The Fall of the House of Marvel – the Foundation Crumbles

The Fall of the House of Marvel – the Foundation Crumbles

Ms. Marvel has defied my best efforts to write a review of it.  There is just nothing there to comment on.  It’s all very dull boring and tedious.  Nothing really happens.  I was left feeling bad for the lead actress Iman Vellani.  If Bree Larson had put half the effort into being as likable Vellani has, I would have been making excuses for her performance in Captain Marvel.  Vellani probably is the only genuine Ms. Marvel fan in all existence. Her story about how she made a Ms. Marvel costume for Halloween and then had to buy a Ms. Marvel comic as part of that costume, (because everyone thought she was the Flash), was adorable.  She loves, loves, loves Ms. Marvel.  Vellani has no other acting credit other than Kamala Khan.  She sent in a video and everyone at Marvel Films fell in love with her.  She has her dream job, and it shows.  Which is why I can’t help but feel bad for her.

Young Ms. Vellani’s pleasant personality doesn’t make up for the fact that Ms. Marvel is utterly unwatchable.  

Ms Marvel has the two biggest problems that the Phase IV Marvel heroines have had.  One, is an ill-defined amorphous power:

“Also, her new superpower sucks.  Her old power stunk too but at least you knew what it was.  You could at least define it.  But now Ms. Marvel has MSheU  Female Power powers.  You know what I mean, she just has the power to have Power.  The new MSheU heroines have the same kind of ill-defined energy field that lets them do whatever.  Scarlett Witch started the trend, although it kind of worked for her character.  Then Captain Marvel had the same kind of power to have Power and her entire story arc was learning to use more of it.  Monica Rambeau had the same power at the end of WandaVision, as well as the power of moral relativism if she felt sad for her monstrous friend. 

The Marvel Female Power power is proof that Kevin Feige was never into comics at all.  He’s creating his own superheroines now and they all suck because you can’t point to a single one and say her superpower is this.”

The second issue, is the real problem.  Kamala Khan’s uncompelling foundational narrative:

Her backstory.  She wants to be a superhero to gain fame and attention.  She becomes a superhero. And gets fame and attention.

The sad part is, that this actually workable if you use it as starting point.  Kamala Khan gains superpowers and then fame and attention.  However, this leads to a moral failure that has a severe cost for her family.  She vows she will never have that kind of failure again and it drives her to become a real, more selfless hero.   It’s basically Peter Parker’s story but it still works.

Of course, having a non-white girl commit a moral failure is unthinkable these days, so it’s safer for everyone if she just stays a Mary Sue.  

She is literally not allowed to become a better character.”

Ms. Marvel is hardly alone there.

All of the Marvel heroes have had their foundational narratives erased since Iger made Kevin Feige the El Supremo of Marvel.

Captain America was the biggest problem for them.  He’s an aspirational hero who is very much in the Proven Worthy model. He’s always stood for what is best in the American spirit.  Steve Rogers was a genuinely good and heroic man from America’s mighty past. This is like vinegar in the eyes for Woklings.  “The humans do not start from that direct perception of Him which we, unhappily, cannot avoid. They have never known that ghastly luminosity, that stabbing and searing glare which makes the background of permanent pain to our lives.” C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters. 

Marvel Comics tried making him a no-shit NAZI.  That got them so roundly dragged across ground glass that they had to retcon the retcon.  Then they got rid of him and replaced him with a black man.  Because that is the closest thing to aspirational that the Wokelings can get.  The closest thing they have to morality is a victim hierarchy.

When Chris Evans decided that he was tired of hitting the gym and wanted to stretch himself by playing such characters as Buzz Lightyear and Chris Evans, the replacement character was spinal reflex.  So far as Feige is concerned, Sam was proven worthy of being Captain America by successfully surviving birth. When the original character is mentioned at all, he is now called “Captain Rogers.”

The Hulk’s foundational story has also been erased, thus destroying the heart of the character. What made Hulk so compelling was the Jekyll and Hyde story of Bruce Banner and the Hulk.  They couldn’t stand each other.  Banner the calm rational lettered man of science superego and his darkest, unstoppably powerful id, the Hulk.  The pain of their dual existence was why people were picking up Hulk comic books for sixty years.

However, in 1962, the id was something to be restrained.  By 2016 the id was something to be celebrated.  Self-restraint had become a crime against the self. All desires were something to be indulged in without regret, hesitation, constraint, and most importantly without repression.  And all of the many versions of Hulk now available to include Bruce Banner himself are super cool about being the Hulk.  The id is something that MUST be indulged.

And finally on this quick survey, let’s take a look at just how subtly, yet severely Tony Stark’s foundational story was subverted and destroyed.  

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23). 

Professor Geek point this one out.

Tony Stark’s story was one of redemption.  The price of his redemption was that there was a sword of Damocles hanging over his life in the form of inoperable metal shards that were millimeters from destroying his heart at any given time.  But his physical heart was the least of what Tony had to guard once he was on his road of atonement.  

Tony’s heart was the source of everything he did; all the good he was determined to do in this world. Yet his heart was also under constant attack.  He was an extraordinarily wealthy man and he needed that wealth to accomplish his new life’s mission.  But that wealth was always going to be a source of tremendous temptations for him.  The power he wielded as Ironman was also a source of temptation.  Viewed from that perspective, it is unsurprising that the Libertarian Tony Stark was on board with governmental oversight of his and all superhero’s actions.  It was another layer of protection for his heart.

Protecting his heart was a great metaphor for the journey that Tony Stark will be on for the rest of his life.

Or at least the journey he was supposed to be on. 

This is the first real indication I ever noticed of genuine evil making its presence felt at Marvel.  The men in charge of it, were for reasons they probably never understood fully, extremely uncomfortable with Tony Start guarding his heart.  There was no need to remove the shrapnel from his chest other than the fact that Marvel Film’s leadership just didn’t like what it was doing.

When Tony no longer had to guard his heart it was an uncomfortable moment for anyone who tries to be good.

You may not have noticed but your heart did.

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