The Infinity saga (phases 1 through 3) of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is amazing because it consists of over twenty movies and even more stories that led to the war against the mad Titan, Thanos. Marvel movies made comic book stories accessible to those of us unwilling to read comics. Many of those comic book movies tackled real-life issues to which many Americans can easily relate.
Below are some Marvel films and television series that Black parents could watch with their children to initiate conversations about Black adulthood.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) - Critical Thinking
Hydra was the parasitic group within S.H.I.E.L.D, orchestrating wars to scare sheepish people into surrendering their freedom for police-state "security." They killed thousands of innocent people pursuing that goal. Digitized Arnim Zola explained it all to Captain America and Black Widow in under five minutes. There is a reason for everything. The reason so many people died in historic wars in the MCU was often for power, specifically population control. That problem isn't much different from the world we live in. Quick examples:
- Pushing medicines, supplements, and body acceptance (normalizing obesity) instead of eating healthier and regular exercise
- Fear mongering about gun bans to support giving the US government more power instead of focusing on the causes of suicide (the largest cause of gun violence)
- Debt with interest
Zola gave that exposition to Cap and Widow to buy time for the missile strike. The pair knew too much, a given since they found the secret location. They were obviously planning to stop the attempt at a new world order. They had the resources and knowledge to act on it. And Hydra knew that. Therefore, assassination with a cover-up was the go-to move. Also not unlike many unsolved mysteries we've experienced over the years.
Why didn't the media cover how the king of pop, Michael Jackson, owned a lot of Sony before his death? Why don't you hear people talk about how Martin Luther King Jr. fought for reparations, in general or on his day?
The "why" builds greater understanding for someone to navigate situations that have a looming gray area. In life, many situations can fit that description if you think deep enough about it. Kids need to learn that it is okay to ask "why" in a tactful manner, something that unfortunately many grade schools and adults in general don't embrace well. In some cases, the answer might be due to racism. Assuming they retain the answers, Black kids will be able to grow and mature at a better rate as they build on that knowledge. They'll more likely act on the fact that all actions have consequences, legal and moral, external and internal.
Most gun deaths in the US are suicide by handguns. That's a different topic. Here, I want to stress the fact that better parenting and mentoring the youth is something we as common folk can do to mitigate gun violence. Teach them to respect themselves and each other. Teach them how to talk things out and/or just walk away instead of fronting for street cred, only to end up road-kill for petty nonsense.
Somewhat unrelated, kids need to understand that not all White people are white supremacists. Cap didn't mention race when he first met Sam. Racists will create a reason to justify their hatred. But the goal is understand the different aspects of racism against Blacks and how to overcome those obstacles instead of immediately choosing violence.
Black Panther - Black Dollars
I listed Black Panther here and on my first "Movies to Make You Think" listacle because of the authentic inspirations from African culture on costumes and props throughout the movie. And the movie broke ticket sales records. That's great for Disney, a corporation I've never heard take a strong stance to support the Black community.
I wonder how many Black folks who flooded theaters to see this movie can say they financially support Black owned businesses and Black Entrepreneurs. I doubt it would be a high percentage, though I had an easy time explaining reasons why you should. I haven't found data to substantiate the popular claim that a dollar only circulates six hours in the African American community, but I'm sure its not too far off.
Support KweliTV streaming like you support Disney+, Hulu, and Netflix. See Black women doing great things instead of showing skin and being baby-mamas. In the future, we might get a cinematic universe for RippaVerse, a Black owned comic book company. Their notable mission: focus more on a great story than virtue signaling, "wokeness", etc.
I've found dozens of Black owned businesses with beautiful apparel and accessories. Among them, I've found a few Black-owned clothing brands with obvious African-inspired apparel - dashikis included. Supporting such businesses serves as a productive solution to the debate about cultural appropriation and white-washing. Support our own, the origin, to negate the use of people doing it at all. Want a classic appropriation example? The real Betty Boop - Black singer Esther Jones. Doesn't it make more sense now when you keep in mind the black hair?
Avengers: Infinity War - Strength in Numbers
I added this MCU entry to my second "Movies to Make You Think" post. Avengers: Infinity War shows what is possible when people put their differences aside, effectively communicate, and work together toward a greater goal. A functional team requires compromise, selflessness, and an established goal to start.
