“No, how could you be worthy? You’re all killers.” — Ultron
Ultron was right. The Avengers are a bunch of killers, murders, and no one seems to care. If there’s a hint of conscience among them, it’s well hidden. One could make the case that Natasha (Black Widow) was remorseful about the red in her ledger. But she never developed any disregard for killing, as long as her justification was sufficient.
In Mark Gruenwald’s almost ten-year run writing Captain America in the comics, Captain America refused to kill except when absolutely necessary. The writers before and after him didn’t abide by that theory. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), Cap was a killing machine, never giving it a thought. He got started on Nazi’s and never looked back.
Hawkeye and Black Widow, “a couple of master assassins,” according to Tony Stark. Black Widow first killed for her country and then for hire. She has a special skill set which she never hesitated to use. Hawkeye damn near killed Natasha at the behest of S.H.I.E.L.D., until he made a different call, recruiting a fellow killer to his team.
The late Iron Man got his start as a weapons manufacturer, creating weapons of mass destruction that killed soldiers and civilians alike. His body count is likely the second highest of all the Avengers, but only because Thor has been at it for over 1,000 years and had nine realms from which to choose victims. With the help of his hammer Mjolner, “the gates of Hel are filled with the screams of his victims.” With Thor’s new ax “Stormbreaker,” Hel may need to open up a new wing.
You could make the case that The Hulk would never contemplate taking a life except during those times when he lost control. The newest version, Professor Hulk is now a big green teddy bear that wouldn’t hurt a fly, that wasn’t already trying to kill him or his friends.
What is my point? With Avengers: Endgame closing in as the highest grossing film of all time, possibly surpassing Avatar. What lessons are being learned about the value of life? Our heroes are killers. Coming soon to a theater near you in 2019; John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum, Gemini Man with Will Smith playing an elite assassin, Joker, Child’s Play featuring the return of Chucky, and Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile based on serial killer Ted Bundy. Are we glorifying violence and murder enough? We just saw Thanos kill half the universe in Infinity War. Someone is bound to want to top that, and audiences worldwide are eating it all up.
Eight students were shot today at a school in Colorado. Schools and businesses practice and train for active shooters. We have become so inoculated against violent death that we glorify those that are the best at administering it, we call them superheroes. Even your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man now has, “Instant Kill Mode.” This was allegedly Peter’s least favorite feature, but as we saw in Endgame, he got over it.
That there is a thirst for death and violence in entertainment is obvious. It’s hard to imagine that there’s no real-world influence resulting. Is there no reward any longer for weaving a magical tale? Or is body count and revenue the only measure. Something to think about.