I am not a psychologist, and the only exposure that I have to males that are under the age of ten is my younger brother. That being said, from what I know of my brother and his friends, The Avengers has adopted a sort of mythology around it.
For the group of nine year olds that frequented my house, the Avengers team were very much alive. Playing with action figures, and watching the cartoons on TV, the boys gave me surprising insight into their own perception of the hit series.
One boy, James, explained to me“ Bruce Banner became the Hulk when angry, and because he the Hulk was green, Bruce was jealous of all the other people who didn’t have to change and smash things.”
As simplistic as his explanation was, there was also some validity to it. The intricacies that Marvel likes to weave around its story lines is very present within Bruce Banner’s story arc. Let me try to make sense of it: Captain America was a runt of a soldier during World War II, who was going to sidelined during the war given his severe asthma. As a good patriot, Captain America desired to fight for his country against the Nazi forces so when given the option to be a human trial for an experimental ‘serum’ he took it.
Fast forward to around the Cold War era where Bruce Banner, a scientist researching gamma-radiation, attempts to replicate the previously mention ‘serum’. Bruce was powered by ambition and the the desire to impress, which led to using the radiation on himself, forgoing both medical and scientific protocol of extensive trials before human testing. In a nutshell, what caused the character to head down that path was ambition, a word that is usually correlates with greed.
Did the other boy’s have similar insights?
Yes they all did. While I was first surprised, I now realize that it is because The Avengers broaches topics that are universally understood.
Did boys see the brawny Avenger’s team, and think that masculinity only equated to appearance?
My own opinion is that to a certain extent, yes. The action scenes, the gear that the actors are made to wear, everything emphasizes the physique of the actors. Take for example Chris Hemsworth, the actor who plays Thor. The uniform he wears is tight fitting, and cuts off at the shoulders displaying his impressive musculature.
The basis of which I wrote this chapter was the TedX talk done by Colin Stokes, How Movies Teach Manhood. Stokes draws his analysis from Disney Princess movies, and explains that while female empowerment in cinema is on the increase, the idea that males can be masculine and emotional has still not been explicitly shown.
The basis of this chapter was the TedX talk done by Colin Stokes, How Movies Teach Manhood. Stokes draws his analysis from Disney Princess movies, and explains that while female empowerment in cinema is on the increase, the idea that males can be masculine and emotional has still not been explicitly shown.
I think that because Marvel is including children in the target audience, some tangible or visible acknowledgment that masculinity is not only appearance, is necessary. Has Marvel accomplished this with the female characters?