EVERY SINGLE PERSON WHO REBLOGS THIS WILL GET THE FOLLOWING IN THEIR INBOX.
- A BRIEF ORIGIN STORY
- A SUPERPOWER OR THREE, MAYBE FOUR DEPENDING
- A SUPERHERO OR VILLAIN NAME
- YOU MIGHT ALSO GET AN ARCHNEMESIS WHO HAS REBLOGGED THIS ALREADY
AND YES I MEAN EVERY SINGLE PERSON WHO REBLOGS THIS. UNTIL, SAY, AUGUST 2015. A FULL YEAR. LONG ENOUGH, RIGHT?
LET’S DO THIS THING.
Masculinity in the MCU is coded like, well, like Nick Fury. Being a masculine guy means that you have the power to stop the bad guys, whether with a gun like Coulson or with your smarts like Tony or by way of gamma radiation like Bruce Banner. It’s rare in most any media to have a male character like Fitz, who’s unapologetic about his love for Simmons, his apparent fear of guns, his lack of field knowledge. A character like Fitz would normally be the butt of a joke, not the acclaimed hero, and yet S.H.I.E.L.D. goes out of its way to prove that the Wards of the world don’t always have to be the ideal when it comes to masculinity. With Ward and Fitz, S.H.I.E.L.D. asks us to consider what a weak man truly acts like, and concludes that physical strength and mental stoicism are not always the mark of a strong man. Strength is compassion, and compassion is badass.
Sexualized Saturdays: Ward, Fitz, and S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Ideal of Masculinity (source)
Fitz isn’t the only subversive take on masculinity in the MCU, either. Think about it: almost all the male heroes have some sort of vulnerability, some moment of “weakness”, that goes against the stereotype of what it is to be a tough, strong man, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t heroes. Think about it:
- Tony Stark has a drinking problem and PTSD severe enough that it nearly wrecks his relationship with Pepper.
- Steve Rogers is chosen as Captain America for his compassion and intelligence.
- Phil Coulson is a dweeby little bureaucrat in a tailored gray suit.
- Thor loves his brother so dearly that he pleads with him to come home even after Loki invades Earth.
- Bruce Banner despises the violence in his heart that allows him to become the Hulk, and becomes a freelance healer to compensate.
- Sam Wilson is a mental health counselor whose military service was in the pararescue corps, motto: ”So others may live.”
- Nick Fury’s three chief lieutenants are two women (Natasha Romanoff, whom he treats almost as a daughter, and Maria Hill, whom he depends on to fake his death) and one man (Phil Coulson, whom he tasks with rebuilding SHIELD from the ground up).
Almost all of these characters are seen crying or close to tears (especially Cap, who is on the verge of tears during the final combat in CA:TWS), all fight in ways that don’t have buckets of blood thrown at the screen, and all value and respect the women they love and fight beside. The most notable exception is James Rhodes, an Air Force officer, but even he is shown taking care of Tony Stark, his best friend, more often than he’s shown firing a weapon.
I think this may be why the MCU is so popular among women: the men AREN’T the stereotypical strong, silent American hero. They bleed, they cry, they let their guards down, and they treat their friends, regardless of gender, color, race, or religion, as equals. This could not be more different from the blood-soaked ideals of masculinity that have dominated the screen over the last few decades (remember Rambo?), and it’s very, very good to see.
Basically, these characters behave like actual human men; maybe the best of men, but still much more like the regular decent guys you may know in real life than fictional “Alpha Males”.
Which is probably why a certain section of men prefers gritty, grimdark anti-heroes: if Fitz and that SHIELD guy who refuses to launch Project Insight can stand up and do the right thing even when they’re terrified to the point of shaking and crying, if Antoine Triplett (in many ways, Ward’s counterpart) can be both a more “traditional” aggressive operative and quietly geeky, if Nick Fury - the ultimate pragmatist - can draw a line he’s not willing to cross, these men have no excuses left for their behaviour.
Because if these flawed characters can be decent human beings and heroes, then all men have the potential for being decent human beings and heroes. Even if not all men choose to follow that example.
(Additionally: their masculinity doesn’t depend on their ability to get a date, and the relationships are depicted as… complex. It’s almost as if these heroes saw their potential romantic partners as actual human beings with lives of their own - shocking, I know.)
Decided to do something for my return hohoho~
Also I realized that an anon sent me a message a little ways back, asking if Tony would hold a welcome home party. If it was a small thing, then yeah, Tony would. But if Steve was seriously hurt, or it was a dangerous mission, Tony and Steve would celebrate quietly and alone like this~