Tag Archives: Joss Whedon

In 2015, watch how I soar #whedony #Firefly

For several years now I have made it a yearly habit to make a quote from Joss Whedon’s Firefly my motto for the year. One year it was Jayne Cobb’s “Hey, let’s be bad guys,” another it was Malcolm Reynolds’ “I aim to misbehave,” and last year it was “I can kill you with my mind,” courtesy of River Tam. After a little debate, I decided to go with “I’m a leaf on the wind, watch how I soar”- Hoban Washburne. If you’re not a Browncoat, I am not going to ruin the scene for you but I will say that in 2015, I want to take risks. I do not know if I will be successful or not, but I sure will try. Everyone in my social network is choosing one word to describe their 2015 or what they want to define it, and mine will be: soar.

So from all of us at the PJ collective, HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Marvel's #Avengers, Religion and Gender #whedony

Maria Hill

“You have the Blue Stick of Destiny.”

The world of comic books and the world of religion, which in my own personal context, is Christianity, have a lot of similarities. You have your political ideologues: Hawkman, he’s a conservative, and Green Arrow (yuck!) he’s a progressive liberal; Superman, according to The Optymyst, he’s moderate (I think that’s b.s., but I digress). In “The Church,” we have our conservative Bibles and books (the English Standard Version and almost every book sold at LifeWay Christian stores) as well as our “liberal” Bibles: the highly accurate 😉 New Revised Standard Version that’s seen as more gender-inclusive, and most books sold at Cokesbury stores.

When it comes to comic book movies, this gender bias is even more apparent. Last year, as we all know from the Optymyst’s review of it, DC Comics rebooted its comic book universe with the new 52, but working with Nielson, they acknowledged that this reboot ignored women comic book fans (see the post linked) for more details. AMC has even started a t.v. series, Comic Book Men, but it should really be titled Comic Book White Men.

One of things I was well aware of with Joss Whedon writing the story for Marvel’s The Avengers movie was the manly man image of the four characters, the Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America. In all five of the previous Avengers’ movies leading up to this one where they are actually a team, women are nothing more than mascots, serving as the girlfriends or damsels in distress (Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger). Both times as I watched Avengers in theatres, it was fun to see how Whedon negotiated his preference for strong female kick-a$% protagonists (ala Buffy from Buffy the Vampire Slayer as well as River Tam of Firefly). Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill and Scarlett Johanson as Natasha Romanov (aka Black Widow) were the typical Whedonesque strong women fighters I expected them to be. However, also Joss Whedon’s interpretation of Iron Man/Tony Stark played by Robert Downey Jr., as well as Captain America/Steve Rogers, portrayed by Chris Evans were equally provocative gender-wise, especially as it pertains to humor.  Tony Stark mocks Loki when L tries to use the alien scythe to make Stark into his personal zombie with the comment, “Performance issues are natural,” as a way of demasculinizing our foe.

The most powerful image in favor of gender equality were the screen shots of the general population of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents; in order to compensate for the four super manly men soldiers on the big screen, Joss went in the direction of representation wherever he could, and I think it works.  Unlike the comic book industry or the church, Joss knows that most of the most active participants in the Whedonite community are women.

Perhaps DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Christianity, and other religions would do well to follow Whedon’s lead and see to it that more women are placed in leadership positions.

“Ma’am. There’s only One God, and he does not dress like that!”


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#Avengers, Religion, and Race #whedony

Nick Fury in the alternate-universe imprint Ul...


I have often talked about the racial stereotype of the Angry Black Man, that monster black intellectuals like President Obama and Tiger Woods have tried to avoid. For many the Angry Black Man stereotype is linked forever to violence like the Los Angeles Riots in the 1990’s and gangsta rap; black men who get angry are considered a danger to the well being of society, bringers of chaos to the world order. We don’t have to go very far to see how black athletes tread the line between being passionate and wanting a friendly image. I recall a couple of years ago I presented what seemed to be from one outsider’s perspective an angry call to vengeance-filled bloody revolution because I presented on the theologies of Denmark Vesey and John Calvin, and what they meant for educating the public. Because my body has a dark brown skin tone and because I demonstrated a knowledge of my subject matter this one critic had not heard of, he assumed I was being angry Black Man and told me so, even questioning my pacifism.

Of course, anyone with good sense towards critical thinking would veer in the direction of knowing how the logic of violence and anger works and then work to understand how to cope with that rage. My rage was against institutional racism and white supremacy, things my interlocutor refuses to understand inspite of his “liberal” education.

As I was watching Marvel’s The Avengers, I observed very closely how Mark Ruffalo’s HULK was racially Othered. In fact, Bruce Banner explains to Tony Stark that he does not have a uniform or weaponized suit, but only himself, “like a nerve” he is exposed. The double-consciousness of Bruce Banner problematizes the rhetoric of freedom throughout the movie. Like W.E.B. DuBois years ago, Banner has two selves warring at each other. This is what DuBois said what it was like to be black in the United States, our histories as sufferers of enslavement struggling with the quest to become citizens in the land of the not-yet-free but always brave. The racial marginalization is further realized in the context of Nick Fury’s and S.H.I.E.L.D.’s xenophobia. One random janitor in a building Hulk has demolished asks him, “You an alien?,” which Bruce Banner exposed (literally- no clothes) quickly responds, shaking his head, “No.” When I hear this question being asked, I think about the people who currently have to hear this question, perhaps a Latino/a in Arizona who has lived here all of her life, but is subjected to questionings about her citizenship because of the color of her skin and the fact of her bilingualism.

Perhaps the Avengers can teach the Church that the raging racial minorities are needed, the iconoclasts that they are, leaving destruction in their wake. Surely temples will fall, but in Christian theology, with the fall of temples, there is Resurrection, and New Creation.

“The Lord watches over the strangers;
he upholds the orphan and the widow,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.”

Psalm 146:9

Speaking of widows, where does this leave the Natasha Romanoffs/The Black Widows and Agent Maria Hills in the church? More to come on Gender and The Avengers. I promise.

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