5 Deeply Troubling Questions The Marvel Movies Don't Address
Between alien invasions, massive terrorist sleeper cells within the government, and ancient religions being proven true, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is built on Earth-shattering revelations. The people in these films don't merely live in a world exactly like ours where five people have superpowers; they live in a world where Christians and Muslims can wait in line to get Thor's autograph.
Yet, despite its films and TV shows now encompassing a total runtime of over five days, the MCU has still avoided dealing with some of the inevitable life-changing implications of its stories. Like how ...
Hydra Has Obliterated Our Entire Understanding Of U.S. History
We are already terrible at questioning our own history. Most of us either accept what we were taught at face value, or go the opposite direction and assume it's secret lizard people all the way down. History is messy, incomplete, and open to interpretation ... yet our entire cultural identity depends on us having some kind of shared agreement about what it looked like. Now imagine a world in which we find out that a secret organization called Hydra has, in fact, been manipulating everything for decades.
"The financial crash? Us. Crack epidemic? Us. Star Wars prequels? You better believe it."
There are seriously Hydra agents everywhere in the Marvel Universe. What happens to American history when it's proven that an offshoot of Nazi Germany has been embedded in every major governmental organization for the last 80 years? Suddenly, no conspiracy theory is too stupid to discredit, no institution above reproach, no living American's faith in the system left even remotely intact.
Was Nixon a highly trained Hydra agent? There are ways it could make sense. Is Donald Trump a trainee Hydra agent, bumbling through a plan he found in Red Skull's notes? It's the only thing that makes sense. And speaking of Trump, he and every other idiot would accuse their enemies of being Hydra members after any disagreement. ("A lot of smart people are saying this -- tremendous people. You see how she whispers in Obama's ear? You see that?") It'd be like the Red Scare, only if had turned out Joe McCarthy was badly underestimating the conspiracy and/or was totally in on it.
The Red Scare / Red Skull thing is so on the no-- uh, you know what we mean.
Did Hydra have anything to do with the Manhattan Project? Vietnam? The assassinations of JFK and MLK? Every significant American moment would now be suspect. Any history book that didn't blame everything on Hydra would probably only indicate that it was printed by a publisher controlled by Hydra.
"You telling me that thing can't melt steel beams?"
At a certain point, even Hydra would have to get confused. Imagine a worldwide conspiracy where you have no idea who all the other members are, and everyone is working a wildly complicated plan. Is your fellow Hydra senator passing a civil rights bill to betray you, or is he working a scheme your department wasn't notified about? Is there even a point in destroying this society when you've all happily lived within it for eight decades? Did your Hydra regional manager forget about your chocolate allergy, or is your birthday gift basket an assassination attempt?
Sales Of One Company's Products Affect Iron Man's Ability To Save The World
This point can be summed up with a single question: What kind of asshole doesn't buy Stark Tech stock?
Do you remember the way people worshiped Steve Jobs, obsessing over whatever gadget he whipped out at MacWorld like it was going to singlehandedly cure our collective existential despair? Well, in the Marvel universe, their Steve Jobs has saved the world on multiple occasions, and was very clearly using company profits to do so. He's not a secret billionaire superhero like Batman, he's a very public billionaire superhero in charge of a publicly traded company. He also flies around the world and saves children.
Most CEOs who use company money for themselves get locked up. But most CEOs don't look fucking awesome in a suit of armor, either.
So imagine the weird cultish vibe that surrounds Apple as a brand, add in the upper-middle-class guilt that makes people shop at Whole Foods, and multiply it times ten. That's what it would be like for any damned product Stark's company produces. In the Marvel Universe, if you're going to buy a new phone, you're all but obligated to buy the StarkPhone instead of a competitor, because one company is going to use your money to fund a flying robot man who destroys alien armadas, and the other company is going to use it to not pay child workers in Shanghai.
In fact, companies that publicly back superheroes would almost certainly begin to dominate the market, because the world's safety will rely on their profits. A huge crash in Stark stocks could mean that Tony doesn't have enough money to repair all the parts of his suit blasted off by Zzzax. A commercial for Stark Tech could be him honestly saying, "If you buy electronics from anyone else, everyone you know will die. Hi, I'm Iron Man."
