NRA: Killer pacifists

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist, pp. 71-74

As World War III continues, a global broadcast begins to all the people of the Earth:

“Ladies and gentlemen, from an unknown location, we bring you, live, Global Community potentate Nicolae Carpathia.”

Generally speaking, when world leaders are set to make a somber pronouncement, you don’t want to make the introduction sound like the next act in a variety show.

Before Nicolae begins his big speech, Jerry Jenkins wants to make it clear to readers that this man –the Antichrist, who has just slaughtered tens of millions of people by nuking London, New York, Chicago, Washington and assorted airports — is the Bad Guy. To underscore that point, Jenkins gives us this:

The potentate looked amused as he was being introduced and winked at a couple of his ambassadors. He pretended to lick his finger and smooth his eyebrows, as if primping for his audience. The others stifled chuckles. Rayford wished he had a weapon.

Rayford seems to have forgotten that he is flying a weapon, but the point there is about his wishes, not his actions. That’s meant to remind us that he’s the Good Guy. And it’s true –Good Guys don’t chuckle while cities get vaporized. They probably wouldn’t just sit around, idly letting it happen, either, but Jenkins is not wrong about the not-chuckling.

What follows here is Nicolae’s big speech. This speech is awkwardly phrased and bland — so much so that it takes a page or two before one realizes how impossible and unbelievable it is. This passage manages to be both dull and bafflingly weird at the same time.

To appreciate just how weird, let’s recap where we are in our story. Nicolae Carpathia has been global potentate for more than a year. This position of unchecked global power was created just for him, unanimously and voluntarily, with every nation on Earth (except Israel) cheerfully surrendering its sovereignty and every individual cheerfully surrendering their rights, begging to be ruled by him with no further say in their own government.

This happened, we were told, because Nicolae is a pacifist — a champion of nonviolence and global disarmament. Specifically, he championed the dismantling of all nuclear weapons. This was what people wanted, what they demanded, because they had been led to believe that nuclear weapons, somehow, had been the cause of the calamitous disintegration of all of their children.

That’s a deliriously weird premise for a story, but it’s the story we have been given. All the children, everywhere, evaporate instantaneously. The people of Earth come to believe that this was due to “electromagnetism” caused by unused nuclear weapons and so they all decide to dissolve their national governments and appoint a pacifist as global “potentate” to rule over the entire world with absolute power.

Can such a story be convincing? Is it possible to imagine such a string of events actually happening in any realistic world meant to seem anything like our own?

Well, Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins think this is perfectly plausible and true-to-life. More than that, they think this is not just a believable story, but something that will actually happen, soon, in real life, just the way they describe. They say the Bible says so, somewhere, if you study it in just the right way.

So if you find this unrealistic or implausible, boy will your face be red when it all occurs just exactly this way according to prophecy.

And but so, we arrive at this point in the Left Behind saga. Nicolae Carpathia, fiercely anti-nuclear pacifist, is the beloved and benevolent ruler of the entire world (except Israel). He is so very beloved and so very benevolent that he has been ceded unlimited power, constrained by nothing other than his own beloved benevolence. That’s how things have been for more than a year.

Until now. Now, suddenly, in the last 24 hours of our story, everything has completely changed. The benevolent pacifist has been unmasked as a murderous tyrant. This same Nicolae has just nuked London, New York, Washington, Chicago, and various airports. These attacks are still taking place — aerial assaults carried out by the only air force in the world. Tens of millions of people are dead and dying and the whole world knows that it is Nicolae who is killing them.

And now, for the first time since being unmasked, Nicolae is about to speak to his subjects:

“Ladies and gentlemen, from an unknown location, we bring you, live, Global Community potentate Nicolae Carpathia.”

What will he say? There is nothing to say, nothing that he can say, except the hideous truth. “Mbwahahahaha,” he must say, “I am evil, evil, eeeee-vil! Submit or die, puny humans. All will love me, and despair!”

But he doesn’t say that. He doesn’t say anything like that. The newly unmasked Nicolae just tries to pretend he’s still wearing the mask — tries to pretend that the whole world hasn’t just seen his true self revealed without it. And everyone plays along with that.

“Brothers and sisters of the Global Community, I am speaking to you with the greatest heaviness of heart I have ever known. I am a man of peace who has been forced to retaliate with arms against international terrorists who would jeopardize the cause of harmony and fraternity. You may rest assured that I grieve with you over the loss of loved ones, of friends, of acquaintances. The horrible toll of civilian lives should haunt these enemies of peace for the rest of their days.”

I’m sorry if you knew anyone in New York, but I had to nuke it in “the cause of harmony and fraternity.”

