the “four color” treatment and I’m not asking to see Ohrdruf liberated but there was a lot of heavy lifting done by cultural assumptions on the part of the audience that was never (and probably could never have been) justified on the screen. Painting Hydra as even worse than the Nazis?
Setting *THAT* aside, there was the four-color treatment of other, smaller, ugly parts of the past. Captain America’s multicultural crack team of commandos would not have been in the same unit nor would they have been allowed to drink together. They had a Japanese guy come out and say “I’m from Fresno” which, immediately, made me think of the Japanese internment camps. Googling tells me that Fresno *HAD* a Japanese internment camp. This yanked me out of the movie once more.
In speaking to a friend at work about this, he told me something to the effect of “you overthink things! Just try to enjoy stuff!” and I said “Imagine the year 2070. They’re making a movie about 9/11. They’ve got some Bruce Willis guy running up to a window, kicking it out, yelling some cool line, and then shooting United Airlines Flight 175 with an RPG and it explodes and the pieces fly past him, but he’s posing, and the tower is okay! USA! USA! USA!” “That’s what Captain America felt like to you?” “I watched the movie and then wondered why in the heck my grandad would come back and start drinking after fighting in a war that fun.” “You overthink things. Just try to enjoy stuff.”
As such, I’m not going to be seeing The Avengers tomorrow. But, if you see it, tell me how it was!
Consider this an open thread.