This is provided the stock doesn't panic-drop once the public sees him get his ass kicked for the first time.
Other corporations would be forced to compete by funding their own crime-fighters. Superheroes would be designed by marketing committees, and Thanos the Mad Titan might come to Earth and be met by Frito-Lord, whose power is exceeded only by his flavor and crunch. And if there's one thing for certain in any universe, it's that Frito-Lord would absolutely get us all killed.
They've Created Massive, Unspeakable Ecological Disasters
The cinematic diaper fire that was Batman V. Superman and the almost-as-terrible Man Of Steel are often mocked for their extreme property damage. But Marvel does a lot of this as well. For instance, it's not unusual for a massive helicarrier to fall out of the sky in a Marvel movie and unleash acres and acres of explosive death on anything below it.
As if the Potomac wasn't polluted enough before they dropped a million tons of exploding jet fuel into it.
The MCU is rife with events that would cause more environmental damage than a hundred tanker spills, but let's stick with the falling helicarriers from The Winter Soldier for now. The Potomac River is used by nearly 90 percent of the people in the Washington area. About 500 million gallons of water are withdrawn daily for human use, and this water already has to be heavily treated. Now introduce three exploding helicarriers to the broth.
The filmmakers never specified exactly what keeps S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarriers in the air, but it has to be an astonishing amount of densely stored energy of some kind. And no matter what form it takes, that shit isn't going to be good for you. It's either A) millions and millions of gallons of jet fuel, B) a series of massive nuclear reactors, or C) something so exotic that no hazmat team in the world even knows how to clean it up.
Superheroes create a new super-serum every other Wednesday. One's bound to make a military base fly sooner or later.
Dropping that shit into a the Potomac would probably cause flames to shoot out of every faucet in five states. Fiery toilets would kill hundreds of thousands of Americans butthole-first, and they'd be the lucky ones. Everyone else would be evacuated to FedEx Field to slowly die of radiation exposure under the ceaseless gaze of the Washington Redskins logo.
Sure, history is littered with major ecological disasters brought on by ships, tankers, or collapsing oil rigs, but most of these happen out at sea, where it has to pass through an entire food chain before it kills us. S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarriers, on the other hand, tend to hover directly over the most densely populated areas on Earth. And they don't stay up there very well. Besides the three that crashed in Winter Soldier, one almost went down in The Avengers. If you live in the Marvel Universe, your property values plummet every time S.H.I.E.L.D. flies over your house.
Avengers (and foreclosure agents) assemble!
And that's just one example. Iron Man's entire mansion dropped into the sea in Iron Man 3, and those movies made a point of showing how not even the world's greatest intelligence agency knows what the hell he's building in there. It's possible his lab is powered by concentrated ocean poison, or is filled self-replicating nano sharks. At the very least, the local SCUBA divers now have access to enough cutting-edge weapons technology to level a city.
What's in that car alone could probably power at least a dozen evil underwater bases.
The World Would Be Full Of Wannabe Superheroes -- And Related Catastrophes
The elephant in the room of the Iron Man universe is this: Why couldn't Tony Stark make suits for his friends? Why not one for Hawkeye? Or Black Widow? Captain America? Then you'd have four Iron Men -- one who's great at martinis and wisecracks, and three who are elite fighting masters. Hawkeye held his own during an alien invasion with a handful of bottle rockets. Imagine if he had unlimited lasers and a jet pack!
The point is that, in this world, virtually everyone else seems fine with not having superpowers, despite the fact that obtaining them isn't that hard. Forget about the expensive power suit; it seems like every lethal accident in that universe has a two-in-three chance of bringing you back to life a hundred times stronger. We're pretty sure that once superpowers are on the table, everyone will want them, for the same reason you were counting the days until you could own a smartphone from the moment you first saw one.
This isn't even factoring in people flocking to get a smartwatch that isn't complete bullshit.