“As you know, most of the ten world regions that comprise the Global Community destroyed 90 percent of their weapon hardware. We have spent nearly the last two years breaking down, packaging, shipping, receiving, and reassembling this hardware in New Babylon. My humble prayer was that we would never have had to use it.”

In the aftermath of any mass-casualty event, it’s always important to praise the brave men and women who serve in Shipping & Receiving.

“However, wise counselors persuaded me to stockpile storehouses of technologically superior weapons in strategic locations around the globe. I confess I did this against my will, and my optimistic and overly positive view of the goodness of mankind has proven faulty.”

Every time I try to read that last sentence it seems to mean something different. This whole speech reminds me of Bilbo’s birthday farewell — “I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.”

“I am grateful that somehow I allowed myself to be persuaded to keep these weapons at the ready. In my wildest dreams, I never would have imagined that I would have to make the difficult decision to turn this power against enemies on a broad scale.”

Keep in mind as we slog through this rambling, vacuous speech, that the authors have insisted all along that Nicolae Carpathia is the greatest orator in the history of the world. This is a recurring theme in our journey through these books (see “Meet the GIRAT” and “Oratory“). The authors make superlative promises, then follow up with less-than-average examples.

If you are writing a story that requires a character to be a great orator, then you have two choices: 1) Either you are going to have to write great oratory of the sort that will make readers think, “Wow, no joke, that’s some great oratory;” or 2) You are going to have to write around it, by portraying how others respond to this character’s oratory, showing its effects without ever showing the thing itself lest your own writing fails to do it justice.

Jerry Jenkins here is giving us his best shot at that first approach. This three-page speech of Nicolae’s is what it looks like when that approach utterly fails.

Nicolae attempts to blame most of the death and destruction on these terrorist-enemies, saying they were “trained by the American militia” and used “secretly stored weapons” from Britain and Egypt. The authors intend this to be a plausible-sounding claim. In their minds, apparently, American militia groups would be an effective source of training for aerial attacks and the use of tactical nuclear weapons.

“While I should never have to defend my reputation as an antiwar activist, I am pleased to inform you that we have retaliated severely and with dispatch. Anywhere that Global Community weaponry was employed, it was aimed specifically at rebel military locations. I assure you that all civilian casualties and the destruction of the great populated cities in North America and around the world was the work of the rebellion.”

So I’m still a pacifist despite nuking all those cities, and I only nuked those cities because I had too, and it wasn’t me who nuked those cities, it was those other guys who don’t have nukes.

Again, this speech is presented not just as great oratory, but as persuasive. The people of the world accept this nonlinear and unreasonable line of reasoning.

Nicolae finishes off with what the authors regard as a stirring, inspiring crescendo:

“I know that in a time of global war such as this, most of us live in fear and grief. I can assure you that I am with you in your grief but that my fear has been overcome by confidence that the majority of the global community is together, heart and soul, against the enemies of peace. … You may rest assured that as we reconstruct and reorganize, we will enjoy the greatest prosperity and the most wonderful home this earth can afford. May we all work together for the common goal.”

Tens of millions dead and the authors imagine that this speech is adequate to the moment. They imagine that it will comfort all who seek comfort, reassure all who need reassurance, and answer every concern of those demanding answers after this epic slaughter.

The authors typed up this speech, skimmed it over, and thought, “Yep, that ought to do it. That’ll convince the entire world to rally behind Nicolae.” Remarkable.

The piece of this I want to focus on here is Nicolae’s insistence that none of this alters his status as a strict pacifist. Despite his retaliatory overkill and his enthusiastic employment of lethal violence against millions of civilians, he insists he remains a pacifist and “an antiwar activist.”

That’s the giveaway word, “activist.” Nicolae Carpathia is the global potentate — he is the sovereign, the emperor, the monarch. No monarch thinks of himself as an “activist.” If the potentate wants something done, he doesn’t engage in “activism” — he just commands it to be done.

But antiwar activists are what Tim LaHaye thinks of whenever he hears the word “peace.” And Tim LaHaye does not like antiwar activists. He is certain they are all lying about their true intent.

Most of us read Nicolae’s speech and we find it ludicrous that he still claims to be “a man of peace.” You can’t say you’re a pacifist, then resort to massive lethal violence, and then still say you’re a pacifist.

But LaHaye doesn’t see that as a contradiction. This is what he believes all pacifists are really like. They are all sneaky and disingenuous. None of them truly rejects violence, that’s just a ruse — a trick to get us to let our guard down so that we will be defenseless when they attack. For LaHaye, Nicolae isn’t a fake pacifist, but the archetype of a genuine one.

LaHaye’s odd notion of “peace” and “pacifism,” comes from two sources. First, and most importantly, is the thing that shapes his identity — and the theology of these books — more than anything else: the John Birch Society. LaHaye isn’t just a Bircher, he’s a frozen-in-amber 1960s, Southern California Bircher.

