rhoda_rants: (bucky)
[personal profile] rhoda_rants
If you somehow missed the foolishness in Marvel comics last weekend, this just happened.

This matters why? Well, it matters to me because I am a practicing Pagan with a strong affinity for Trickster archetypes and Norse mythology, and I just found out Neo-Nazis claim Thor’s hammer as one of their symbols. That messed me up a LOT. This must be a little like how moderate-to-liberal Christians feel when hard-right assholes do asshole things in the name of their God. Actually, there’s no end to the otherwise innocuous symbols fascist garbage people will glom onto: the original Swastika, jackboots, this John Carpenter movie for some reason, milk, New Balance sneakers, heavy metal, punk rock, and red shoelaces, to name just a few.

Although in fairness, I’m not sure whether the red shoelaces are a thing in real life or if that was invented for the movie Green Room. (Tangent: Watch Green Room. But gird your loins if you were especially fond of Anton Yelchin. It’s nasty. I watched it way sooner than I should have.)

Anyway, they’re apparently super into Norse stuff and vikings in general, because White People, or Superior Warrior Race, or something. Making Captain America a Nazi sympathizer was bad enough. Handing him Thor’s hammer and declaring him “worthy” of it is SO MUCH WORSE.

GIF of Chris Evans as Steve Rogers w/ text reading, “Son, just don’t.”

The original reason I started putting this particular post together was so I could talk about the evolution of hero worship over the centuries. We’re gonna have to do that some other time, because it’ll get too long and confused if I try to put both ideas in the one post.

So here's a question: How much power do our modern, celluloid-and-trade-paperback heroes actually have? Are our shippings wars, metas, and head-canons a new extension of classical hero worship? Are superheroes this generation's Epic Heroes? And what does it mean when one of them aligns himself with one of the biggest real-world threats to human decency and goodness this Earth has ever known?

There are two huge tent pole companies that control most of what happens in comics, and when one of them poses its universally recognizable "good guy" superhero with a less well-known but still recognizable symbol for white supremacy--that sends a message. So does the fact that the second-most highly anticipated upcoming winter blockbuster features refurbished incarnations of ancient Norse deities. (I assume I don’t have to clarify what the first is.)

Luke Skywalker and Chewbacca sitting in Millennium Falcon cockpit
w/ text reading “I have a very bad feeling about this.”


So many of us fannish types stock a certain amount of importance in heroes. Whether that "hero" takes the form of a fictional character, a storyteller, a musician, an exceptional blogger, a family member, or a politically active celebrity, our admiration for them gives them influence over us. When I say I choose my heroes very carefully, this is what I'm talking about. I make an effort to surround myself with people--real and imaginary--who do what I perceive as good work.

Steve Rogers, at least the way he's been portrayed so far in the MCU, does good work. He values freedom and individuality. He puts his own life in danger in service of a cause he thinks is important. He doesn't judge others based on race or gender or ability. He's not afraid to get his hands dirty when something hard needs to be done. He earns the trust of the people around him by demonstrating his dedication to his ideals even when they don't line up with what his official superiors tell him. He nurtures the talents of others with potential and a drive to do the right thing, even or especially when the surrounding society has given up on them.

That's a hero I can believe in. Comic!Steve has always fluctuated depending on who's writing him at the time, and I honestly don't have much interest in going through his backlog anyway. Movie!Steve has become my favorite Avenger. And Chris Evans has become one of those real-life heroes I look up to so much. It's somewhat mollifying to know that he doesn't endorse this nonsense either, but it's cold comfort since this arc will roll on regardless. Plus there's no way to tell just how much of said nonsense will filter into the MCU. (I've talked before about how much The Winter Soldier was rearranged for the movie-verse, but here's the link if you're new here.)

Interesting side-note: the MCU already did this in the opposite direction with the Maximoff twins. In the comics, they were Magneto's children. The same Magneto who was a Holocaust survivor. Who the comics are allegedly turning into yet another Hydra sympathizer--look, I don't even KNOW, but one rage-post at a time, okay? Anyhow, Fox still owns the X-Men but Disney owns the Avengers and never the twain shall meet, so the Magneto parentage had to get cut. There were other options they could have gone with. The difference here is the Maximoffs spend the first act of Age of Ultron in the villain slot--in other words, as long as they’re still with Hydra, they’re the bad guys. But they aren’t bad people. They are victims of circumstance who have enough human kindness and compassion to switch sides when they figure out how far their unstable ally is willing to go.

Elizabeth Olson as Wanda Maximoff kneeling/screaming inside
a red cloud of Ultron-destroying rage magic.


And here’s the thing--Steve recognizes that from the beginning. He’s the only one who says, “Hang on. They’re just kids, and they have reason to be pissed off. Let’s try reaching out to them instead of attacking and see how that goes?” In the MCU, we understand that Hydra is always the bad guy. But we also understand that decent people can get mixed up in their bullshit, and it’s the horrible brainwashing and advantage-taking involved in said bullshit that’s to blame, not necessarily the individuals themselves. Most of all, we are never asked to think of Hydra as the good guys. When characters show up who are working with Hydra but still portrayed sympathetically--like Wanda, like Pietro, like Bucky--we KNOW that they’re being controlled or fed lies in order to stay there. That’s the difference between something like the Maximoffs being allied with Hydra in the beginning, then switching teams; and Captain America being retconned as some sort of double-agent and having the creators tell us that he’s still the same Steve Rogers and Hydra aren’t actually evil fascists.

Fuck. That. Noise.

I can’t say my enthusiasm for Ragnarok and the MCU in general hasn’t been soured by this development. But I don’t want to tell anyone to boycott Marvel entirely. I certainly won't, because it's been way too long since The Dark World and I need my Loki fix. But also, there is still great work happening elsewhere in the multiverse. If you aren’t reading Ms. Marvel or Alias or Loki: Agent of Asgard or Silk or any of the other solid titles that AREN’T written by Nick Spencer, then you are most definitely missing out. Same with Netflix series like Agents of SHIELD or Jessica Jones or Luke Cage. I won’t tell you to keep supporting this company if this puts a bad enough taste in your mouth either. This is a huge misstep that nobody wanted or needed.

The sad thing is, I don’t think any of the higher-ups who decide How Things Are in the comic world will care enough to make sure it stops, or doesn’t happen again. Marvel will recover from this just fine. The rest of us? Well, I guess only time will tell.
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