My 13 year old Marvel loving son and I saw the latest Avengers blockbuster recently. I’d read a piece prior to seeing the movie titled, “Age of Ultron May Be the Most Spiritual Superhero Movie Yet,” and I can see why. But it’s not just spiritual in the amorphous sense of the word, like people today might say, “I’m spiritual not religious,” but Christian. Even, if I remember correctly, when one of the heroes near the end of the movie sacrifices his life to save innocents from the bad guys, or bad robots, he is laid out in death in a cross-like fashion.
So as I’ve been thinking about the movie a question came to mind that I’d like to put out there to the faithful readers of The American Culture. Why do you think in the liberal bastion of Hollywood where there are not many overtly religious people, would they take the trouble to put so many religious and specifically Christian references in a blockbuster movie? I have a theory, but I’d love to hear any others with ideas why this might be so in the age of the “nones.”
It is common among those of a conservative, more traditionalist bent, to see America as Slouching Towards Gomorrah,” the title of a book by the late Justice Robert Bork, or going to Hell in a handbasket. Maybe it’s the optimistic disposition I seem to have been born with, but I’m more hopeful. This blockbuster Avenger’s movie is just another reason why. My theory is that Hollywood, and those that produce, write and direct movies, have seen the economic clout of conservative Christians, Catholic or protestant, and realize appealing to them makes good business sense.
Not only this, but the essential conservative message of the movie appeals to the better angels of the American public’s nature. In addition to the basic good versus evil motif, we see the fundamental downside of utopian idealist visions to make the world what it simply is not and can never be; good intentions can lead to very bad results. We are also shown the hubris of thinking technology can solve what is intractable in human nature, when it clearly cannot. Of course Tony Stark, Mr. Hubris himself, would be the one to learn this lesson the hard way.
The American people are fundamentally decent and conservative by disposition. Even in the drive to redefine marriage, polls tell us that a majority now think same-sex marriage is ok. Why? Because the dominant media culture has made the issue fairness, and Americans above all want to be fair. Not a terrible character trait in a people. No, to hell, I think, we are not going.