This means that, for LaHaye, everything is filtered through the lens of the Cold War. The conflict between the free, Christian West and godless Soviet Communism is the most important moral struggle of all. But that doesn’t mean that the godless Soviets are the most important enemy. Birchers like LaHaye were never all that worried about the Soviets themselves, whose moral and military inferiority seemed obvious. No, what they were most worried about was the possibility that treasonous Americans might weaken our superiority by talk of peace. LaHaye never feared that the Communists could win. He feared that the hippies and “antiwar activists” would make America lose.

That danger, then, required the greatest vigilance. True Americans must always be watchful against the dirty hippies with their sneaky, subversive talk of “peace.” Such enemies within might accomplish what the Soviet Army never could, tricking America into letting down its guard.

No surprise, then, that Tim LaHaye’s portrait of the Antichrist is someone who calls himself an “antiwar activist.”

The other source of his misunderstanding of pacifists is Tim LaHaye’s misunderstanding of Jesus. In LaHaye’s mind, Jesus is just exactly like this too. All that talk of blessed peacemakers, cheek-turning, and greater-love-hath-no-man and such was also just a ruse. The whole time he was talking like that, Jesus was just keeping his powder dry, biding his time until what LaHaye calls the “Glorious Appearing.” At that point, Jesus will return in spectacularly violent fashion to wipe out all his enemies in an orgy of blood and death.

That is how Tim LaHaye thinks of the Prince of Peace. That is what he imagines is the real agenda of anyone who calls themselves peacemakers or pacifists. Just like Jesus — and just like Nicolae — they’re only putting on an act until the day when they reveal their true agenda.

So to LaHaye, it’s not at all strange that Nicolae continues to call himself a pacifist even as he kills everyone in Chicago and plans to kill everyone in San Francisco. The only thing that’s strange about that to LaHaye is that anyone would ever expect a pacifist to do otherwise.


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  • Makabit

    I can almost see the idea of the disarmament itself working. People would be hysterical following the disappearance of the children (and Bible-thumping Aunt Agatha), and would be willing to believe almost anything in the face of a completely unbelievable situation, perhaps even that nuclear stockpiles did it with electromagnetism. Of course, it would require a deft hand to convince people of that theory–a deft hand Nicolae does not really seem to have…but it could happen.

    At this point, though…Lord, it just doesn’t work, does it?

  • lofgren

    I think it’s important that Coulson actually died and that Avengers 2 avoid any “HAHA FOOLED YOU” shenanigans for the same reason I think Jason Todd, Gwen Stacy, and General Zod should have stayed dead. Heroes need to have the death of somebody meaningful on their watch in order to teach them that they can’t save everybody. (Of course every single one of those characters has been resurrected in the comics, every one in storylines I thought were pretty terrible, but at least Jason Todd and Zod’s returns were well-received by fans so what do I know?)

  • Madhabmatics

    Who cares about Coulson, do you realize that ROCKET RACCOON and GROOT are coming to the big screen?!

  • Madhabmatics
  • EllieMurasaki

    Call me when Black Widow or Black Panther headlines a film.

  • People can read Reagan’s diaries now, and so now we know that he really
    really did not want nuclear war, and was actually trying to prevent it.
    Right-wingers like to give people lots of credit for intentions, as we
    see with the LB series. I don’t feel the same way, of course, but it is
    interesting to know that Reagan was not actually willing to destroy the
    world. He sure convinced a lot of American children that he was

    As much as I dislike Reagan, if his intention was to end the cold war without causing a  nuclear apocalypse, and he achieved ending the cold war without causing a nuclear apocalypse, I think it may not be entirely valid to take him to task for intent not being magic.

  • Madhabmatics

     I’m sorry, I think you miss-spelled Mr Miracle for the second hero.

    a Mr. Terrific + Zauriel team-up movie would be a fun use of a black superhero too though, it would be like a buddy cop movie except with more “I know you aren’t an angel, Zauriel.” “I totally am an angel!”

  • EllieMurasaki

    Wiki tells me Mr Miracle’s DC. Marvel Cinematic Universe is never going to contain DC characters. Or X-Men or Spiderman, as the movie rights to them are with companies other than the one handling the MCU.

  • Madhabmatics

    Well I guess if you are going to settle for only Marvel awesome black superheroes in movies instead of having DC ones, you’ll have to live without the best New God character teaching people that There Is A Life Equation. :P

  • If my goal is to keep an armed person from shooting first instead of second, making them think that I’m willing to shoot first is not the optimal way of going about it.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Mutually assured destruction?

