WHY THE MCU IS ESSENCIALLY A THEOLOGICAL PLAY
“Finally, I’ll do it myself.”
The MCU; this franchise has got to be one of the largest and greatest franchises seen on earth in history. Since its inception, it has given comic book lovers as well as newbies to the comic book lore plenty to think about regarding the comic book genre. Initially-and some of you might not know this-comic book companies such as Marvel and DC struggled for a long time to have their material taken seriously among the general populace. This was a phenomenon that could not be blamed on the wider youthful audience who devoured their content so much so as their parent/guardian influence who largely opposed the comic book industry as soon as it began to tackle real-life problems through metaphors and allusions in their highly illustrated pages. This was a great turn in history according to many comic historians as it saw the rise and prominence of the comic book genre as a serious category of literature.
Who knew that comic books once struggled with such things? It’s child’s play, isn’t it…or is it really? There is plenty of history concerning this matter and I wanted you to get acquainted with it before we moved on to my point today. [I sincerely hope that the great minds behind the MCU do not forget this]. If this history is not clear enough, another thing to be established right off the bat is the fact that the series, as well as the movies follow specific themes; a matter that Anthony and Joe Russo alluded to in their interviews about the films. If this is anything to come by, we can all agree to a great extent too that the MCU has been stupendously successful in executing this plan.
Whereas Marvel heroes and stories tend to be incredible as well as tragic, heart-wrenching, uplifting…basically human at its core, the emphases in the comics echo the same things. It is not the power-set/skills/abilities that make the hero but their character and person. Who over what is the main point preached in the pages of the comic books. If this point is in any causing doubt; Iron Man, his caption was ‘Heroes are Made..’, with Daredevil, his caption was ‘The Man without Fear’, and with Spider Man, his caption is ‘With Great Power, Comes Great Responsibility’. Each of these captions summarize the characters as well as their stories.
Extending the heart of the comics into the MCU as Marvel has done so far is nothing short of incredible (no pun intended, sorry Hulk). Each of these characters have become more relatable as their worldviews, goals and aspirations, as well as their deepest desires and stances are communicated to fans and newcomers alike to the big and small screens. It is with this in mind that I want to make my point.
With all that’s been said about the comics, the characters, their development, as well as the MCU as a whole, it is clear that there’s something else intended to be communicated to the audience from the midst of all this knowledge. Think about it for a second; the success of a good story relies on the development of the characters, the story as well as their own as well as the greater external enemy. I know that right now some of you know who I am talking about. This is Thanos (I couldn’t use his quote and not discuss him now, could I?).
Thanos in the comics is supposed to be to the Avengers what Apocalypse is supposed to have been to the X Men in X Men: (Age of) Apocalypse the 2016 film. Although the movie was a let down, I have to point out that this was not due to the characters’ power set but because of lack of his development in the story and this robbed him of his menacing personality as we know him to be in the comic books. Thanos on the other hand is odd, he, like Apocalypse views himself as a god, but his aspiration is not mere power for the sake of it but for love.
Yes, essentially the MCU is about the extent of a being who fancies himself a god, demonstrating his love to mankind. Not in the Judeo-Christian manner of self sacrifice of the deity but of the sacrifice and manipulation of others to achieve a single goal; ultimate power. Some of you must be like, “Waaait a minute, are you saying that the MCU is actually something akin to a divine tale?” The answer, “Yes. Yes, it is”. The downside as well as the beauty of this lies in the fact that audiences get to see that the Infinity Stones do not reveal Thanos’ power in the end, but rather his greatest weakness. Kinda odd, right? But that’s the point. It’s kinda like a reverse biblical Tower of Babel scenario. The ‘god’ is brought down by ‘mankind’ (i.e. the superheroes who are ‘Earth’s Mightiest Heroes’) when he seeks to disband them and ruin their already-strained interpersonal relationship. In the end, the ‘god’ is shown to be powerless as the highest tower of humanism and auto-soteriology is built. The message? Well, I’ll let Nick Fury say it from the first Avengers’ film;
“Yes, they [i.e. the Avengers] are dangerous. Our world knows that…every world knows that (now”