The story also shows how one spontaneous, emotionally charged action can quickly wreck havoc on so many lives for years. I maintain that:
- Evil is usually better organized than the good and indifferent
- Everyone's actions affects everyone and waiting until something affects you directly can be costly
I remember when the "Black Lives Matter" (BLM) movement caught traction and Colin Kaepernick started a trend of kneeling during the National Anthem. The conversation was ignited (again) and there were protests. Then there were riots, staged or not, that destroyed the credibility of the protests. Then a BLM chapter leader in a fly-over state announced that Blacks should kill Whites. Not helpful. I understand the popular play to say outlandish stuff for shock value to maintain media attention for your cause. Feminists call us "economic men" and worthless for the same reason. I don't think it helped Blacks nearly as much. The 2021 claims of a BLM co-founder buying million-dollar homes with donations only made white supremacists who like to argue that BLM riots, anti-white slander, and gang violence are the best representation of Blacks.
The American Descendants of Slavery (ADOS) movement for reparations has been strong. At the hub of the initiative, ADOS Advocacy Foundation is doing it the right way for our day and age:
- Straight-forward and clearly communicated mission
- Active on social media platforms
- Concise in their defense against influencers trying to discredit their purpose, data sources, and affiliation with others
Focus on the bigger goal - building the Black community.
The Falcon and The Winter Soldier - Blind Trust
This is the only entry on this list from the Multiverse Saga (phase 4). In episode two, Bucky takes Sam Wilson (Falcon) to meet Isaiah Bradley, the first Captain America, a now elder gentleman. During the meet, Bradley educates the disgruntled duo on how he was rewarded for rescuing his men (also super soldiers) who were captured during the war. In short, he was imprisoned and experimented on to figure out why only he'd survived the serum, including the comrades he'd rescued. He was hushed and omitted from history until the end of the series.
This has some glaring similarities with our reality. The most recent one is the conversation about who should get the COVID-19 vaccination and how often. There are a lot of reports of people dying from a COVID vaccine. Johnson & Johnson, Maderna, or Pfizer, didn't matter. But social media platforms made it extremely difficult to have an honest discussion about it, especially if you had influence in a community.
The Tuskegee Syphilis experiment in 1932 has more in common with the Bradley character. The US government and the Tuskegee HBCU recruited 500+ Black men with and without Syphilis for a clinical study with the promise of free medical care. Problem: the patients with the disease weren't told they had it. They were being "observed" and left untreated for how they respond to the disease. Most of those patients (victims) died from the disease or related complications. The story was told in the movie Miss Evers' Boys (1997), and it is infuriating.
Everything After Spider-Man: No Way Home - "Toxic Masculinity"
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Wandavision...
That movie is why I agree with the "M-She-U" argument that each MCU releases are aggressively pushing females as superior to their male counterparts. The second Dr. Strange felt like a bait-and-switch. I watched it to see Strange things. Instead, I got a poorly written WandaVision finale through Strange's perspective with him regressing as an intelligent magician and a sprinkle of America Chavez's origin story. Superb acting, visuals, and introduction to alternate Steven Strange's, though.
Thor: Love and Thunder (2022) was apparently the same thing. The most common complaints about the Waititi film was that Thor was downgraded to dumb, heart-broken sidekick for comic relief. Meanwhile, Jane Foster's story is given enough depth (at least in the theater version) for viewers to actually care about your circumstances. Both of these movies had an ending that basically the villain realized they were the bad guy and abruptly decided to do the right thing. Meh.
The point is that male characters are being emasculated to push female characters as strong leaders. This happened in Hawkeye (Kate Bishop) and Loki (Sylvie). Marvel and/or Disney are indoctrinating kids to believe that men are not intelligent, competent leaders. It is another mainstream avenue for redefining what it means to be masculine. This is serious.
Black males have been fed destructive definitions of Black masculinity for decades and can be aggressively protective of withholding that image. Now, its being compounded with this idea of "toxic masculinity" to exert this notion that females are superior, without flaw, above above accountability. Dr. Hasan Johnson goes deeper in the topic.
Thanks for reading.