Marvel Presents: The Biggest Freudian Slip Ever
Marvel throughout the years, has transformed from being a popular comics chain to a multimillion franchise. Although it is an integral aspect of pop culture currently, Marvel had humble origins. With the assistance of Stan Lee, former chairman, Marvel Comics strayed away from unsuccessful mystery and horror comics and created the superheroes that are still recognized currently . Marvel’s success in the cinemas and on television is undeniable. Marvel’s The Avengers profited over 600 million dollars in theaters, and since the advent of a new century, Marvel’s franchise has accrued over 8 billion dollars in just ticket sales alone . If merchandise, video games and television spin-offs were included, their total gross income would be overwhelming. As astounding as it may sound, Marvel’s success does not stem from it sheer popularity exactly. There is a reason why many people, of all ages are drawn to the same superheroes that have existed for nearly 80 years.
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Sigmund Freud’s Civilization and its Discontents can explain Marvel’s prosperity as a whole and why the recently released Deadpool is popular among the viewers. Freud’s ideas of, aggression, sexual limitation, deflection of pain and the distress placed on humans due to laws will adequately explain society’s positive view of Marvel and offer insight on the main character of Deadpool.
Civilization and its Discontents encompasses what is means to be a civilized human being as opposed to not, and its implications on society as a whole. Freud writes that the world brings pain to human beings in different ways. Humans, in turn construct ways to “avert” that pain. The three ways humans deflect pain is by simply deflecting the pain, substituting the pain for art, and use of substances .
Freud also bases many of his ideas and theories from sexuality and how society inhibits humans’ sexual freedom. In chapter 4, Freud concludes that libido and sexual satisfaction allowed for humans to have enduring relationships. Thus, that sort of relationship became the norm among people . However, society managed to limit sexuality by imposing laws. This, according to Freud, allowed society to better regulate its civilians . Anything else outside of the norm was considered a taboo , which is seen as a problem to Freud.
Along with sexuality, aggressiveness is also inhibited among civilians. According to Freud, humans’ aggression is innate, and given the opportunity to, humans will use their aggression towards violence and to inflict pain on others. For this reason, society creates statutes that make it unlawful for civilians to act violent towards eachother . Depriving humans of their inborn instincts creates tensions that causes, as Freud will later explain, a dissatisfaction with society.
Freud’s description of how society places restrictions on the instincts of humans, as illustrated in chapters 4 and 5, is highlighted by the civilizations need to decrease the importance of individual interests and place more emphasis on society as a whole . Placing such limitations on individuals because of these laws, impedes their growth; and potential is lost.
There are many accounts, according to several people, on why Marvel is so popular today. Jeffery A. Brown writes that one of the reasons why Marvel is highly acclaimed is due to the use of Computer Generated Images (CGI) and other special effects to make the phenomena in Marvel movies more believable . Even though viewers know viewers are aware that many of the special effects are physically impossible in reality, it doesn’t stop them from imagining what it would be like if they were. Sarah James offers her input as well by stating that Marvel movies allow its viewers to be immersed in a world where their worries are irrelevant for the time being. Besides just being a mere distraction, Marvel allow viewers to believe in that they can reach seemingly difficult goals . James also offers a quote that is very reminiscent of Freudian ideas: “Superheroes sublimate the fears and anxieties … onto the villain, and the audience enjoys a cathartic experience of seeing the hero overcome those challenges and leaves the story with a feeling that individual and the world’s troubles can be overcome.” Freud would see this as individuals’ discontentment with civilization and the restrictions it holds on them. Marvel superheroes, for the most part, are not bound by the same laws as regular humans. Some superheroes can fly, have exceptional speed and strength, and other supernatural abilities, whereas humans don’t. Freud would see that disparity illustrated in the relationship between the individual and society. Civilians are bound by the laws of their society. Because they cannot escape that in the manner that superheroes do, it propagates that dislike for civilization. In addition, Freud would also see individuals’ opinions of Marvel as an escape from reality as using substituting satisfactions to ease world-inflicted pain.
Violence is a big aspect of Marvel culture. Simply put, the “good guys” defeat the “bad guys” by forceful means. According to Jonathan McIntosh, viewers do not only enjoy aggressive violence, they appreciate it more when the heroes and heroines inflict pain on the villains . It is stated that throughout every Marvel movie most—if not all conflicts are solved through violence. There have been accounts when the audience in the cinemas cheered when the disliked villain is finally defeated . McIntosh explains the acceptance of violence as a way to enforce masculinity among male viewers . However, Freud would most likely explain viewers’ obsession with violence and aggression as emergence of their aggressive nature. Freud states that all humans are naturally inclined towards violence . Because the law prohibits individuals from freely attacking and inflicting harm onto others, viewers are left with no choice than to watch it in movies (and any other television show, for that matter) and benefit from watching others act according to their nature.
Deadpool, a movie based on the comic book character of the same name is known for its comedy and gruesome violence. Among other things, Deadpool is known for his peculiar personality and numerous sexual innuendos. Towards the beginning of the film during a fight scene, Deadpool burns another character with a car lighter and places it into the characters mouth. He leans in and says “I’ve never said this [before] but don’t swallow. ” In another scene, Deadpool threatens a teenage boy, “I have soft spots, but you’ll find that I have hard spots too…That came out wrong. Or did it? ” Deadpool holds a plethora of innuendos, all clever and quite funny. As humorous as they can be, it has bigger implications on why society defines them as insinuations in the first place. It is possible that Freud would find Deadpool comical. However, Freud would probably appreciate that Deadpool exercises his unrestrained freedom to act in the way nature dictates. Freud asserts that civilization has put heavy restrictions on the individual’s sexuality and made anything outside a monogamous relationship taboo. ” While Deadpool’s main drive in the story is to reunite with his lover, whom he is in a monogamous relationship with , it is alluded that wasn’t always the case. Deadpool has had many sexual partners in his past, inside and outside a relationship. Although it is not viewed as immoral as it was in history, frequent sexual activity with numerous partners is looked down upon; those who partake are named slurs not worth mentioning. Based on how Freud depicts libido , Freud would have an issue with how it’s viewed on a societal level. However, because Deadpool does not exist in the realm of normal humans and because normal-human societal rules do not apply to him, he practices his sexuality freely. Related to the idea of the lack of rules heroes have to follow, viewers find Deadpool so entertaining because the character is able to do anything he wants. Viewers, as stated by James , wish they could.
The popularity of the Marvel franchise transcends generations. Action-packed plots, violence, and in some cases sexual activity in comics, movies, shows and video games has enforced that popularity. It is important to acknowledge that the theories and ideas of Freud best explain its success on a symbolic level. That being said, if society continues to be dissatisfied with the way things are, Marvel will always be popular.