  • lofgren

    Marvel seems to be making an effort here and there to make the cast more diverse, Nick Fury being the most obvious example. They’re somewhat limited in what they can do because they are probably concerned that fans would react poorly to a gender or race switch of a first tier character like Iron Man, and they can’t wave a magic wand and generate sufficient interest in a third stringer like Black Widow or Black Panther to make it worthwhile for them to make a movie.

    Although the Black Panther comic has been doing well for a while now, and I know for a fact that they have investigated the possibility of a movie or TV show. I’m not sure why those plans have been abandoned or delayed.

    Not that I am saying people should be totally satisfied with the only minorities being black sidekicks (is War Machine even in Iron Man 3?) or, in Fury’s case, the guy whose entire narrative function is to fail so that the heroes can come in and save the day. Pressure should definitely be kept on Marvel in order to push the franchise in a more diverse direction. I’m just saying that, given the constraints of a stable of characters that was mostly established by the end of the ’60s, they do seem to be listening.

    I’ve always felt like there is something really weird about the politics of Black Panther. It’s tough to know what to make of the Wakandans. On the one hand, they found themselves in possession of technology vastly advanced over their neighbors, and yet didn’t use that technology to massacre, enslave, and/or subjugate everybody around them until their local environment could no longer support their empire and it collapsed into a dark age. On the other hand, their advanced technology allowed them to develop beneficial inventions like a cure for cancer, which they don’t bother to share with anybody, and they’re all kind of supercilious dicks (this is acknowledged in the comics – pride is not a sin for Wakandans, it’s just the frank understanding of the obvious fact that they are irrefutably superior to everybody else). On the gripping hand, both of these features of their fictitious culture make me think that Wakanda is nothing but African Orientalism. It’s great that Black Panther is a black super hero and all, but I can’t shake the feeling that anybody who’s actually from Africa should find him at least a little offensive. He’s really only a slight improvement over Apache Chief.

    One thing that really bugged me about X-Men: First Class was that there was absolutely no reference to the very real race issues of the 1960s. You would think that a black cab driver in 1962, who is also secretly a mutant, might have a few words to say to the two white CIA guys who jump into his car and reveal that they have been secretly tracking you and say they understand your pain because they have also been discriminated against for their easily concealed god-like superpowers. The movie seems to suggest that racial strife ended with the Holocaust.

    To make up for this, it might be nice to see a movie about the origin of Nick Fury. In the comics, Nick Fury was used against his will as a test subject for the Super Soldier program that created Captain America (Black Nick Fury’s origin story was merged with that of Isaiah Bradley). It would be interesting to see how young Nick Fury feels fighting for a country that has performed medical experiments on him and literally enslaved him, and how he feels about Captain America, the golden boy who became a celebrity and was treated as a hero for undergoing a procedure that was safer and more successful for having been tested on Black Americans first. And it would be especially interesting to see what changes to allow him to rejoin the military that used him as a lab rat, and eventually to become the head of SHIELD.

    I actually didn’t like the comic book treatment of that story all that much, but there is an epic in there that says a lot about the relationship of Black Americans to their government from the 1930s to the present. I’d really like to see it done well, and I think it would be a hell of a lot more interesting than Black Panther.

  • Dmoore970

    Speaking as one who is old enough to remember the Cold War, a lot of the debate over the War on Terror seemed drearily familiar.  People dredged up a lot of arguments I had heard before — that we were facing an existential threat, that survival trumps all, that in the face of the crisis, that we had to match an enemy of unparalleled ruthlessness, that  our values were a luxury we could no longer afford, etc.  

    And, yes, when there were enough nuclear weapons pointed at each other to destroy the whole world population several times over, I feared that it just might be true.  And then the Soviet Union turned out to be WAY overrated and collapsed without a shot being fired.  Now granted, the Cold War never actually touched our shores.  9-11 did.  But somehow after you have heard those arguments once, you are not willing to fall for them a second time.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I’m not sure why those plans have been abandoned or delayed.

    I saw an interview somewhere regarding plans for including Black Panther in the MCU to the tune of Africa is a strange and foreign place, particularly the parts that have money, and it is hard to do strange and foreign places.
    This was after the release of Thor.

    Haven’t actually read any comics myself (excepting Sandman, the Supernatural tie-ins which they are crap do not read them, the first issue of Princeless, and the issue that came free with the Avengers Blu-ray…yeah, I think that’s all of the comics I’ve ever read), so I’ve no idea what you’re talking about in the rest of it, but those definitely sound like problems that need fixing.

