This is the first blog in a series discussing the Marvelization of Man’s Mind.
After watching Morbius, I felt flat and bloated like I had just downed a Family Sized Package of Cheetos too fast.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved Morbius’ origin story!
The movie is well acted, well executed, and has superb special effects… just as we have come to expect from a Marvelous Marvel Movie… or should I say, just as we have been conditioned to expect?
Perhaps that’s it, Marvel Movies are entirely predictable. In the past 20 some years, they have become perfectly formulated to meet popular tastes. Because of this, we know what to expect, when to expect it, and how to expect it.
Marvel Movies run on well worn tracks of success. Yes, a few have been busts, but on average, Marvel Movies make $715 million dollars per movie with at least half of this gross-income, which means it goes right into the pockets of Robert Iger, CEO, and the Disney-Marvel Cinematic Universe. This has been the case since 2009 when Disney brought Marvel Cinematic Universe from Ronald Perelman who formerly use to pocket the bucks.
The Marvelous Marvel formula has evolved to include hooks and lures about how each newly rendered Marvel character retrieved from the Marvel vault and brought to life on screen will met up and team up with other recently revived Marvel characters for the next Marvelous Marvel movie.
Heck, soon the different Disney universes and their characters might begin meeting up with Marvel, or ever perhaps as, Marvel characters to fight off the bad guys.
Perhaps like this super cool new chic: Tinker Bell Die Hard Predator Ape?
Hell YEAH… this might actually BE interesting!
Marvel Characters Are Archetypes
We adore Marvel characters because they are archetypes. They speak to things deep inside of all of us: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Stuff that is really, really hard to speak to each other about in our overly average, highly regimented, very repetitive work, work, and more work worlds.
Mostly we don’t talk to each other about this stuff. It is so much safer (and let’s face it, it is so much easier) to be superficial with each other.
That’s what the movies are made for! Right?!
Movies give us an emotional release and a little freedom from all that stuff pent up and building up inside of us. The stuff we don’t or can’t talk to each other about, at least not on the deepest levels where our wounds usually lay. These are deep interior layers that we can seldom reach without self-expression that can lead to self-realization, if we allow it.
This is what archetypes partly do for us. They help illuminate things inside of us that are vague, mysterious, troubling, or even exhilarating. But things that are hard to put our finger on because they are inside of us and we can’t see them with our eyes. We can only feel them or try not to feel them when they bother us too much.
Archetypes are mental models that give shape and perspective on the shadowy, nebulous, unsettling, fuzzy states and feelings that can overtake us. They do a lot more than this, but for the purposes of this blog I’ll stick to how archetypes provide man with mental models on how to handle and act to feelings rising inside of him and all around him in other people.
Ever since Marvel’s founding in 1939 by Martin Goodman, which was then known as Timely Comics, the characters have been giving shape to man’s collective shadowy feelings and showing us possibilities on how to channel and handle our dim, indistinct inner worlds in our shared outer world.
Ever since its beginning, Marvel characters were created to meet a moment. They emerged from the fabric of that time and in the spaces of what was happening in the country or world at that moment. Their creators invented characters who could met the demands and uncertainty of the times in which they were created.
I am sure each creator imbued their characters with the super powers everyone needed at that moment to survive mental through the demands, threats, and catastrophes of the times. That is what archetypes do. They provide strong mental images combined with stories that imbue inspiration, hope, and courage into the hearts and minds of real people who need to meet real life challenges as they navigate the ups and downs of life.
Character Date Created Creator(s) Sub-Mariner | 1939 (Build up to WII)| Bill Everett Human Torch | 1939 (Build up toWWII) | Carl Burgos Angel | 1939 (Build up to WWII) | Paul Gustavson Masked Raider | 1939 (WWII & shifting economics) | Al Anders Phantom Reporter | 1940 (WWII & shifting economics)| Robert O. Erisman, Sam Cooper Black Widow | 1940 (WWII & shifting economics such as women working to build war machines and bombs) | George Kapitan, Harry Gahle Vision | 1940 (Intensification of WWII)| Joe Simon, Jack Kirby Captain America | 1940 (Intensification of WWII)| Joe Simon, Jack Kirby Black Marvel | 1941 (Intensification of WWII) | Al Gabriele Uranian Boy | 1950 (First atomic bomb drop 1945) | Stan Lee, Russ Heath The Fantastic Four | 1961 (It's the 60s and its Stan and Jack!) | Stan Lee, Jack Kirby The Hulk | 1962 (It's the 60s and its Stan and Jack!)| Stan Lee, Jack Kirby Red She Hulk | 1962 (It's the 60s and its Stan and Jack!) | Stan Lee, Jack Kirby Thor | 1962 (It's the 60s and its Stan and Jack!)| Stan Lee, Jack Kirby Spider-Man | 1962 (It's the 60s and its Stan and Steve this time)| Stan Lee, Steve Ditko Iron Man | 1963 (Cuban missile crisis 1962)| Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Don Heck Doctor Strange | 1963 (Cuban missile crisis 1962) | Stan Lee, Steve Ditko Black Panther | 1966 (Civil Rights Act sign 1965) | Stan Lee, Jack Kirby -- See full timeline at Wiki
I think you get the idea.
