Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Ms. Marvel's Roguish Treatment, Finale

Ms. Marvel, like many other trendy comic characters, could have simply disappeared forever if Chris Claremont had not been so incensed with how she was handled in Avengers 200.

Carol A. Strickland wrote an eviscerating article that spat at the "rape culture" and trivialization of women she felt she witnessed in that story.

The irony is, when I read it, as a boy, I smelled a weird story - I could see they were just booting her out, she changed too fast at the end - but I did not think it was to rape her, molest her, destroy her or even treat her as some love doll.

It sounded too much like a funky Madonna story. I mean, Mary, mother of Jesus, Madonna, not the singer. She was pregnant supernaturally, right?

It had sort of Cinderella/Sleeping Beauty overtones - 'cause she's leaving with a man who risked everything he was to find her. They are supposed to go live "happily ever after" - and even say those exact words.

But now that I am an adult, would I write such a tale - and let our heroine go after a 60-second confession from a man-child supergenius on the basis of her feelings?

Oh Hail No.

But by addressing that foolish action - or inaction - of the Avengers, Chris Claremont actually ups the anty and does the REAL damage to her that ends up taking her powers and nearly her life. He has the blame landing on the Avengers and in fact, it is NOT the Avengers fault they let her go. Well, not all of them.

You see, when Carol says she's going with Marcus, there is only Thor, Iron Man and Hawkeye present.

That means a Thunder God, an alcoholic millionaire and a hot-head.

Hawkeye just blew up the only device that would've saved the day. He's in self-recrimination mode. He's not going to do anything unless he needs to.

Thor on the hand, is power-in-abeyance; he can access other dimensions or kill Marcus in one hit and so he takes a court bailiff's approach to the entire affair. "Let the mortals decide" is probably his mindset.

The only one really thinking - and even though he just found out her secret identity that day, he takes a real interest in hearing what she has to say - is the alcoholic millionaire Tony Stark, i.e. Iron Man.

And he doesn't think it is a good idea. He asks her directly if she wants to do this. He doesn't like it. [He's also wearing armor, so if our theory [or my theory anyway] about Marcus using Emotion Control via pheremones or something biochemical is correct, then it makes pretty decent sense he'd have a fighting chance to be clear-headed and save the day.

But then he does the worst thing a man can do when a woman is being led by her emotions: he listens to her

He does not judge her. He does not disagree with her. "That is JUST what we want!" says a lady reading this. "Men who listen without judging! Men who do not disagree with us! Men who hear our HEART!"

You don't want a man, honey. You want a dog.

Seriously, you don't want a man, not a real one. You don't want someone who challenges you. You don't want someone who leads, either.

This is a problem Iron Man has had often. Even Wanda busted him on it on one occasion, for lack of team leadership.

Iron Man failed Carol Danvers, not the Avengers by not doing his job.

You see, the worst thing a leader can do is allow foolish and unwise behavior to continue in a group.

To lead you must stand firm, stay on goal, be protective of your team, be proactive and never stop judging what is right and what is wrong.

Iron Man failed on each one of those. 

One last slam, and I am done. You know that common phrase, uttered in films all over our nation: "Follow your heart!" "Listen to your feelings, Luke!" etc.?

No. Your heart is deceitful. Your heart is a like a magnet in a world full of pig iron.

Your heart can really, truly deceive you. You must hear it without listening to it.

You see, your feelings are like a temperature gauge; they tell you when something is not right, but they are useless as a compass. Never trust your feelings, just know them. Know when you are angry, or sad, or confused - that's wise.

But to just follow your feelings as if they will lead you the right way?

Don't be stupid. "Stupid is as stupid does." You decide how to move, to act.

Iron Man, a.k.a., Tony Stark, did something really stupid. He let Carol Danvers go with the son of a known enemy after meeting him for a few seconds. He listened to her make an emotional decision that was missing all kinds of checkpoints.

To his credit, he did speak up - but he should have stepped up.

I know, I'm driving you crazy, right? First, I say Iron Man spoke up and so the Avengers were not as much at fault as we think. Now I am laying the blame on his shoulders.

Well, yeah. A quote attributed to Edmund Burke says "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for enough good people to do nothing."

Three Avengers let Carol go. One was the leader.

He failed in his job. He thought he was being kind to Carol when he wasn't. He thought he was letting her go of her own free will, but she wasn't free.

If I could re-write that scene or just do an alternate time-line story, like "What If...Carol Danvers Had Not Left the Avengers?" it would have this dialogue:

IM: "Wha..? Ms. Marvel, are you sure?"
MM: "I think so, Iron Man. [et cetera].."
IM: "...no. No, Ms. Marvel, I don't think so. I'm not certain this is all in order. Before I let you go, we need to make sure it's safe. We'll get Marcus back to Limbo, and Thor here will make sure we know his location. You can join him -- after we verify everything and it all checks out."
MM: "Hey! You can't stop me! If I want to go..."
IM: "Ms. Marvel, as leader of the Avengers, I CAN stop you and I WILL. Thor - take Marcus out of here - Valhalla, Jotunheim, I don't care..." [Thor complies, and Marcus cries out his undying love for her as he is whisked away by the power of Mjolnir]

IM: "I've been called worse. Now, are you going to listen to reason or.."

[Insert Knock-Down Drag Out Fight where Ms. Marvel nearly kills Iron Man, ends up being stopped by the Scarlet Witch and the Vision. Wanda: "Carol! This is not LOVE! This is HATE!" Vision [grabs Carol's arms using his ultimate density]: "Indeed. Rarely have I seen such rage, unless it was truly from an outside force."]
Of course, like all "What If..?" stories, it would be shown that Carol, not losing her powers and not being Binary  - and Rogue, never finding the danger of her powers - both lose out terribly. And this moment of salvation kept the Avengers from failing, yes - but they also did not get the humility smack they needed either.

Still, would love to see that scene, wouldn't you?


I'm going to end these three blogposts on the Roguish Treatment of Ms. Marvel with a scripture verse. You thought you were going to get off the hook, didn't you? Well, I learn from my own writing, and as I have also taken a lot of emotional hits lately, I need this as much as you do.
Romans 8:28 [NKJV]
28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Somethings in our lives are unavoidably horrible.

They are evil, and we wish they had never ever happened.

But if you know God and love Him, He can take that evil thing and use it for something good. It will not simply destroy you; it will become a lesson, a drive, a mission, an understanding that you get to use again and again to serve others.

It is the very essence of Batman's origin. It became part of Ms. Marvel's origin.

It became the shame of the Avengers  - and they never forgot it. They used it. They got wise from it. Later, Ms. Marvel did return to the Avengers - and had a personal problem they addressed wisely and respectfully.

I hate failing. I friggin' hate it.

But it is where I failed I learned the most. I even hate admitting that, but I am so cautious and protective, I learn less than I should. It takes failure and being out of control to show me where I need to change.

In the end, the story of Ms. Marvel works out. I have some suspicion that it was as important as the death of Gwen Stacey in Spider-man to bring us more nuanced, more realistic, less 'perfect' characters.

And the lesson has been learned in pop fiction, by the way. For no one will be able to convince me that not a single creative working on Disney's Frozen knew the fate of Ms. Marvel in Avengers 200 & Annual 10:

Ladies - there are no perfect men.

Except Jesus.


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