It’s about time they find a marvellous solution to it too!
The Avengers saga allowed the world to witnesses the legendary rise of a superhero ensemble on the big screen that comic-book fans would’ve never thought possible. While Marvel ushered in a saga of unique origin stories & convergent plots for each hero’s development, it also presented a grim and underlying issue with how Marvel had decided to portray its heroes – read on to DKODE what it is.
- The Marvel superhero problem.
- Analyzing actions of the Winter Soldier ( Bucky Barnes )
- Analyzing actions of the Scarlet Witch ( Wanda Maximoff )
- What’s the solution?
What’s Marvel’s superhero problem in one word?
Confused? Let’s DKODE it.
Do you remember watching the trailer of Marvel’s Captain America Civil War?
It was filled with many iconic moments, including the fan favourite scene of Iron Man’s “UNDEROOS!” beckoning a surprise entry by Spiderman.
But it also crafted an unmistakable narrative, our favourite Marvel heroes were choosing sides, and we had to choose one too. While DC Universe had enjoyed its endless Batman vs. Superman debates, (with fans even taking to social media to chime in on the ‘who would beat who’ topic) this was the first major milestone along those lines for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It also presented a unique conundrum.
Who were we, the audience, supposed to root for without villainizing the other side?
Who do we even choose?!
Nobody is perfect, not even superheroes. Marvel had embodied a distinct imperfection in each of their hero’s arcs to humanize them to a certain extent. Yet to somehow acknowledge this fact indubitably sparked controversy.
Walk into a Captain America fan appreciation event & shout the following words.
“Bucky still killed Tony Stark’s parents!”
Okay, seriously, don’t shout that.
But let’s analyze the imperfections of our Marvel heroes that we try to forget in an attempt to put them on a pedestal.
Winter Soldier (Bucky Barnes)
Portrayed by the brilliant Sebastian Stan, the Winter Soldier was introduced as the alter ego of Bucky Barnes, childhood friend of Captain America, Steve Rogers. During a mission gone wrong Bucky was apprehended by HYDRA and subjected to a plethora of horrendous experiments giving birth to his Winter Soldier persona.
He committed a number of crimes during this period, consequences of which trickled down to many Marvel Cinematic Universe’s character arcs, including Tony Stark, Helmut Zemo, and a number of characters introduced in The Falcon & the Winter Soldier.
We know, we know.
“He was brainwashed! He didn’t know what he was doing!”
While that may be true, it harks us back to the main Marvel superhero problem.
By virtue of Captain America doing his utmost to hide the fact that Bucky killed Tony Stark’s parents, his well-intended actions inevitably became the linchpin in Helmut Zemo’s strategy to tear the Avengers into conflict. It also raised an important question,
Should Marvel’s superheroes be let off the hook for the adverse actions they’ve committed?
If yes, it could hint at a problem with the MCU world building. It could suggest that the Marvel superhero problem is something the audiences are simply expected to forgive and forget in the name of character development.
Scarlet Witch (Wanda Maximoff)
Wanda’s (Elizabeth Olsen) actions at the beginning of Marvel’s Captain America Civil war, which indirectly resulted in loss of civilian lives, brought up the entire discussion of accountability to the Avengers’ table.
While fans would have forgiven her during the tumultuous course of events then, Wanda’s character inevitably embodied a full-blown Villain during the events of WandaVision (2021)
Long story short, three weeks after the events of Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame (2019), Wanda took an entire town hostage.
“But she just lost Vision, she loved him, she was under duress!”
Agreed, and yet once again
While she may have been manipulated to some degree by Agatha (Kathryn Hahn), it’s undeniable that Wanda took matters into her own hands, forcing everyone in the town of Westview to be part of her imaginary alternate universe.
During the course of these events, she even kidnapped law enforcement agents and forced them into her world. The conclusion of the series saw her walking away with no consequence from the FBI, SWORD or any other authority in the Marvel universe.
The problem with the MCU narrative here was glaring.
The audience was expected to simply celebrate Wanda’s triumphant moment and spare no thought to the moral ambiguity that led to it.
“What’s the solution?”
Trust the audience to embrace the imperfections of their beloved Marvel heroes, instead of creating a scenario where it is considered morally acceptable for said heroes to do as they please with zero accountability. Anti-heroes like Deadpool exist, are morally ambiguous yet loved because of their imperfections, it’s about time Marvel followed suit for the rest of its heroes too.