The Marvel movies are so good because they all have a common theme, family.
The movies raise questions about family and answers those same questions, not merely with words, but with demonstrations and examples. Movies visually capture what we feel. Their power resides in the way that they bypass our thoughts and lay bare the hidden things in our hearts.
The images evoke passion, they expose painful experiences too powerful for words, they cheer us, and at times catch us unaware. They remind us of that sacrifice is implied within the concept of love and the very best ones stir hope and remind us of the good. I am not suggesting that the Marvel movies are a homage to the family. I am suggesting that at spots the writers masterfully captured what is true, best, and good about families.
Father and son
Take for example the question, what is a father? In Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2, the script writers juxtapose two figures, the celestial Ego and Yondu. Ego’s resemblance to Quill is unmistakable. He is everything Quill could have imagined his father to be. Powerful. So rich that he has his own world. He captures Quill’s heart with his lavish gifts and ability to meet Quill’s longing. Yondu is exactly the opposite, he is hard on Quill, threatens him, and shapes his character often in ways that Quill is not happy about. He was supposed to deliver Quill to his father but chose to raise him instead. Yondu and Quill have a love/hate relationship. We sense that Yondu has a soft spot for Quill, but we are not sure of it until the final scene of the movie when Ego’s real character is revealed; he wants to use Quill. Yondu sacrifices everything to save Quill saying these words,
“He may have been your father boy, but he wasn’t your daddy.”
At that very moment, Quill realizes that Yondu was his father. How many young men have wrestled with a stepdad who may not have been ideal but in every way was more of a father to them than their real dad?
Mother and son
Another example is Thor seeing his mother in the past in the movie Avengers: Endgame. This scene answers the question, “how does a mother, mother her failing adult son?” In my opinion, this is the best parent-child scene in a movie that I have ever seen. Thor, on a task to save the world, goes back into the past and runs into his mother. He is in bad shape mentally and physically. His mother knows her son. She does not berate him for his current state (she doesn’t let him off the hook either) but sensing the moment she gives him exactly what he needs: advice, words of encouragement, and she reminds him of who he is.
From that point on, we no longer have a depressed Thor wallowing in self-pity. For those of us who are steeped in Norse Mythology, we have the Thor that we have always envisioned. This one is a little doughy, but he is as hardened and determined as we have seen him throughout the Marvel franchise.
Much more could be said. Tony Stark getting to meet his father and to hear about his trepidation of raising a son. Thanos trying to explain his plan to Gamora or Gamora’s shock when she realized that her father loved her. Loki’s ultimate sacrifice for Thor. Each of these deserves a paragraph and more explanation, but I suspect that like me, many of you have thought through some of these.
Here are some of my favorite scenes and themes from the Marvel franchise. The first two are my favorite, the rest appear in no particular order:
- The final scene with Quill and Yondu in Guardians of the Galaxy 2
- Thor and his mom in Endgame
- Groot’s sacrifice in Guardians of the Galaxy 1
- The sibling relationship between Black Widow and Hawkeye
- he relationship between Tony Stark and Peter Parker
- The betrayal theme between cousins Killmonger and T’challa
- The sibling rivalry between Iron Man and Captain America
- Thanos explaining his goals to his daughter Gamora
- Nebula saying of her father, “My Father does not lie.”
- T’challa’s respect for his elders
- Thor’s inexplicable brotherly love for Loki
- Loki’s ultimate sacrifice for Thor
- Ant Man’s love and sacrifice for his daughter
- The youthful energy and enthusiasm of Spiderman
- Iron Man’s sacrifice for people who have become his family (juxtapose his ultimate sacrifice with the argument that he and Captain America had in Avengers 1)
- Thanos’ approval of the relationship between Quill and Gamora
- Thor’s need to please his father Odin
- The brotherly relationship between Rocket and Groot
- Captain America being the big brother everyone wants
- Hulk punching Thor (That’s what you would do to your brother)
- Tony Stark’s relationship with his father
- The Guardians raising the younger Groot
- The Guardians bearing the burden of the Infinity Stone together