Hey there. For once, I've decided to not upload a story or add a new chapter. Instead, I've decided to make a few essays of my own. In the past (especially in school), I wasn't that good in writing essays, but I've started learning. So I've decided to try experimenting with essays, with topics ranging from patriotism to religion to societal issues and even to entertainment. Also some hunting; I might add that too.
Anyway, this essay was inspired by YouTuber appabend when he reviewed The Guardian's article called "What if superheroes aren't really the good guys?". I recommend checking out some of his videos; they're interesting.
Now that that's out of the way, here's the article, and my response to it.
What if superheroes aren't really the good guys?
We've always thought of them as flawed, noble, and on our side - but perhaps they're just dangerous right-wing vigilantes.
Oh yeah, it's gonna be one of those takes on life, the "always gray all the time" takes on life. While the world isn't always black-and-white, it's not always going to be gray either. So I come to see the world in a "black, white, and gray" morality sort of thing.
And I love how they label them as "right-wing" vigilantes, because all right-wingers are dangerous, didn't you know? While there are some right-wing people who are nutty, I've seen nuttier stuff from the left-wing, which is why I'm more critical of the left-wing. And just because someone is right-wing doesn't always mean they're going to be evil. Anyone (whether left-wing, right-wing, or neutral) can be good, evil, or in the middle.
In the predecessor to Infinity War, Captain America: Civil War, the secretary of state visits the Avengers HQ and points out the elephant in the room.
[points to a toy elephant] Here's the elephant in the room. Joke aside, here's the quote:
"What would you call a group of US-based, enhanced individuals who routinely ignore sovereign borders and inflict their will wherever they choose and who, frankly, seem unconcerned about other people?"
From what I've learned, they're rogue meta-humans. If they signed the Accords, that's what the United Nations would get. The United Nations seems to think that anything they plan to do with the Avengers will make less destruction than what the Avengers do, but what about both sides not being perfect? Did the government expect the Avengers to save every person they come across?
Like their audience, Iron Man, Captain America, and co thought of themselves as flawed but noble superheroes uniting for a cause - until suddenly they were confronted with the possibility they might be dangerous, destructive, unregulated vigilantes.
Would the UN regulating what the Avengers do be even better to prevent more deaths? Most likely not, since the Avengers would basically become attack dogs that the UN can use anytime. If there's an alien attack on Earth, I don't think asking the UN for permission is going to save more lives. And don't think you can speak for the audience, writer. They can decide for themselves if the Avengers are good guys or not.
Also, remember this quote from Vision? The article certainly did. Vision says this:
"Our very strength incites challenge. Challenge incites conflict. Oversight is not an idea that can be dismissed out of hand."
That may be true, but we don't know what's in that Accords thing. What regulations are in there? What's in the Accords hadn't been mentioned much in the movie, let alone the comic (from what I've heard. If there are, please let me know).
It's a question worth asking: what makes superheroes the good guys?
The answer is even more worth saying: they're trying to save humanity, not wipe out millions (key word being trying). Of course they're gonna fail from time to time, but they can't save every single life. Can death be avoided? No, of course not. Death is very unavoidable, and everyone dies one day. Can it be delayed? Well, that depends on the situation. Knowing that they can't save everyone but try anyway is what makes them human and relatable. Just because the Avengers sometimes fail in saving people doesn't make them villains. It's when they deliberately start hurting or murdering people or other atrocities that they stop being heroes and start being villains.
In Civil War, Steve Rogers and Tony Stark are concerned with saving peoples' lives, but they have different ideas on how to do it. Tony believes that they should align themselves with the United Nations to regulate their superhero stuff to prevent deaths, while Steve believes that standing by and letting stuff happen will not save lives. They even have a debate scene to determine what's the best approach on how to do it. Heck, Steve doesn't agree with the United Nations (because as a guy from 1940s America, he believes that government shouldn't decide everything in a country), but he's willing to read through the Accords to see what he agrees or disagrees with.
Writer, even a Chihuahua would understand this basic.
It's taken as a given in these movies, but there's a nagging sense that for all their tales of heroism and sacrifice and vanquishing alien threats on Earth, the superhero moral compass is no longer pointing in the right direction.
No, I'm pretty sure that the heroes' moral compass will still be in the right direction. It'll wobble at times, but it'll very much stay true on its mark. Also where is a scene where any of the Avengers decides to save humanity by destroying it?
...none. The article talks more about how superhero movies are getting more morally complex and gray. At what cost, though? When it comes to saving lives or destroying lives, that's more of a black-and-white issue, something many people can agree about.