    Thing to note: Pretty much every variation of Sherlock Holmes ever (excluding Elementary due to newness) has much Holmes/Watson fanfic. Psych, which is a creative descendant of Sherlock Holmes? There’s lots of Shawn/Lassiter and not a hell of a lot of Shawn/Gus, even though one would think the Holmes/Watson dynamic would spawn much more fic than the Holmes/cop-who-hates-his-guts dynamic. Gus is black, Shawn and Lassiter white. And any canon that has the buddies vibe that Tony and Rhodey have in Iron Man 1 and 2 ought to be overrun with fic slashing those characters. Nope. Tony gets slashed with Steve or Bruce, apparently on the strength of a few minutes’ interaction with the slashee in The Avengers and whatever the hell’s in the comics that most MCU fans know only through Wikipedia and fannish osmosis. Rhodey of course is black and Tony, Steve, and Bruce all white. MCU Nick Fury gets hardly any love, when, really, it’s Samuel L Jackson, we ought to be all over that.

    I’m not sure what my point was anymore, but I definitely had a point for which this is valuable background information.

  • Paul Durant

    I think “the backstory is kind of a mess now that I come to write it down” is a drastic understatement. That game was bonkers. Like,  the second half was written by an unmedicated schizophrenic who assembled all the plotlines and events in a way that seemed perfectly logical to him, and to no other human being on the planet.

    Also the black cop character was totally useless and eventually just kind of wanders out of the story. What was the deal with that?

  • lofgren

    Well your comment made me laugh out loud, so it seems like a cogent point to me.

    Just a quick rundown of the history of Wakanda:

    Wakanda is a fictional African nation. Sometime in ancient history, a meteor made of highly malleable yet strong metal called vibranium (the stuff that Captain America’s shield is made out of) landed in Wakandan territory. As a result of this, the Wakandans had for more powerful metal tools than their bronze-spear-wielding neighbors. Instead of using those weapons offensively, they followed a doctrine of total isolation. The comics assume that because the Wakandans skipped straight past the bronze age to the vibranium age, the rest of their technological advancement was similarly accelerated along a path similar to what the rest of the world accomplished over the next few thousand years, and beyond. In the modern age, they are super advanced. They have a flourishing space program (which in the Marvel world means direct contact with extraterrestrials), have cured almost all diseases, and most of their population is concentrated in a high tech city that appears to made of nanites. Black Panther is the recipient of their version of the super soldier serum, as well as their king.

    It’s a very cool idea, actually, but it’s the kind of thing that is usually done with Atlantis or some other entirely fictional society that doesn’t mischaracterize any real-world culture. As the primary representative of Africa in the Marvel universe, Wakanda’s presentation seems a little unfair to actual Africans.

  • lofgren

    Oh, and since you are probably not aware, Nick Fury was a white guy for about 40 years. The Marvel universe was revamped around the turn of the century. Already planning the movie franchise at that point, Marvel contracted Samuel L. Jackson’s likeness for the new version of Fury, and part of the deal stipulated that Jackson would play the character in the eventual films.

    It’s not an especially glamorous character. But as roles for minorities in superhero movies go, it’s progress.

  • Ursula L

    As much as I dislike Reagan, if his intention was to end the cold war without causing a  nuclear apocalypse, and he achieved ending the cold war without causing a nuclear apocalypse, I think it may not be entirely valid to take him to task for intent not being magic.

    This presupposes that ending the Cold War was Reagan’s achievement.  As opposed  to the achievement of others, which they managed in spite of his saber-rattling nonsense. 

    Many, many people worked to end the Cold War.  You had Gorbachev’s policies of Perestroika and Glasnost.   

    You had lots of grassroots efforts and cultural contact and understanding.  Choirs and orchestras and dance troupes and theater troupes collaborated internationally, and toured, and did their bit to keep the  face of the enemy fully human. 

    You had lots of people in Western Europe working on the “lets not do that again” post-WWII agenda, which in turn helped ease Russian fears of another attack from Germany.  Very valid fears, given the devastation that WWII brought to the USSR.  Fears that were addressed by keeping Germany divided and the US occupying West Germany, so that the Germans couldn’t do that again.  (Fun fact, one of the conditions the Russians had for leaving East Germany was that the US not leave West Germany.  Because they trusted the US not to let the Germans do that again.   Even if they didn’t quite fully trust the Germans yet.)  

    Closer to the actual end of the Cold War, you had various Eastern European nations acting to open their borders and reform their policies.  You had ordinary Europeans beginning to take advantage of the newly opened borders, and start moving around.  

    And one November night, you had the entire guard force of the Berlin Wall choose to ignore standing orders, and follow rumors of hope, and set aside the fear they’d been trained in.  

    The end of the Cold War was, very much, also the end of WWII in Europe.  With time and a lot of hard work from a lot of people coming to ease the fears that WWII left in its wake.  In particular, Germany’s neighbors having their fears of Germany eased, through time and experience of a different way of Europe working.  


