I saw "Captain America: Winter Soldier" again today, because it was outside of my house and the inside of my house was filled with family members. And I have thoughts, and I just remembered that I have a place to write those thoughts down, even though I haven't been using it for like a month
because I suck.
I wrote a post a while ago, and I'm not going to go and find it because I can't remember if it's from before or after my blog died and I had to start from scratch and if I look for it and it's dead it'll make me sad.
But the post was about The Avengers being effective because it appealed to the existence of a clear national morality. And I think there's a lot of that in "Winter Soldier" -- I mean, Captain America isn't exactly subtle.
SPOILERS START HERE, for Captain America: Winter Soldier and Iron Man 1 and 3, non-spoiler plot references to Thor and the Avengers.
And I know I'm not the first person to notice the connection between SHIELD/HYDRA and the NSA, or the attack plan of leaking all of SHIELD's secrets as a means of combating it being undeniably similar to Edward Snowden's recent political actions. (Whether it was a deliberate connection is debatable, I think: I don't know whether any of the production team has made any statements about it, but the Snowden leaks would have started around the middle of filming in June of last year, and they went back for two additional weeks of shooting in January of this year -- possibly to rewrite the ending?)
So, the moral of the story is pretty clear: secret ORG's = bad for democracy. Individual superhero avatars for national ehics and morality = good.
It reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend of mine, years ago, who was much more into comics than I was/am. She said she remembered reading a comic in which somebody asked Spiderman for advice about keeping his secret identity, because he was the best at it. She said that was ridiculous, because Spiderman spills his secret identity to basically everyone, apparently.
Then she noticed, all of a sudden, that all the superheroes with strong secret identities are DC heroes. In Marvel, everybody knows exactly who all the superheroes are.
I was thinking about that today, and I noticed that all the Marvel heroes in the Avengers series seem to exist, noticeably, in legitimate channels of government. I mean, they ignore them, sure, but Captain America has a real military rank; Black Widow is an agent of an organization; even Iron Man shows up to government hearings about the suit, even if it's just to say 'screw you, it's mine.'
And the bad guys are basically always keeping really big secrets. In Iron Man 1 and 3 there were conspiracies to manufacture terrorist threats for capitalist gain. In both Captain America movies there's a secret, extra-evil nazi organization existing within a larger military organization. In both Thor movies and the Avengers, among the bad guys is Loki, literally the liesmith.
So maybe the ethics of the Marvel universe are secrets = evil, transparency = good?
I still have complicated, mixed, poorly sorted thoughts about whether the superhero narrative is fundamentally-constructive-but-usually-flawed or fundamentally-problematic-with-redeeming-window-dressing. And I have a headache. But, hey, here's a blog post! Sorry to whoever represents the two hits I still get every day.