I finally got around to seeing the Avengers yesterday with my son Jacob. Like many of you, we have periodic and passionate debates as to which superhero is best. I’m partial to Iron Man. That may be because I still have issues #30-300 in my garage from when I was Jacob’s age, but my view of Tony Stark has soured somewhat with age. In preparation for the Avengers, I finally let Jake watch the TV edited versions of Iron Man I & II (I don’t mind the action but he’s not ready for the adult themed sexual innuendo yet), but I still had to preface the movie for him. “Jake” I said “I’m going to let you watch this, and you’re going to think Tony Stark is awesome, but remember he’s not and we can discuss it after the movie.” Iron Man’s appeal is obvious. His super power is brilliance coupled with obscene wealth (something which we could delude ourselves into believing are possible for ourselves). To my relief my little genius didn’t need much leading to see the same flaws in Tony that have been highlighted over the past 49 years (isolation, alcoholism, etc.). We both agreed the Hulk is cool and funny. Although Jake preferred the Ed Norton version, I was pleasantly surprised by Mark Ruffalo’s interpretation. When pressed, Jake and I both would put Spiderman in our top three. He’s smart, funny, altruistic, and didn’t seek power, but gained it by accident (unlike Iron Man). But both of us were supprised by the power of Nick Furry, Director of S.H.I.E.L.D (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division) an international peace keeping agency as played by Samuel Jackson (perennial bad ass mutha…).
What power is Nick Fury’s power your ask? I’m glad you did. Fury, despite (or perhaps because of depending on how cynical you are) being a Machiavellian people user has the power to inspire individuals to act collectivly for a common purpose. Okay, so that’s not nearly a cool as flying or x-ray vision, but if the Avengers proved nothing (and it probably didn’t) it was that we are stronger when we work together no matter how weak or strong we are individually. That means it’s to the benefit of the strongest (wealthiest, smartest, etc.) among us to collaborate with the rest, and this is a lesson the 1% could use now more than ever.
So yes, my adult self is a fan of the bureaucrat in the movie. And yes I still think Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark is far more entertaining. But when you ask me who’s the best super hero? Who would I call on in a time of crisis? I’d call on the ordinary guy with an extraordinary capacity to lead.