Hollywood movies aren't always as dumb as you think they are. Sometimes they (or their source material) have a profound philosophical message you might have missed beneath all the special effects and explosions. For example ...
5The Avengers Franchise Is All About Nietzsche (Being Wrong)
If Friedrich Nietzsche had lived to see the age of comic books, he probably would have been a fan. After all, Nietzsche actually coined the term "superman" before Superman, although he was German, so he pronounced it "ubermensch." So it's probably a good thing that he died before Marvel Studios went ahead and took a big dump on his philosophy.
Nietzsche's most famous quote to ever be misunderstood by a Kevin Sorbo movie was "God is dead," but he wasn't really saying that God literally choked on a pretzel. What he was really trying to say was that there is no objective morality, and without that, concepts like good, evil, equality, and human rights kind of go out the window. Nietzsche wasn't a big fan of democracy for this reason, because he thought all people aren't created equal, and ideally we'd be ruled by our betters -- supermen.
Or the angry militants who killed the superman's dad.
Avengers: Age of Ultron is about how this is actually a terrible idea. Part of what makes the Avengers franchise popular is that it gives depth to superheroes and portrays them as flawed people. The problem is that they're flawed people with superpowers, which makes them a danger to the rest of us, even while they're trying to protect society. The Avengers are striving for a Nietzschean ideal, but every so often their efforts just wind up turning New York into a pile of rubble while they eat shawarma like a bunch of assholes.
Nietzsche would actually have been critical of most comic superheroes as an expression of the ubermensch, because they limit themselves with a moral code. Superman and Batman have a policy against killing because they think it's just morally wrong, but Nietzsche believed that any policy that relied on higher morality was a weakness for any self-respecting ubermensch because he believed higher morality did not exist -- a true superman would only live by his own rules.
Or, to put it another way, they would be all Hulk and no Banner.
This is where Ultron comes in, because Ultron really is the ubermensch, and in case you didn't know, he's the villain. When Tony Stark becomes disillusioned about the Avengers' ability to truly protect mankind, he creates Ultron, who immediately decides that the only way to achieve world peace is to kill, just, everyone. As soon as he appears, Ultron quotes the famous philosopher Pinocchio: "There are no strings on me." It's a succinct way of declaring that he's bound by no laws of man or God, just the way Nietzsche would have wanted it.
"My only limits are my own imagination and a slapdick script."
The movie then kind of muddies its own message by creating Vision, a much better ubermensch tasked with cleaning up Stark's latest mess. But taken as a whole, the Avengers franchise makes things pretty clear that a world run by superheroes would just kind of royally suck.
4 Pixar Movies Are About Coping With Nonhuman Intelligence
Pixar movies are beloved by children and adults alike, because they're not just a load of fun, they're also deep and emotional. Except the Cars franchise, which is just an obvious cash cow. But it turns out that Pixar might be playing a long game of philosophical insight -- their movies all share a common theme about what it really means to be human. Except Cars.
Walt Disney Studios
Although we guess it is insight to human wants of maximum money for minimum effort.
According to Kyle Munkittrick of Discover magazine, Pixar movies at their core are all about humanity's struggle with the idea of nonhuman intelligence, a concept that we're going to have to deal with if we're ever going to face aliens, artificial intelligence, or if dolphins ever decide to stop messing with us and play it straight.
The key is that all of Pixar's films (except Cars, fuck Cars) take place in our world. Unlike other Disney films, there's no magic, unless you count the superpowers of The Incredibles as magic. The toys in Toy Story aren't animated by some witch's curse, they're just really alive.
And really horrified by what you did when you thought you were alone in your bedroom.
And that brings us to the next point -- every Pixar film includes at least one character who is not human, but displays human intelligence. Even Up had a dog who could talk through the magic of technology. The one exception, kind of, is The Incredibles, but we'll come back to that.
In some of these movies, especially the Toy Story franchise, the humans freak out when they discover that something they formerly believed to be inanimate shows human intelligence. In others, such as Ratatouille and WALL-E, the human characters come to accept the sentience of their nonhuman counterparts and form a team. In all cases (except Cars), humans have to deal in some way with the fact that they don't hold a universal monopoly on intelligence.
For starters, seafood sales probably plummeted.
Now, as we just mentioned, the outlier here is The Incredibles, but it's pretty much the exception that proves the rule. It doesn't focus on nonhumans, but it does focus on superhumans, but the theme here is that superheroes are people too. Rather than a society struggling with the idea of nonhuman intelligence, The Incredibles is all about society struggling with the idea of superhumans, and when the Incredibles win the day through the strength of their family bond, it teaches us that we can find common ground even with people who seem superior to us.
Oh, and that Larry the Cable Guy tow truck was pretty funny sometimes we guess?