So, What’s Wrong With A Little Marvel Time?!
There is nothing wrong with a little Marvel time.
The issue is much more subtle and pervasive than that. It is not so much that we go to the movies to watch great, big, spectacular dramas that take our minds off our worries or give us a joyful jolt of non-reality.
The issue is rather what we are not seeing when we go to the movies, especially the really BIG blockbuster ones that are highly formulated and super monetized to capture our time and attention.
These blockbuster cash cows act like somewhat steamrollers crushing the competition and funneling more and more money into the pockets of billionaires who own mega conglomerates that control the content and production of multiple franchises and merchandise.
And guess what the mega billionaires want you to do?
They want you to go to see more of their movies and buy more of their merchandise so they make more money.
And we do exactly that… and each time we do, they grow even bigger!
If you’re wondering why Marvel movies all look alike, it’s because of us. It is the way we are choosing to consume them.
I recently learned more about this from Terry Gross’ interview with Lucas Shaw, who is in charge of Media and Entertainment at Bloomberg and writes the Screentime newsletter. He’s the one who made me aware of how much content Disney owns!
But there are a lot of other big Media-Entertainment Titans operating out there too and all of them want to get inside our heads and tickle away some our money that we make working highly automated jobs that require at least 8 hours of our days, 5 days a week.
Sadly, despite popular opinions, most of us do not work in our Dream Jobs! Indeed, most of us must go through the motions 8 hours days doing very boring, tedious, monotonous work. So who wouldn’t want to break free and escape into a Marvelous Marvel movie when it comes out?
But that might be exactly what the super rich want us to feel and react. They can make money from lots of bored people who need to escape from their dreary, mind-numbing, mechanical lives with a Fantastic New Movie!
And, hey wait, you can also escape and feel just like the movie characters feel by buying this splashy new watch or this brand new fancy car or this mouthwatering, very pricey dress. And of course you need the latest technology to go along with all this! You want to look modern don’t you?
All these fancy, enjoyable costly things are there to help you escape from your boredom and ease your burden of living highly repetitive, unvarying, humdrum modern lives.
Lucas Shaw tells Terry Gross how the movie-TV-streaming business is becoming one super long ad promoting consumerism, capitalism, and merchandising by the new Titans of Industry.
SHAW: You know, Barry Diller, I feel like, has been declaring the death of Hollywood for a long time now, so I do take what he says with a little grain of salt. But he's right that the growth of Amazon and Apple, which I would say are now two of the six major studios in town - you know, they've replaced some of the other ones that have been consolidated in the deals that we've talked about - entertainment is not their primary business. And it speaks to maybe the lesser value of traditional film and television in broader culture, where it - so does the fact that YouTube is now bigger than any TV network, that if you - that TikTok is as popular as any streaming service.
You know, film and TV doesn't have the same stranglehold on culture and on youth that it used to. And it's - if I were running one of these traditional media and entertainment companies - running Warner Bros. Discovery, running Disney - it would certainly scare me that two of our biggest competitors don't care about making money from film and TV in the same way because it means that the stakes are lower. The approach is going to be different. And entertainment is just a means of selling something else - in Amazon's case, you know, diapers or books or whatever it is; in Apple's case, phones and other devices. -- FreshAir, July 20, 2023
So my take away from this conversation is that the purpose of movies, TV shows, and streaming platforms are increasingly veering towards a focus on how to keep viewing audiences glued to a particular station-conglomerate, so it can make more money–be that ads, subscriptions, or the super cool merchandise they make, create, and sell.
The Hollowing Out Effect of Money
This hyper-focus on making more money is a major force in hollowing out many Marvel characters. You can read about the reasons why 16 actors are talking about quitting or leaving the Marvel Cinematic Universe here.
The Marvel universe seems to be becoming more one-dimensional and cartoonish as the focus on making another blockbuster and capturing the vast majority of the market take precedence over story. This focus on money has a watering down effect on the characters, making them feel less real, less vibrant, and less inspiring.
They are losing their numinosity, which is what archetypes hold for us. Numinous content gives our lives meaning, content, and purpose. Without numinosity in our lives, we feel drab, automatic, and mechanical.
But maybe the mechanization of man is one of the very objectives these new Titans of Industry seek to create inside of us.
If we are continually feeling unimportant, unremarkable, and unnecessary in keeping the clogs of industry running in the world, then we need to compensate for our super small roles in society.
How else can we wake up each morning and go out to do our boring, repetitive jobs?
So a good Marvel Movie is a great antidote to not feeling like a machine!
But, don’t get too caught up in the marvelousness of a Marvel movie! That would be going too far in our highly mechanized modern world.
If you do happen to believe Marvel characters are real and you look up to them and draw hope and courage from then (like any good archetype should do), then you will get laughed at because we are not really suppose to identify with them anymore. They are simply entertainment.