    Intent isn’t magic.  And just because Reagan intended a certain result, and that result eventually happened, doesn’t mean that what he was doing actually helped, rather than hindered, the achieving of that result, when thousands of other people were doing many constructive things towards actually working towards that result.  

  • As I understand it, the primary Nick Fury is still a white guy. The Samuel L Jackson version of Nick Fury is from the Marvel Ultimate Universe, where Spider-Man is a street kid named Miles Morales, Professor X and Wolverine are both dead, Captain America has actual superpowers, and the Avengers are called the “Ultimates” instead.

    Back in the 90s, they made a backdoor pilot movie for a SHIELD series. For Nick Fury, they cast… David Hasselhoff.

  • Closer to the actual end of the Cold War, you had various Eastern
    European nations acting to open their borders and reform their policies.
     You had ordinary Europeans beginning to take advantage of the newly
    opened borders, and start moving around. 

    And a lot of that can be laid at Gorbachev’s feet, for being willing to effectively abandon the Soviet empire in Eastern Europe.

    In point of fact, the collapse of the Soviet Union occurred on Bush I’s watch. How curious that he’s never credited for continuing the diplomatic work that Reagan started to stay in peaceful contact with the Soviets from late 1989 to 1991.

    Oh, but he raised taxes. And threw up on somebody. Can’t have him even being so much as mentioned when St. Morning in America beamed fatuously at the cameras and recited useless homilies while urging that rich people should be given the store.

  • lofgren

    Note: Marvel universes are numbered, with the original universe being 616.

    I would hesitate to call the 616 Nick Fury the “primary” one at this particular juncture. He’s retired and doesn’t have much of a presence in any book anymore. Nick Fury Jr., who is based on the Ultimate Nick Fury, is now the leader of SHIELD, but SHIELD is not quite as significant and powerful in 616 being more of an espionage agency as opposed to the Ultimate SHIELD which is a national defense agency and clearly the model for the movieverse version. Ultimate SHIELD has a significant presence in almost all Ultimate books, Nick Fury has a major presence and a stunning amount of power, was responsible for commissioning many of the experiments that created the non-mutant Ultimate characters, and I believe is more recognizable both to comic and non-comic audiences at this point.

    Which version of each character should be considered the “primary” is of course up for debate. Is it the most recognizable? The most successful? The most modern age appearances? The most sales? Etc.

    But in the specific case of Nick Fury I think it is safe to say that Ultimate Fury has surpassed his predecessor for the moment.

    (Calling Miles Morales a street kid is a little weird. His family isn’t wealthy, but they do have a home, and Miles is a gifted student who attends a private boarding school. If Captain America has super powers beyond 616’s super strength, reflexes, and speed then I missed that development.)

  •  My understanding is that 616’s Captain America’s strength is Considerable But Not Super, whereas Ultimate Captain America is strong enough to do things like punch tanks.

    When I suggsted that Ultimate Nick Fury isn’t the “primary” Nick Fury, what I really mean is that however important he is out of all the Nick Furies there are, the universe he’s in and the superheroes he interacts with are *not* the versions you think of when you think of the Marvel roster of superheroes.

    Just like however important Alan Scott is, when you say “And then Superman and Wonder Woman and the Green Lantern teamed up to fight Lex Luthor”, the Green Lantern in that sentence isn’t Alan Scott.

  • PatBannon

    Black Widow is white.

  • lofgren

    When I suggsted that Ultimate Nick Fury isn’t the “primary” Nick Fury, what I really mean is that however important he is out of all the Nick Furies there are, the universe he’s in and the superheroes he interacts with are *not* the versions you think of when you think of the Marvel roster of superheroes.

    OK, but the movie world is clearly heavily inspired by the Ultimate universe. Ultimate Iron Man, Captain America, and Hulk are all very similar to their 616 counterparts. Aspects of the characters that are different in Ultimates are actually carried over into the movies. So for a lot of people here, those characters ARE the ones that they picture, more so than the originals.

    Since the stories are ongoing, components are fluid. After the success of the Ultimate Captain America, which emphasized his military background, 616 Captain America also started to more strongly resemble a soldier than a super hero, for example by carrying guns and killing enemies as a soldier would rather than knocking everybody unconscious with his shield – although that’s also related to Marvel’s decision to abandon the Comics Code.

    Iron Man’s attitude in the films is more reminiscent of Ultimate Tony than 616 Tony, mostly because 616 Tony went through his transformation back in Vietnam and has now been a “responsible” corporate leader and a super hero for decades. 616 Tony is a binge drinker who gets blackout drunk. Ultimate and Movie Tonys are functional alcoholics.

