I am a violence wuss. I freely acknowledge this. I don’t find violence on the screen entertaining. This stems from my college days when, as a history major, I learned about wars and the futility of wars. One spring I saw Gallipoli, Breaker Morant and Apocalypse Now. In one weekend. That summer, I took a class called “Pacific Wars” and got up at 8 a.m. to listen to an hour-long lecture about politics and the failure of diplomacy, then watched two hours of PBS series, The World at War (the episodes on the war in the Pacific) and then Viet Nam, A Television History. I swore I would never see another war movie, or movie based on violence again.
Then I met my boyfriend, who is a Marvel dude. In an attempt to score Girlfriend Points (and get him to come see a movie I wanted to go to), I went to Jonah Hex. Ugh. Not just on violence, but the movie just wasn’t that good. But he sweet-talked me into seeing the first Avengers movie, explaining the characters, his enthusiasm spilling over onto me. And I loved it. The cartoon violence was far enough away from the war movies to be palatable, the script was well written, the dialog funny, and Good fought Evil and Evil was vanquished. Great entertainment. Swept me into an alternative universe where big green men can be funny. Good wins (did I mention the part how I like it when Good wins?). So I went with him to see other Marvel movies and enjoyed the sheer entertainment value of the series.
Until yesterday. I’d heard mixed things about the new Capitan America movie. How they fight each other. A mom posted on FB how her son was crying when they got home, him sitting on his bed with the Capitan America sheets, surrounded by Capitan America posters. How could he do this? Cap can’t be on the bad side. I smiled at his young angst at the time, but today, I’m feeling his pain.
The goal of a moviemaker is point of a movie is to draw you into a different world and create an emotional response in the viewer. The Marvel movies have been extraordinarily successful at this, partially because they have huge crowds of comic book fans who walk into that universe as they take their seats. And Good fights Evil, sometimes with in-fighting because of huge super hero egos, but they always come together in the end. Until yesterday.
I realized as I left the movie that I was feeling very conflicted. In previous Marvel movies, when violence occurs, you know who to root for. You see Iron Man get hit and say ‘ouch’. You watch the Black Widow take down a guy and uses him as a shield to stave off bullets and say “you GO girl!” You watch some team of bad guys try to take down the Hulk and think “that’s never going to work! Ha!”
But yesterday these emotions became stifled and confused. How am I supposed to feel when Hawkeye is shooting arrows at Vision? When the Black Widow is taking down Falcon? Worst of all, I watched Captain America slam his shield into Iron Man’s heart and I chocked. How am I supposed to feel about this? Who am I supposed to be rooting for? I hate that they’re fighting. I hate that this is the end of the movie and this won’t be resolved. I hate that the bad guy won. He won by setting up the standoff, by making them fight each other. So what that he was captured? He’s created a world where trust has been broken. THE BAD GUY WON.
I walked away feeling dirty and disgusted and unhappy. There is enough broken trust in the world without having to see it as ‘entertainment’. I feel like Marvel broke they’re contract with us. It’s a comic book universe, dammit. Act like it.