The moment the Avengers showed up on the news, every nerd and/or violent person in their world started sewing their own crime-fighting costume. And that's not necessarily crazy -- of the six main Avengers, three are regular humans with a bow, sex appeal, and a power suit, respectively. And those regular humans saved that entire world. It'd be almost irresponsible for a combat vet, trained fighter, or mercenary to not try to be a superhero.
There'd be a whole marketplace and subculture surrounding it, similar to America's gun culture today. You'd be one Google search away from web shooter schematics, knockoff repulsor gauntlet dealers, or experimental gamma treatments. Speaking of guns, a few people might even notice that regular guns are deadlier than 80 percent of superpowers and create a vigilante persona around their assault rifle. Can you even imagine a world in which assholes wandered around with assault rifles and thought they were helping?
Got 'roid rage or a god complex? You get to hero, too.
So far, Marvel has only shown us the success stories. Now ask yourself: Based on what you have observed of the world, what percentage of humans who want to fix things with violence can be trusted to do it right? The problem wouldn't be supervillains -- it would be hordes of superpowered dipshits. Hidden out of frame of every scene in these movies must be countless idiots who blew themselves up trying to give themselves flight or laser palms.
And those are just the DIY nuts. Simply by existing, superheroes would also create an international arms race threatening the life of every guinea pig, chimp, and death row prisoner around the world, as scientists jammed them full of chemicals in a race for the next Hulk. And it would really only take five or six Hulks before all the world knows is smashing.
And if the Hulks don't get you, the Hulkbusters will.
And Those Who Couldn't Get Powers Would Get Bigger Guns
No matter when this article is published, it's safe to lead in with a mention of the latest high-profile shooting in America and how it has put gun control at the forefront of public debate once again. It's easy to know how that drama will play out in our world -- soaring profits for gun manufacturers (sales go way up after every attack) and the same Facebook arguments we all had two weeks ago. But how would these issues look in the Marvel Universe?
At first, one might think the overall effect would be positive. With superheroes around, there is less need for individuals -- or even entire countries -- to spend money to defend themselves, right? Why would you need a shotgun if there are actual Norse gods who can warp down from Asgard to save you?
This is the United States of America. Let's not be silly.
We scream "tyranny" when our taxes rise 50 cents. Guess how we'd handle an overlord who could thunder-roast anyone who sneered at him?
As we said above, the appearance of an advanced group of people with powers beyond those of normal humans is going to result in said normal humans desperately wanting to imitate them. But the glory and awesomeness isn't even the biggest motivation -- it would also be the only way to protect your family from the terrors of space monsters, Nazis, and supervillains. This is a world of new, superpowered threats, and assuming you're not lucky enough to have radioactive insects lying around, your alternative is guns. The biggest you can find.
So you either attack the bad guys with a penis metaphor, or ... a penis metaphor.
It's not like guns are ineffective -- even a small one would kill most Iron Man, Captain America, Daredevil, and Jessica Jones villains. And with portals to alien invasion armadas opening up, no politician would dare suggest disarming citizens.
Speaking of gun control legislation, would superpowers themselves be classified as deadly weapons? If superheroes are expected to register with the government, thanks to the Sokovia Accords, do they have to act as if they are always carrying? When a cop pulls Jessica Jones over, does she have to inform him, "Officer, I can rip people in half with my bare hands. Also, I'm fucking drunk."
"And I'm Hawkeye! I have a Class F bow and arrow license, officer, and my bow is in the glove box."
That's where things get really blurry. What qualifies as a superpower? If Hawkeye qualifies on the strength of being really good with a bow and arrow, what about a real Army sniper who can consistently kill dudes from 2,000 yards away? Is that a superpower? What about your uncle who can fart the alphabet? And what would the law say about all of our do-it-yourselfers who now have hero gadgets strapped to their bodies -- technology evolving so fast that Congress would have no chance but to regulate it, even if it didn't want to? Thank goodness we have HYDRA to keep all this under control.
For more things that probably never dawned on you, check out 6 Important Problems That Famous Movies Forgot To Solve and 6 Horrifying Implications Of Awesome Fantasy Movie Universes.
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