Tag Archives: Disney Marvel Universe

Getting It Right (1)

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Credit: Disney Marvel

I have mentioned in a post series titled Recovering Ideals (under the category of Graphic Mythology – black strip on the left) how my friends and I emulated Superman in our play. While looking at some recent talk show videos on Youtube, I really began to understand how important it was for the black community to have the same thing. I saw children and adults alike beaming, proud, and geeky about Black Panther (2018 Disney Marvel, directed by Ryan Coogler) and the fact that it was even made, and it occurred to me that this was very healthy. The Disney Marvel universe has already incorporated positive images of black heroes and superheroes in its films. Take, for example, the following: Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Anthony Mackie as Falcon, and Idris Elba as Heimdall. But this is the first time we have seen a superhero movie whose primary character is black, whose cast is predominantly black, and whose director is black (not to mention many other production personnel). This makes Black Panther an important pop cultural property for the black community, regardless of who owns the film rights.

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Was the movie historically accurate or revisionist? Were its portrayals realistic and plausible? Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. I don’t see accuracy and realism as the purpose of fantasy. It’s about idealism, and the movie delivers on this score. An artistic product which has widespread appeal and which makes positive portrayals of an often stereotyped culture is invaluable, and the same can be said for role-modeling. I keep reminding myself that a majority of blacks in this country, including some people whom I count as friends, are descended from ancestors who did not come here of there own volition. Being white, I know I cannot fully appreciate what effects that has had, and I am reminded of various people and events from history.

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When Jack Johnson was boxing his way through a series of great white hopes, black communities all across America were celebrating. This man, despite his flaws, was shattering the lie of white supremacy.

Jesse Owens Medal
FILE — In this Aug. 14, 1936, file photo, Jesse Owens competes in one of the heats of the 200-meter run at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. One of the four Olympic gold medals won by Owens at the 1936 Berlin Games is for sale in an online auction that runs from through Dec. 7. (AP Photo/File)

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Jesse Owens did the same thing at the Berlin Olympics in 1936, prompting Hitler to leave the stadium. I was touched by the fact that Owens was befriended by a German rival.

Jesse Owens (center left) and Bill Garrett (center right)


 On a somewhat more personal note, I have previously included the names of Bill Garrett, who broke the color barrier in Big Ten basketball, and Dr. James Roberson, who placed fourth in the Olympic decathlon trials and who was one of only a few blacks admitted to the Indiana University Medical School upon graduating from college. Both of these men were friends of my father from his days at Indiana University. Dr. Roberson’s family  slept in our home, and we  slept in theirs. I have mentioned this in a previous post, Breaking The Color Barrier, under my Graphic Mythology category (black strip on the left).

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Now the Black Panther has been added to the modern pantheon, so … “Long live the king.” Role models, both real and fictional, are important. They were important to me as a child. They are important to me as an adult. As I have aged, I have grown to realize how much I took this for granted and how some demographic groups have felt under-represented.  There have been two recent films which I felt the producers really had to get right. One was Wonder Woman. The other was Black Panther. Okay, I know I should actually get around to reviewing the latter, so I will return to this topic next week.

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Modern Pantheon: A Commandment Of Sorts


Before you go to see Thor: Ragnarok, the next addition to the Disney Marvel Universe…


… read The Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson.



Ah-ah… no backtalk…


Just do it.


Semi-seriously, watching some of the trailer material reminded me of The Prose Edda. If you want to know more of the original Norse mythology (including Asgard and Ragnarok), if you want to become more familiar with Thor, Loki, Hel, and other members of the Norse pantheon, it might be helpful to struggle through the abstractions of this older document. It’s actually fairly easy to read, considering its age.


Don’t expect the immediate gratification of a Marvel Studios movie or a Marvel comic, but the book could put you in a more receptive mood to appreciate the liberties which are sure to be taken by the movie. Reinvention can be more fun when compared to the original.


Photo Credits: Disney Marvel.

Ancient To Modern: The Strong Man (3)

These next three characters have their origins in science fiction rather than mythology. One thing they all have in common is inhuman strength.


An alien refugee from the destroyed planet Krypton, Kal-El does really well in earth’s atmosphere and under earth’s sun. His secret identity in which he masquerades as an earthling is that of Clark Kent. He is so familiar that I need not list all of his powers. Instead of discussing the evolution of this character from DC Comics, I’ll cut straight to these images by Alex Ross, my favorite artist in the superhero genre.



There is no more iconic character in the history of comics.

The Hulk

I appreciate this character from Marvel Comics because he is a metaphor for what lurks in all of us. As the result of a gamma ray explosion, there is a link between his physical and emotional states.

Credit: Alex Ross and Marvel Comics
Credit: Alex Ross and Marvel Comics

Most notably, stress and rage transform slight, mild Robert Bruce Banner into a huge, green monster. The more upset he gets, the stronger he gets.

Credit: Alex Ross and Marvel Comics
Credit: Alex Ross and Marvel Comics

Have you ever taken a good look at yourself when you’re mad? Probably not, because you probably can’t. You feel like you’re in control when you’re not, and you typically regret your actions later. This gets back to my view of the Hulk as a metaphor for the human condition. We all consider ourselves to be better people than we are. I wonder how often the difference between us and those we think of as evil can be attributed to whether or not opportunity, trauma, and a host of other circumstances has pushed us to extremes that unleash the beast. Weigh in if you wish, I deliberately just dropped a bomb. If you agree with me, you may metaphorically add your signature to the illustration below.

Credit: Alex Ross and Marvel Comics
Credit: Alex Ross and Marvel Comics

Oh, and I really like the way he is portrayed by Mark Ruffalo in the Disney Marvel Universe.

Credit: Disney Marvel
Credit: Disney Marvel

The Thing

Benjamin Jacob Grimm was transformed into the Thing when an inadequately-shield vessel was bombarded with cosmic radiation during a space flight.  Other members of his crew became the rest of the Fantastic Four in the same incident.

Credit: Alex Ross and Marvel Comics
Credit: Alex Ross and Marvel Comics

Unlike Banner, his condition doesn’t depend on his emotions.

Credit: Alex Ross and Marvel Comics
Credit: Alex Ross and Marvel Comics

That’s enough said. Here is one more piece of eye candy from Alex Ross since he’s making this post look so good. His visuals transform any story, and that’s his superpower.

Credit: Alex Ross and Marvel Comics
Credit: Alex Ross and Marvel Comics

I’ll call it here. The strong man has been a cultural icon throughout history in various parts of the globe. Perhaps this is because of our desire to be able to protect ourselves, to take matters into our own hands. I think often of this in relation to Christianity and its doctrine which stresses the need for internal control from the hand of a higher source. In that light, I wonder if the trend of making female superheroes stronger and angrier might not be hiding other approaches which have escaped consideration because of all the cultural noise. After all, I don’t think rage and swagger look good on anybody.