Disclaimer: The following blog was written largely because I have a major celebri-crush on Chris Hemsworth. Thank you for indulging me.
Since seeing Avengers: Age of Ultron a week ago, I’ve been experiencing a mild obsession with the Marvel Universe. I’ve never been a comics geek, but I think maybe I’m quickly becoming one. I’ve been a Star Trek nerd since grade school, so it’s just the next logical step, really.
I’ve come to realize that one of the reasons people love the Avengers so much – both the movies and the comics – is that the characters all have pretty challenging back stories, yet they’ve managed to overcome their pasts and reinvent themselves as superheroes. I mean. Black Widow was trained as a kid to be a professional killer. Captain America had a major inferiority complex. The Hulk – anger management, obviously. Thor had to learn to take his hubris down a notch or two. Hawkeye had a pretty unusual childhood as an oprhan growing up in a circus. And Iron Man had some daddy issues that, in my humble opinion, led to his narcissism, which is probably hiding the fact that he never felt like he was good enough for old Howard Stark. Plus, now there’s Scarlet Witch, who endured genetic testing/being a mutant with a mom who dies young and an absent dad, pick your back story (although if the movies follow the plot of the comics, Scarlet Witch’s triumph over adversity will only be temporary). And then there’s the Vision, an android whose whole creation is kinda messed up.
So with that in mind, here are a few lessons from the movie that we could all stand to take to heart.
Don’t let fear make your decisions
Okay, spoiler alert folks. There’s a scene in the movie where Hawkeye finds Scarlet Witch cowering in a mostly destroyed building while Ultron’s robot army is basically killing everyone in sight. It’s a critical moment for her – she’s deciding if she wants to play it safe and hide or pick herself up and fight. Hawkeye says to her, “[If you] stay in here, you’re good. I’ll send your brother to come find you. But if you step out that door, you are an Avenger.” Man, ya gotta love good melodrama.
A beat later, SW is outside kicking robot ass, and by the end of the movie, she’s a full-fledged Avengers inductee. It really is true that when we make decisions based on fear – when the avoidance of any potential pain is our guiding motivation – we make ourselves and our lives smaller. But when we take risks and strive to reach our fullest potential, we can experience amazing things we never would have imagined.
Stick with the ones who stick with you
At another point, the Hulk goes on a very dramatic rampage in the middle of the New York City – there are news crews present and everything. So the public clearly witnesses the extent of how violent he can be. Eventually, Iron Man has to remove him from the scene. But the Avengers make it clear that, despite the incident, they’ve got the Hulk’s big, green back. In particular, Black Widow’s feelings for him clearly aren’t diminished by the events. The lesson being this – we all have dark nights of the soul, but that’s okay. We don’t need to hide how we’re feeling from the people who care about us, because the ones who love us will show up (and if they don’t, that’s on them, not us). Pretending everything is okay when it’s not only puts distance between ourselves and the people we love.
Learn from your mistakes
Ah, personal growth 101. SW and her twin brother Quicksilver start off the movie as allies of Ultron, eager to take a bite out of Iron Man. They hold him responsible for the deaths of their parents, who were killed by weapons developed by Iron Man’s company, Stark Industries. But as events unfold, they come to realize that they’ve made a major error in judgment (um, to put it lightly) by teaming up with Ultron, and switch allegiances, fighting instead with the Avengers.
So, don’t beat yourself up when you make a mistake. Don’t be consumed by regret over the things in your past that, looking back, you’d do differently. All of our missteps have something to teach us, and that’s a crucial part of growing into your most authentic self.
Have patience with your process
In the earlier Iron Man movies, Tony Stark (the man inside the suit) has to come to terms with his narcissism. It’s arguably in part arrogance that gets him abducted in Iraq. Hubris that allows him to believe he’s the only one with the skill to build an Iron Man suit. And ego that leads him to drunkenly wreck his own home during his birthday party. But he always seems to get it together, and even allows himself to be vulnerable enough to demonstrate to Pepper Potts, his assistant, that he loves her.
Yet in Ultron, he’s still plagued by hubris – which is largely what gets the gang in trouble in the first place. He thinks he can singlehandedly save the world by creating Ultron, a robot who unexpectedly turns out to be sentient and murderous. Tony has come a long way from the self-absorbed playboy we see in the early scenes of the first movie, but he’s still working on this issue. And that’s okay! We all have challenges and soul lessons we need to learn in life, and they’re a major part of each of our journeys. We don’t have to learn these lessons overnight – we just need to do the best we can, and keep taking the next right step.
And there you have it! Everything you need to know in life, you can learn from superheroes