Opinion: Marvel films teach their audiences heroism

Editor’s Note: This article does not contain any spoilers for “Avengers: Endgame.”

For Marvel fans around the world, April 25 was a long time coming.

Thursday night saw the opening of “Avengers: Endgame” across the
United States.

According to Fox News, “Avengers: Endgame” broke box office records for the biggest opening weekend with $350 million in the United States and $1.2 billion world wide. In Lynchburg alone, some fans lined up outside the theater more than two hours before the show time two nights after opening night.  

Non-superhero fans may scratch their heads in bewilderment or mutter darkly about blockbusters raking in money without having any substance, but that is untrue. 

The vast Marvel Cinematic Universe can help its fans become better people as they tackle some of the deepest elements of humanity through its films and television series. 

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MARVELOUS — “Avengers: Endgame” is the 21st Marvel Cinematic Universe film.

One of the predominant ways fans connect with Marvel is through its generally well-developed characters. Marvel superheroes follow the classical pattern of a hero who has existed since the days of the Iliad, a pattern designed to help viewers identify with the hero.

According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, a hero exists on another level from the rest of humankind. He or she is stronger, braver, better looking and more capable than most people. He or she appears to be “born to their role.” They may even be part god. 

A quick survey of most Marvel superheroes shows the classic definition of a hero undoubtedly applies. For example, Thor exhibits almost reckless bravery and possesses superhuman strength – no surprise, since he is from another planet where all the people seem to live for thousands of years and have several times the strength of the average human. Extraordinarily attractive, he is also the son of a king and is referred
to as a god. 

It is common knowledge that people are drawn to heroes. Children want to be them. Adults want to date them. Regardless of age, there is something about superheroes’ strength, courage and creative use of unique abilities that people want
to emulate. 

To make their superheroes even more appealing, Marvel makes them flawed. 

In an interview for a Marvel movie, Tom Hiddleston, the actor who plays Marvel villain Loki said, “What Marvel is so clever at is that they make their heroes flawed and their villains heroic.” 

Every Marvel superhero has a flaw. In fact, the plots of movies such as “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and “Captain America: Civil War” were driven more by the heroes’ flaws than their strengths. 

The flaws are not always inherently bad. Like Aristotle’s tragic hero, they are often based off good intentions gone awry, which makes the superheroes even more likeable.

 “Captain America: Civil War” is an especially good example. The movie is based off a split between the Avengers that resulted from a disagreement between the two most prominent members of the superhero team – Iron Man and Captain America – on how to look out for the best interests of the rest of the world. The extent to which fans sympathize with Marvel heroes is evident through the intense rivalry between those who agree more with Captain America – Team Cap – and those who agree more with Iron Man –
Team Iron Man. 

Not only do Marvel heroes teach people to be brave and creative, but they also teach people to love others despite their flaws. After all, both Captain America and Iron Man are flawed, but both still have armies of fans who understand their flaws and appreciate
them regardless. 

Another thing Marvel promotes throughout its movies is self-sacrifice. Its superheroes put their lives on the line everyday to protect the rest of the world and even the rest of the universe. In battle scenes, the heroes routinely go to great lengths to get civilians out of harm’s way.

One of the most poignant examples is Quicksilver’s death in “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” In the middle of a battle with a robot army, super-fast Quicksilver dashes in front of superheroes Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch to block the bullets headed their way. He dies from
his wounds.

If so many people with superhuman abilities can give themselves for others, then certainly Marvel fans can learn to appreciate self-sacrifice too.  

It is good that Marvel can help its fans become better people, because an army of them viewed “Avengers: Endgame” over its opening weekend. 

The movie showcased some of the deepest heroism Marvel fans have seen so far, touching at an even deeper kernel of heroism within each person who saw the film.

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