Saturday, May 12, 2012

We don't need guns. We have the Avengers.

I couldn't resist this post, even though it interrupts my Batman series. But how could I not comment on The Avengers a week after writing this:

"This of course gives progressives some idyllic comfort that order in society can be enforced without guns, justifying their love of gun control as well as their love of secular supermen who can save their utopian vision from reality. But this is only a superficial progressive bias."

That assessment, intended for The Dark Knight, fits The Avengers perfectly except for the "superficial bias" part. The anti-gun bias this time was a core element of the plot. I saw the movie last night, a week after opening. It broke a record for opening weekend. It really was a great movie. I heard a lot of great things about it and it did not disappoint. I'm very happy to see sci-fi oriented directors like Joss Whedon and J.J. Abrams make it in the big time. MOAR PL0X? Spoilers to come.

Hollywood really opened the door to their progressive bias for everyone to see on this one. None of our heroes use guns, except for a couple of scenes showing Black Widow and Nick Fury futilely popping away with a couple of peashooters and Captain America firing wildly, looking incompetent and eventually getting pwned while trying to fire an assault rifle he picked up off a bad guy. A spraying from a fighter jet's cannons only serves to make the Hulk angry, prompting him to destroy said jet. Bullets bounce right off every one of our superheroes, failing of course to ever hit the heroes who were actually vulnerable to them. Oh yes, I almost forgot. There was the scene where the minor character Phil Coulson tried to use a gun to kill the bad guy, and was immediately stabbed to death contemptuously, forever showing the futility of using mere projectile weapons against knives. The only characters in the entire movie who wielded guns effectively were the bad guys. The dedicated ranged hero, Hawkeye, wielded a bow just like the Hunger Games heroine and was given long periods of action film glory until he finally ran out of arrows. Iron Man uses missiles and rockets, not guns. Even when they want to use ranged weapons, Hollywood writers cannot bring themselves to use guns without portraying them as ineffective, evil or both. The bias, which is becoming more and more obvious, is absolutely fascinating to me.

Far more substantial than just the heroes not using guns is the anti-gun bias in the plot itself. The ineffectiveness and indeed, evilness of guns is the entire moral of the story. S.H.E.I.L.D., a group run by a bunch of suits in shadows, tries to use some device called the tesseract to make space-age guns to protect the earth from all the threats in the universe. Unfortunately the device backfires, opening a portal to another realm full of all the bad guys you could want. Loki, the chief villain, comes through first, wielding a spear type weapon that also fires energy projectiles and converts good guys to bad guys. (Iron Man derides this weapon as the "stick of destiny." Robert Downey, Jr. is great once again with the one-liners.) Loki is then followed by an army of evil aliens wielding similar weapons with only the energy projectile capability and no sharp edges or points in sight.

As the heroes battle the bad guys, the superheroes begin to realize that Nick Fury, S.H.E.I.L.D.'s fearless but puny human leader, is hiding the awful fact that his organization was *gasp* trying to make weapons for normal people to use against their extra-terrestrial enemies. The cur! The slime! How could he? Doesn't he know that the superheroes, not one of whom fails to whine, complain and resist the call of duty at the beginning of the movie, will always be on the job to protect humanity!? Fury redeems himself by converting after seeing his friend Phil Coulson stabbed to death after attempting to use one of the new weapons. Phil's dying words were something like: "It never would have worked, Nick." Of course guns don't work! Didn't you see all the bullets bouncing off everyone in the movie? Poor Phil Coulson, the repentant sinner who paid for his crime with his life, must be avenged by those who, by virtue of their non-self-propelled-projectile-less violence, have remained pure of heart. Ever after, the Avengers are motivated by vengeance against Loki for Coulson's death. Nick Fury even produces poor Phil's blood-stained Captain America trading cards to motivate said Captain and Iron Man, this of course being a bit of staged theater since Coulson did not have the cards on him when he bled to death. A deceitful, theatrical manipulation of emotion turns out to be the best weapon puny humans could ever need and the turning point of the movie. How baldly Hollywood proclaims the superiority of their art to the actual art of war. The emotional instability and gullibility of a few superheroes proves far more reliable security than arming the entire defenseless human race.

Fury is accosted by his shadowy suited overlords after his conversion, and promptly dismisses them without consequences, leading the audience to wonder why they were needed in the first place. They of course hatch an evil plot to nuke the portal to the other realm. You remember. The portal to an evil realm accidentally opened by the energy device while they were using it to make guns? Fury takes out one of the nuclear-armed fighter jets with a RPG. Apparently self-propelled projectiles are okay as long as they are being used to take out friendly nukes and are not themselves armed with nukes. But alas! A second nuke-laden jet makes it through and launches at our heroes fighting to save the world not only from aliens but also from its own evil desire to protect itself from said aliens. Iron Man saves the day by directing the good-guys-turned-bad-guys-rich-gun-and-nuke-loving-suited-overlord's nuke through the portal, where it fortuitously destroys the enemy mother-ship, nearly stranding poor Iron Man in space. Apparently nukes can only be effective after being launched by bad guys, redirected by the nuke-less and gun-less pure of heart and the beneficiary of happenstance. Even then the evil nuke nearly killed a pure of heart hero. Luckily there is enough of earth's gravitational field projecting through the portal into zero-G space to pull Iron Man back through the portal as it closes. And how did it close? How did our superheroes stop the evil cubic gun-creating portal-opening bringer-of-bad-guys tesseract after all projectile weapons failed to penetrate its shield? By poking the stick of destiny through the shield and stabbing it. Apparently even a stick is a more effective weapon than a gun.

Now that's whack.