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Post By
Omar Karindu

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 4,242
In Reply To
Nitz the Bloody

Subj: Re: Fun from the evolutionary perspective
Posted: Mon May 25, 2009 at 12:49:21 am EDT (Viewed 152 times)
Reply Subj: Fun from the evolutionary perspective
Posted: Sun May 24, 2009 at 01:29:23 pm EDT (Viewed 199 times)

    The anthropological theory behind fun is well-documented as a means of survival preparation; young and old animals of sufficient intelligence play games in a safe environment as a means of preparing for challenges in reality. This applies to fiction as well; is it any wonder why violent movies and video games continue to proliferate?

Perhaps, but there are other structural elements of narrative forms of "fun" that Marvel seems determined to run roughshod over. The current Marvel Universe seems to suffer from a dearth of catharsis and resolution, even the limited forms thereof that serial narratives should offer.

Beginning perhaps as far back as Avengers Dissassembled, it's increasingly difficult to find a real victory for the Marvel Universe's ostensible heroic figures. At best, they win absurdly Pyrrhic victories; more often, they seem to unwittingly set the stage for still worse things to happen or hand the world to superhuman lunatics and sociopaths almost on a silver platter.

The Avengers turned out to be an incubator for a reality-warping psychotic who proved incurable, then vanished after decimating a struggling minority population. Nick Fury's attempt to stop Latveria from mounting a terrorist attack via costumed criminals was impeded by the U.S. government for political reasons, and then turned into an excuse to oust him from SHIELD.

The New Warriors contributed to the deaths of 600 civilians. The legislation that followed set up the assassination of Captain America by parties who remain unpunished -- the Red Skull is still at large in an Arnim Zola cyborg body, Doctor Faustus walked away clean, and Crossbones has yet to be recaptured after being broken from jail. The Illuminati's efforts to manage superhuman crises helped provoke World War Hulk and indirectly caused the Secret Invasion. Tony Stark found himself hunting down good people and was powerless to stop the Commission on Superhuman Affairs from letting bad ones take on unwarranted legal authority to do the same.

Doctor Strange's desperate efforts to stop the Hulk's rampage have left Earth without a Sorcerer Supreme and allowed Dormammu to make a serious bid at the title, endangering the entire dimension with the Hood as his proxy. The SHRA, Fury's counter-intelligence efforts against the Skrulls, and the superheroes' distant battle with the aliens all generated a situation in which thrill-killer Norman Osborn, already working his way into legitimate authority, was able to become one of the most powerful and influential men in the world and eplaced SHIELD with his Gestapo-like HAMMER. Oh, and HYDRA has regained its full operational strength because no one's paying them any attention.

Even on a smaller scale, you've got Spider-Man making a deal with Mephisto in the midst of a personal tragedy and winding up an incredibly ineffectual vigilante and human being as a side effect. And Daredevil...well, after Mister Fear flat-out won and now gets to use mind-control rape his own guards in prison with impunity and the Hand started butchering superhumans and reviving them as super-assassins yet again, and all that after Matt's "I'm the Kingpin" declaration got him jailed for a while and his identity opened up before that...who the hell needs Daredevil around?

If the superheroes started committing mass suicide and leaving notes inviting the villains and monsters to take over, I'm not sure things would be all that much different.

    Steve Rogers' resurrection followed by a total victory over Osborn and his thugs would make the heroes happier, it'd make the Marvel Universe safer...and in the end, it wouldn't be as fun. We didn't evolve to enjoy security...

Perhaps, but neither did we evolve into fundamentally asocial, unempathetic beings either. Yet in the current Marvel Universe, empathy and social conscience seem to be utterly, damningly futile. Trying to reign in unlicensed vigilantism simply creates a war-like situation followed by a world where the villains have essentially taken over. Superheroes no longer stop villains from causing mass casualty events or bringing about corruption and totalitarianism: instead, they show up after the bad guys have killed countless people or prove utterly useless against a flagrant psychopath like Norman Osborn.

More to the point, we seem to be seeing little more than a shallow, shock-oriented and ongoing dismantling of the MU's heroic archetypes. Steve Rogers is dead and has been replaced by a conflicted successor who commands none of his moral authority nor wishes to. Tony Stark is a mentally-addled fugitive. Reed Richards is a reactive dawdler in the main FF book and utterly lost in his own head (and various parallel worlds) in his current miniseries. Spider-Man has become someone incapable and somewhat uninterested in the "responsibility" part of the slogan. Professor X has turned out to be a manipulative bastard, and Cyclops has become the kind of guy who runs secret death squads and unwittingly sleeps with the enemy.

Who's left, really? Where are the superheroes in this alleged superhero genre?

- Omar Karindu
"For your information, I don't have an ego. My Facebook photo is a landscape."
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