    Movie Hawkeye does not resemble 616 Hawkeye much at all, but he is very similar to Ultimate Hawkeye. You get the picture.

    Even in the Ultimate ‘verse, Miles Morales is Spider-Man II, Spider-Man I being of course Peter Parker. Other than being a teenager in 2001 instead of 1981 (or whenever the current 616 Parker last had his origin updated to), Peter Parker is recognizably the same character and due to the timeline alone resembles the Peter Parker from the most recent film more than the Parker of 1962 or the current 616 Parker.

    (None of this applies to Ultimate Thor, who emphasizes his lightning powers more than 616 Thor and has a very different personality. Movie Thor is very much the 616 character and bears little resemblance to the Ultimate version.)

    Your mention of Alan Scott is a perfect example. If this was 1955 and you made that statement, then Alan Scott would definitely be the Green Lantern you are talking about. If it was 1975, you’d be talking about Hal Jordan. If it’s 1995, you COULD be talking about any of about five characters, but most people would STILL think you are talking about Hal Jordan because none of those other characters has ever surpassed his popularity.

    In the same way that Hal Jordan has eclipsed Alan Scott, I think it is safe to say that Ultimate Fury has eclipsed 616 Fury in terms of popularity and recognizability, at least for the moment.

  • lofgren

    I believe the point is that Black Widow is a woman.

  • lofgren


    Ultimate Captain America is strong enough to do things like punch tanks.

    That never happened.

  • From (yes, it still exists): 
    Quantum Romneyism: Romney holds a superposition of all political opinions until you observe him, then they collapse based on the audience.

  • Ken

     616, Ultimate, Earth-Prime – call me old-fashioned, but I liked the Silver Age “Continuity Editor? What’s that?” approach, where any writer could do anything in any issue, and everything reset by the next issue – or by the next story in the same issue, sometimes.

    You could do things like have all Earth’s children disappear, or all governments dissolved and replaced with ten Evil Overlords, or nuclear strikes destroy major cities, and two chapters later the characters had all forgotten about it and their most pressing concerns were buying a new car or finding a nicer apartment.

  • depizan

     I felt like it was horribly convenient, which is why I’d rather it was a trick.  It just feels like better storytelling to me that way.  But it’s very definitely a your millage may very type of thing.

    It may simply boil down to how overdone one feels the trope is.  I think the “team that can’t get on bonds over the death of a lesser person” trope is so stale you could use it to hammer nails (pretending for a moment that tropes are slices of bread).  And killing off one of the few non-superheroes to motivate the superheroes irks me because I already have issues with the whole superhero thing.  Granted, Avengers is much, much better than most superhero stuff on that count, what with having three non-powered people on the team.  And in showing off other badass normals in Shield.

    Still, the convenience of it really diminished its impact for me.  (Though so did the fact that Whedon was involved.  I pretty much expect some tragic death if his name is on it.)

  • lofgren

    Although I believe you are thinking of the Golden Age under the Comics Code, when all superhero stories were written for very young children or imbeciles.

  • lofgren

    I think the “team that can’t get on bonds over the death of a lesser person” trope is so stale you could use it to hammer nails (pretending for a moment that tropes are slices of bread).

    I think it’s common because it’s necessary. Not necessarily the team bonding, but something in the story needs to show that despite his power, the hero can’t simply make everything OK. Superhero stories, by their nature, are going to show over and over again a character with inhuman capabilities wading into an impossible situation and walking away unscathed, both spiritually and physically. To counter the impression that putting on a batsuit will allow you to solve all of your problems, Jason Todd has to die, and the hero has to come to terms with that and decide if the mission is still worth pursuing even if those close to him might suffer. Basically, at least once in their story, every hero must confront a grievous failure and make the choice to persevere. Otherwise, he’s just not as much of a hero in my opinion. It’s one thing to be Spider-Man before Gwen Stacy, when it’s all about quipping and adventure. It’s another to be Spider-Man the day after your choice to help others has killed your girlfriend.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Black Widow is white.

    Which invalidates my point that the MCU has not yet had and is not planning any films where the title character is female…how, exactly?

  • depizan

     Hero confronting grievous failure =/= team that can’t get on bonds over the death of a lesser person.

    Not to mention there are lots of ways for a hero to fail.

  • lofgren

     Hero confronting grievous failure =/= team that can’t get on bonds over the death of a lesser person.

    Just because two things are not identical does not mean that one thing cannot be both. Are you saying that you disagree that Coulson’s death serves this function?

    Not to mention there are lots of ways for a hero to fail.

    Well sure. Again, are you asserting that some other event in the movie serves this function?

    I guess what I’m asking is, yeah, so? What’s your point?

