Pop Quiz: Name a movie with characters who could have only been created in America. Answer: The Avengers.

There’s a new Avengers trailer out, and as momentum builds towards its release it’s probably a good idea to discuss what makes this particular team of superheroes so fascinating to its fans. The director, Joss Whedon, has accurately identified and attempted to address one of the core creative challenges for the project: the team’s diversity.

Reporter: I imagine the other hard part about that is balancing a god and who can create lightning, and a guy with a bow and arrow, and giving them both the action that brings out the best in them.

Whedon: Yeah. Well, I feel like we pulled that off. At the end of the day, the guy with the bow and arrow is a lot easier to write gags for than the god. But we created a situation where everybody can be useful, and everybody can be in jeopardy, and they really can act as a team, even though — as we have known from the first issue of ‘The Avengers’ comic — there’s no reason for these people to be on the same team (emphasis added).

Just as the American Experiment wrestles over how to deal with its diversity (How the heck do all these different people with different heritages and temperaments come together into a cohesive force for good in the world?), The Avengers must do the same. Americans come together because the country is founded on an idea—that free men are granted inalienable rights by their Creator—and that governments, deriving their powers from the consent of the governed, have a duty to uphold those rights. The Avengers come together because there are some problems that require anyone with an ounce of honor to put aside their ego and do the right thing.

The Avengers are also great because they are very “American”:

  • Captain America: The ideal solider and a boy scout with the strength of 100 men (yet very much an individual)
  • Iron Man: Entrepreneurial, highly individualistic, successful and smart without ever apologizing for it
  • Hulk: A force whose only desire is to help and heal, but who nonetheless has awesome power to destroy when angered
  • Thor: A man (or should we say country?) with godlike power, who must have humility before realizing his true potential
  • Hawkeye: He’s brash and cocky, but he always hits his mark
  • Black Widow: The Russian spy who defects to America (i.e., the immigrant who leaves oppression for freedom)

Notice a trend? All very distinct personalities. All from very different backgrounds. All very individualistic. And yet, they come together for a common purpose. The Avengers is a comic book that could not have been created in Communist China, Islamic police states across the Middle East, or countries on cultural life support throughout most, if not all, of Europe.

So this summer, take joy in a creative endeavor with a cast of characters only America could have produced.

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