Hesiod, in his classic tome Works and Days, divided the history of humanity into five ages. Comic book culture adopted this structure in order to categorize the years leading up to the present. The super powered people drawn by Detective Comics led the Golden Age. The freaks and geeks of Marvel Comics brought about the Silver Age. Thereafter the two sides battled for supremacy throughout the Bronze Age. Then darkness dawned in the mid-eighties with the rise of the anti-hero and other aggrandized villainy. They call this period “Modernity,” but considering the hopelessness attributed to the here-and-now it is evident that an Age of Heroes is needed.
Rosy fingered Dawn met these demands on May 4th with the release of The Avengers. Once upon a time the cinematic sphere permitted residence to independent heroes only. The idea of a team of super-powered individuals was preposterous. Suffice it to say the naysayers were wrong, and their misunderstanding of power was their downfall.
And so the Age of Heroes begins with a power play. At the core of Joss Whedon’s passion project are the questions, “what is power?” And more importantly, “how is it to be used?” Every character within the drama is equipped with an incredible amount of power, and in turn, they are presented with the difficulties inherent in handling such. On one side there are those who feel it is evidence of superiority, and justification for suppression. On the other are those who feel obliged to sacrifice these gifts for the sake of those without. It’s a timeless juxtaposition, and in a sense redundant when the contrast is two-fold. However, the arena this time around is a battleground. Meaning, the epiphanies are eclectic instead of singular. Evil in its various forms learns no lessons, for even in defeat they refuse to see the error of their ways. Stubborn adherence to one’s principles is their folly.
The Avengers are awakened to the error of their ways with the enemy at the gates. Independently they see that their isolated outlook is insufficient. Power alone is not enough. The collection of cooperative and supporting traits provides power with the right direction and effective application. Thus, by uniting their efforts they find the success no one in this power play could find alone. Furthermore, the fact their union focuses on protection instead of oppression aids this union with integrity, a bond not easily broken.
In the end power is the ability to affect an outcome, and it is best used together. The Age of Heroes has begun, and it’s being led by men and women willing to use their power for good.