There has to be something about a movie that rakes in $373 million in just two weeks that speaks to people. On one level, The Avengers is a wonderfully executed action movie – plenty of star power, just enough killing and maiming to keep it interesting but not enough to scare off the kids, and a terrific sense of humor. The characters are somewhat sympathetic and there is a touch of relationship building but nothing too sappy or deep. Other action movies have had this winning formula. So what is resonating so strongly with people that the box office keeps growing faster than a speeding bullet? (Sorry, wrong superhero)
The Avengers is a tale for today’s society.
Leadership manifested by this group of superheroes is a very contemporary reflection of our leaders. Let’s change some of the characters’ names and see what we think. What if we called Captain America, Barack? Iron Man, Mitt? The Hulk, maybe Newt? Is it too much to call Black Widow, Hillary? We could go with Sarah.
Each of these heroes is completely wrapped up in his or her game. They fight each other just as much as they fight the common enemy. They are all outsiders – misfits – yet are also admired. Each one is a remarkable leader in his or her own way. Left to themselves, they can never band together enough to solve any problem. So, as Agent Coulson put it so insightfully, working together would never happen unless they had something to … avenge.
Avengers is an apt name for this crew and for our times. Having a common enemy isn’t enough to bring us together. We bicker about the desired course of action. We malign each other’s motives. We cannot appear to be agreeing with anyone else or somehow our power is threatened.
Why do we have to wait until tragedy strikes to get it together?
One of my favorite mysteries in the movie is Bruce Banner's sudden ability to control the Hulk after the death of Agent Coulson. What???
While it doesn’t make much sense in this context, it is a metaphor for more human existence. We always have the power to control our lives. We simply believe it to be too hard until we are forced to. When faced with crisis we are suddenly capable of doing so many things that seemed out of our reach before. But in truth, they weren’t.
People have always been like this – a bit lazy until the **** hits the fan. So what’s new?
What’s new is that “Avengers” is whipping “Superman’s" butt. We have lost “truth, justice and the American way,” for “Avengers assemble.” Come together after crisis, not come together to fight for ideals. Sure, I can drop everything and travel to Haiti to work on humanitarian aid after the earthquake. Honestly, though, conditions in Haiti weren’t much better before the earthquake either. Where were we all then? We need to take control now – not wait until it is almost too late. We find ourselves waiting for the bottom to fall out before we move. This is not something we can afford. Not for our country, not for our organizations, not for ourselves.
I realize it’s strange to draw real life lessons from a movie, but if there is one, here’s what I find. Success – unmitigated, record-breaking success – can be had by bringing together a remarkable group of people to fight for one common cause. Let’s not wait for the next tragedy to hit us before we can reach those heights.