We watch them, then we get up the next day and go back to work to make some money so we can go watch the next amazing Marvel movie coming out soon because there was that little teaser at the end!
Another troubling result of the Marvelization of Man is that Marvel movies are impacting how other movies are made or even more importantly, NOT BEING MADE.
With great big, super blockbusters with BIG special effects (like Marvel, Star Wars, Avatar), more and more people only go to theaters to see these on the silver screen. They don’t show up for the “other movies” being made and trying to survive in an increasingly one-dimensional entertainment universe.
Basically, every studio wants a piece of the action in this “shared universe” business.
But it’s hard to argue that any of them have been as successful as Marvel has.
Kevin Feige’s ambitious plan (which resulted in him being named President of Marvel Studios and reporting directly to Disney CEO Bob Iger) has fundamentally changed the way film studios approach properties. Certainly, a creative idea which allows for iteration upon iteration, sequel after sequel after spinoff after prequel, to be produced is appealing to every studio executive. -- The Marvelization of Movies | / FILM TALKIES
This effect is drying up the field of creativity for the creation, production, and life of other types of movies that deal with difficult but really important stuff such as Women Talking:
The women of an isolated religious community grapple with reconciling their reality with their faith. Though the backstory, we see a community of women come together to figure out how they might move forward together to build a better world for themselves and their children. Stay and fight or leave. They will not do nothing.— Official synopsis
Or like the Fabelmans:
Growing up in post-World War II era Arizona, young Sammy Fabelman aspires to become a filmmaker as he reaches adolescence, but soon discovers a shattering family secret and explores how the power of films can help him see the truth. It is lpLoosely based on Spielberg's childhood growing up in post-World War II era Arizona, from age seven to eighteen, a young man named Sammy Fabelman discovers a shattering family secret, and explores how the power of movies help us see the truth about each other and ourselves. —Toronto International Film Festival He also encounters antisemitism and bullying, which is a very important issue that deserves far more airtime in our current culture and polictical climate.
Or going back even further to the time of radio like Suspense: Report From A Dead Planet
Another thing that struck me while watching Morbius is that really talented actors are playing pretty superficial, very simplified characters.
Matt Smith for example is the villain in Morbius. He is great as the villain, but his performance leaves me feeling empty. He is a really talented actor! Why don’t I feel more from his performance in Morbius?
Because I’m not supposed to?!
His super villain in Morbius is pretty vanilla compared to his roles in Season 1 and 2 of The Crown, The Last Night in Soho, and my all time favorite The Doctor of Doctor Who.
Also, Jared Leto who plays Morbius struck me as a super talented actor as well. I haven’t seen him before. He does a great job playing Morbius. In fact, he imbue more life into Morbius than the role allows.
I think Quentin Tarantino sums it up pretty well when he said: “Marvel Actors Are ‘Not Movie Stars’“
Tarantino previously said that he would not want to direct a movie for Marvel Studios for the simple reason he is “not a hired hand.’ As someone planning to direct just ten movies in his career, and with only one of those to make up the number, it is probably not surprising that the Pulp Fiction helmer would want to concentrate on his own ideas. When it comes to the MCU, the director says that the franchise does not contain any “movie stars” as the characters are all people want to see. He said:
“Part of the Marvel-ization of Hollywood is… you have all these actors who have become famous playing these characters, but they’re not movie stars. Right? Captain America is the star. Or Thor is the star. I mean, I’m not the first person to say that. I think that’s been said a zillion times, you know, but it’s like, you know, it’s these franchise characters that become a star.” -- Quentin Tarantino Says Marvel Actors Are 'Not Movie Stars' BY ANTHONY LUND PUBLISHED NOV 22, 2022 Quentin Tarantino has been vocal about his feelings regarding the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it looks like he isn't quite done yet.
I will still watch Marvel movies.
But I will seek out and watch more different movies that leave an impression in my psyche and make me think about the world in ways I might not have before.
I will continue to gravitate to movies where BIG ideas are explored rather than BIG action but increasingly hallow characters dance across the screen.
I want something that satisfies my imagination and feeds my psyche, because feeling alive and not like small cog in a BIG machine is important to me, and only I can change my perspective and the way I feel about things.
Stories and movies feed my imagination so I can feed and grow my soul.
Stay tuned for this series because I am going to go deeper into the effects and impacts of living in our super consumerism society on man’s mind.
For now, maybe the Oppenheimer-Barbie movies will provide a reprieve from the Marvelization of Man’s Mind.
I made all images with Genolve using AI generated images, specifically Midjourney, this time. So I am just listing the songs used in the above animations.
Feature Archetypal Animation: Nowhere but Up |  Break the Chain 4:53
Mary Poppins Jedi Master Archetypal Animation:
SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICEXPIALIDOCIOUS (Clean Version)209TONYTONY
 SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICEXPIALIDOCIOUS 3:02
Barbie Archetypal Animation:
Summer Nova All Atomic
 Summer Nova 5:18