  • Newbiedoobiedoo

    As I keep saying, it is only with the understanding that everyone believed that the world was going to end in a nuclear holocaust any minute now that anything in the 1980s makes any sense at all.

    The 1950s had their moments, though. Catch the flicks Panic on the year Zero or Ladybug, ladybug when you get a chance.

  • depizan

    I guess what I’m asking is, yeah, so?  What’s your point?

    I’m not sure why you’re getting snippy about a movie, but my point is: I wish the movie makers had been a bit more creative in how they got the team together.  I feel like the “kill somebody to bring together a group of people who don’t get along” trope is overused.  As I said originally.  Granted, since the team is the Avengers, if names are going to mean anything, I suppose they have to have something to avenge.  It just felt convenient to me.  Obviously, it worked fine for you.  People have different opinions and different tastes.

  • Ethics Gradient

    Not sure where this should go, but since these threads are the go-to place for unbiblical behaviour by Real True Christians, and also possible signs of the apocalypse, this seems as good as any: has anyone, especially Fred, got comments on the trademarking of a public pose of prayer by a millionaire? Could Tim Tebow be an antichrist? Or, La Haye and Jenkins-style, the Antichrist?

  • Tricksterson

    Yes, the Marvel movie universe cherry picks both from the standard universe and from the Ultimate universe.

  • Joshua

    Your post did not make it clear that you were talking about gender as well as race. I was also confused by what you wrote.

  • EllieMurasaki

    …yes, because it is so hard to tell from a graphic that emphasizes the white-male-ness of all the MCU title characters that maleness is important as well as whiteness.

  • Copyright, trademark and patent have officially gone freakin’ haywire. (>_<)B

  • Tricksterson

    Never really cottoned to “Avengers” as a team name.  I always liked the admittedly less popular Marvel superteam, the Defeders.  Not to mention that the Defenders power structure was looser, more democratic nearly to the point of being anarchic.

  • ohiolibrarian

     Frankly, I think we need to just build an alternative economy from the bottom up. If anything is stifling the current one, it’s the excessive reliance on the banking/finance structure. Not to mention the Chamber of Commerce etc. doing everything they can to prevent innovation. F ’em.

  • ohiolibrarian

     Unless you think as I do that the USSR was highly unlikely to have ever used nuclear weapons (unless they faced an actual existential threat like invasion). My reasoning is actually based on their official atheism. The game they were playing (nationalistic rivalry/ideological supremacy) relied on having an audience of humans, because there is no other. To win the game they had to have people to acknowledge them the victor.  Now, Iran makes me nervous. They potentially have Allah as their audience. Same with our Armageddon-crazed RTCs.

    I don’t think Reagan gets any points for “saving” us from a threat that didn’t really exist in the first place any more than Saddam Hussein was a threat to the US.

  • ohiolibrarian

     How do you trademark such a common pose? And SURE he didn’t trademark it for profit … uh huh.

  • I’ve seen ‘Panic in the Year Zero’. The fifties did have their moments, though I still think on balance, the fifties were largely in denial about the threat of nuclear war. I’m always brought to mind of the 50s “Can you survive the atom bomb?” movies which depicted nuclear was as Very Serious But Totes Survivable So Long As You Listen To Authority Figures and close the windows.

    I would have to look at it in a lot more detail than I have, but I sort of suspect one could map the Kubler-Ross model to the cold war. Assume the nuclear age was, in essence, the earth being diagnosed with a terminal illness. The fifties are Denial, then the tumult and social upheval of the 60s and early 70s were Anger and Bargaining, giving way to depression and eventually acceptance in the eighties taking the form of people doing a whole lot of Living For Today while there was still time.

  • Lori


      How do you trademark such a common pose? 

    In a sane world you would not be able to.


    And SURE he didn’t trademark it for profit … uh huh.   

    I think this article makes a good case that Tebow isn’t in it for the money. It’s way worse than that–he’s in it for the control.

  • Lori


    I’m always brought to mind of the 50s “Can you survive the atom bomb?”
    movies which depicted nuclear was as Very Serious But Totes Survivable
    So Long As You Listen To Authority Figures and close the windows.  

    Those films weren’t really addressing the survivability of nuclear war though, they were aimed directly at changing social mores. For example, check out the one about how a clean house is more likely to survive a nuclear blast. That’s technically true, totally irrelevant to the issue of nuclear war and completely relevant to the issue of the role of women in the family and society post-Rosie the Riveter.

  • Madhabmatics

     Morbius the Living Vampire + Blade team up movie. Get Wesley Snipes on the phone.

  • ohiolibrarian

    We’ll see whether Tebow sends ‘cease & desist’ letters or tries to collect damages to see his motivation. But … what was the patent office thinking to award it? We really need to reform patent law to stop this kind of crap.