Where does that leave a "good guy" such as Batman, who operates as both judge and jury, even applying the death penalty, with zero tolerance or oversight? Put him in the real world, and you get someone like Vladimir Putin or Rodrigo Duterte.
Don't know what either of them have to do with this, nor do I know who Rodrigo Duterte is. Anyway, the writer doesn't seem to know that Batman doesn't kill criminals. Sometimes he does in very dire situations, but not always. He apprehends the criminals and lets the authorities take them to jail. He believes in mercy; even if he has a reason to dislike bad guys (because his parents were murdered by a criminal), he knows that killing them won't solve anything. That, and he won't stoop to the bad guys' level and start killing willy-nilly.
As with the Avengers, Batman was called out on this in the recent Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice. Bruce Wayne, AKA Batman, is told: "Civil liberties being trampled on in your city, good people living in fear ... he thinks he's above the law." The person probing him is the Daily Planet's ace reporter Clark Kent, AKA Superman.
Then Superman should spend some time in Gotham, see how his mind changes after seeing what goes on there.
As the political soul of the Marvel cinematic universe, Captain America's movies track the shift. In his 2011 debut The First Avenger, he's a typical good guy: a Nazi-socking patriot with greatness thrust upon him.
Nothing wrong with being patriotic. At least, not to the point of completely shutting down borders (and this is from someone who wants more guarded borders).
By the 2014 sequel, The Winter Soldier, his old-school moral certitude can't get with the modern-day US government's plans for universal surveillance and pre-emptive drone strikes.
"Old-school moral certitude"? There's nothing old-school about morality.
This isn't freedom; it's fear," he assesses, and turns his back on the government (rightly so: it turns out to have been infiltrated by the neo-Nazi organization Hydra).
And not because the government was acting totalitarian? I mean, the government possibly becoming Nazi-like is definitely a bad thought, but universal surveillance sounds fishy to me.
In the era of Edward Snowden and contentious remote warfare, this was radical stuff for a superhero movie. By part three in 2016, Civil War, Captain America refuses the secretary of state's demand that the Avengers agree to UN oversight and splinters off with a bunch of rebel superheroes. That sets a scene for a clash of opposing superhero teams.
Here's an extended quote from The Winter Soldier:
Nick Fury: After New York, I convinced the World Security Council we needed a quantum surge in threat analysis. For once we're way ahead of the curve.
Steve Rogers: By holding a gun at everyone on Earth and calling it protection.
Nick Fury: You know, I read those SSR files. Greatest generation? You guys did some nasty stuff.
Steve Rogers: Yeah, we compromised. Sometimes in ways that made us not sleep so well. But we did it so the people could be free. But this isn't freedom. This is fear.
The writer says that this means that Cap's enemies' morality is getting blurrier, their motivations and plans get more understandable, etc. Then they ask the question again.
What makes superheroes the good guys?
Well, it's time to look at Civil War again, but with a bit more specificality (doubt that it's a word, but still). There's a whole lot of gray in Civil War, both sides of heroes having some good points and rather relatable flaws. Even if I disagree with Tony Stark siding with the UN on this whole deal, he's still a good guy and does believe that what the UN provides might still save lives.
The article talks more about how Killmonger from Black Panther has a point in wanting to help black people all around the world. But his plan to do so includes using Wakanda's resources to take over the world and using murder or lethal force to help black people. Then the writer has this to say.
His grievances are actually pretty valid: how could resource-rich Wakanda stand by and let all these atrocities - slavery, colonialism, world wars, racism - happen to their African brothers and sisters?
"Their African brothers and sisters"? Writer, just because two people have the same skin color doesn't make them brothers and sisters who love each other. Africa's full of different cultures, many of them fighting each other as of today. And where do you think we are now, the 1800s? How would you pay the reparations, for example, and when would they finally stop? To be honest, though, that stuff still happens in Africa today but with several tribes and nations against each other.
Killmonger is defeated, but he wins the argument: Black Panther realises he's not the good guy! At the close of the movie, Wakanda begins to engage with the rest of the world, albeit on its own limited terms, which are a far cry from the armed uprising Killmonger had in mind.
But the difference is, T'Challa doesn't go wiping out people like Killmonger tried to do, or other bad things. So yeah, he's still the good guy, no matter what you have to say. And Killmonger isn't the only one wanting to trade with the world; T'Challa's ex-girlfriend and his sister shared the same idea too. While they also want to engage with the rest of the world, what makes them different from Killmonger is that they don't want to resort to senseless violence to get what they want.
The article mentions another Marvel movie, Thor: Ragnorok, where Hela tries taking over Asgard because Odin wasn't really a good guy. But the difference is that while Odin's not a nice guy, Hela's way worse. She seizes control of her world as well as trying to take other worlds as well. Since Earth is involved in this as well, that's why Thor has to fight her: to save the planet he's called home. I don't like assuming stuff, but I'm betting that this writer would roll over like a whipped dog and let Hela take over Asgard.
After pointing out the main villain from Spiderman: Homecoming having a good motivation (and from what I've heard, like other villains, it doesn't excuse what he did), the article also mentions Bane from "The Dark Knight Rises", which is a DC movie. In that movie, he tells the people this.
"We take Gotham from the corrupt! The rich! The oppressors of generations who have kept you down with myths of opportunity, and we give it back to you... the people. Gotham is yours. None shall interfere. Do as you please. Start by storming Blackgate, and freeing the oppressed! Step forward those who would serve. For an army will be raised. The powerful will be ripped from their decadent nests, and cast out into the cold world that we know and endure. Courts will be convened. Spoils will be enjoyed. Blood will be shed. The police will survive, as they learn to serve true justice. This great city... it will endure. Gotham will survive!"
But the writer has forgotten on how Bane took over Gotham by VIOLENT FORCE and riling up people's envy. Remember when I said that just because a hero doesn't save everyone all the time or has flaws doesn't make them villains? Well, this is like the opposite side: just because the villains have an understandable point does not justify any wrongdoings that they do.
And then we get to the final part of this article: Thanos did nothing wrong.
This brings us up to Infinity War's villain, Thanos. With a name like that, you know he's not a good guy. But nor is he textbook evil. He doesn't want to build an empire or amass wealth or any of the usual despotic bad guy things. He just wants to ensure balance to the universe, indiscriminately. Yu could call him a Matthusian extremist. "The universe is finite, its resources are finite. If left unchecked, it will cease to exist," he explains. "So many mouths and not enough to go around." You wouldn't call that evil if David Attenborough said it.
Don't know what David Attenborough has anything to do with it. Thanos is indeed a really interesting villain, from what I've heard: a bad guy who wants to do good but does something very evil to do it. But you know how Thanos tries to solve world hunger and all that? By destroying half of the flipping universe, killing trillions of people. He's punishing the innocent along with the guilty, playing God. With the Infinity Stones, he could've created unlimited resources, but he chose mass murder instead.
But wait. It gets better (AKA worse).
Thanos's methods are hardly humane, but there is a logic to his argument: climate change and environmental destruction are inarguable threats.
Actually, climate change can be arguable. It happens all the time. But please, continue.
Human existence is unsustainable. But Avengers gotta avenge. Rather than debating the validity of Thanos's arguments and acknowledging that something ought to change, the superheroes once again fight tooth and nail to preserve the status quo.
Debate Thanos? You want to debate Thanos? Thanos is called the "Mad Titan" for a reason, writer: he can't be reasoned with, though that doesn't make him stupid, just way off in his goals. He does have a sympathetic goal: he wants to help people with the problem of overpopulation and help get finite resources like food and whatnot. But what costs him that sympathy is his actions: blowing up half the flipping universe, sending trillions of people to their doom, no matter who's innocent or guilty. But rather than realize that that's a major threat, you want them to debate about how Thanos may have a point in doing this?
Here's a little scenario: years ago at a Walmart, a criminal grabbed hold of a little girl and demanded to be given what he wanted or he'd kill the girl. They did what he said, and then the criminal said that he'll kill the child anyway and started counting down from ten. One guy had an answer: he walked up to the criminal while he was counting and shot him in the head, saving the girl in the process. But according to the SJW, moral relativist, etc., you have to debate him to calm the criminal down, and if you stop him (whether by apprehending or killing the crook), you're as bad as he is for not thinking of how to change the status quo. When it comes to situations like this, there's no time for debates, and not much room either.
And speaking of "debate with Thanos", while we're on that subject, should Harry Potter have had tea with Voldemort and talked with him instead of having a final duel? Should Simba have talked with Scar and let him continue ruining the Pride Lands if it means letting the hyenas have more food? Should the forces of Rohan and Gondor debate with Sauron to let him control some land at the cost of costing the free people their freedom? Heck, you've got Warrior Cats now talking about talking to solve problems, which a little tooth and claw would've solved; that's how lame that series has gotten.
Finally, there's that line that says "the superheroes fight tooth and nail to preserve the status quo". It's more "they fight tooth and nail to prevent the needless slaughter of millions and trillions of lives".
But then again, this is coming from The Guardian. Why should I be surprised?
I hope you all enjoyed this essay. I might end up doing some more sometime down the road. See ya next time.