Politics and ‘The Avengers:’ If Iron Man is Libertarian, what’s The Hulk?

Politics and ‘The Avengers:’ If Iron Man is Libertarian, what’s The Hulk? May 7, 2012

Can the Avengers, lords of the boxoffice, show us the way to getting along a little better? Sometimes it takes a Superheroic effort to cut through the election year noise.

Let’s break this down, shall we?

Iron Man the Capitalist

A capitalist’s capitalist, Tony Stark (aka Iron Man) could not be more unapologetic about  his success and his desire to make money. He doesn’t necessarily want to tell you how to live your life, and doesn’t want you to tell him either, but he cherishes the freedom to prosper and play, kind of like the old pursuit of happiness line. He’s pretty much a libertarian.

Photos: Robert Downey Jr. As Iron Man, Steve Jobs

Banner aka The Hulk the Progressive

When we meet Dr. Banner (aka The Hulk), he’s providing medical care to the extremely impoverished in slums somewhere in India. He is vitally aware of the danger and volatility of violence and eschews it completely. Better than anyone, he knows how a little anger and violence can get out of control. Can we say hippy- dippy?

Photos: Mark Ruffalo as Dr. Banner, Jon Stewart

Captain Amercia the Conservative

Captian America, well, he’s old school. Literally. Transported from the 1940s, he believes in country, sacrifice, and the American way. He’s a traditionalist in every sense of the word. He believes in one God, the Christian God, presumably. One pictures him probably 1940s style Episcopal, before they got all hippy too. In his mind, there’s a right way and a wrong way and, sadly, America’s changed a lot since his day. One thing is for sure: His stars and stripes don’t run.

Photos: Chris Evans as Captain America, Sean Hannity

Thor the Immigrant

Thor, well, he’s not from around here. First of all, he doesn’t buy into that one god thing. After all, he is a god, and not the one the good Captain means. He’s from a foreign land where things are done differently. He even talks funny. Some very basic things don’t translate well, like sarcasm or what it’s like at home. He’s an immigrant.

Photos: Chris Hemsworth as Thor, a Sikh-American

Black Widow the Post-Feminist

Black Widow (Scarlett Johannson), she’s both an immigrant from some Russian roots and a woman. She’s pretty post-feminist. She knows what she’s good at (persuading people to do things they don’t want to do) and what she’s not (beating people like the Hulk in a physical contest). She works hard, fights hard, and keeps a mental ledger of whom she owes and who owes her. She doesn’t ask special favors, but she doesn’t give any away either.

Photos: Scarlett Johannson as Black Widow, Carly Fiorina, CEO of HP

Hawkeye the Millennial

Hawkeye, he’s the new kid. We don’t know much about him. He hasn’t figured it out himself yet. He even gets sucked in by Loki’s mesmerizing charm, but comes around in the end. One thing he does know. He wants to make a difference. That’s why he signed up  to work with S.H.I.E.L.D. He’s Gen Y. The future is yet to be seen.

Photos: Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, soldiers in Afghanistan

Nick Fury the Survivor

Finally, we have Nick Fury, the leader of the troop. In the comics, he’s a World War II veteran as well (in some versions World War I), whose anti-aging serum gives him long life. Unlike the original comic character, who was white, he is African-American. For all African-Americans, he says hey, we’ve been here all along, contributing to this country.

Photos: Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, George Hickman, one of the Tuskegee Airmen

These seven heroes with widely ranging beliefs. They probably would not all vote the same way. They might not even get along at a party (in fact, they don’t get along in entertaining and spectacular ways in the movie).

But they have a few things in common: A abiding respect for human life, a love of freedom, and a willingness to sacrifice themselves for those beliefs.

Sometimes, that’s all it takes.

Pluralism. It’s a beautiful thing.


For more, read our Avengers review.

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4 responses to “Politics and ‘The Avengers:’ If Iron Man is Libertarian, what’s The Hulk?”

  1. Don’t be so quick to anoint Stark as a libertarian. Remember, he was one of the major proponents of the superhero registration act during the Civil War.

  2. I believe Captain America is a Libertarian. Which was shown in Civil War but I believe it will also be shown in the newest movie, “Winter Soldier”. Stark seems pretty Anarchist to me.

  3. Although taking into consideration Stark’s proponent of superheor registration he could swing into being a Centrist.

  4. ” This isn’t Freedom; it’s fear.” – Captain America I dare say that Captain America is the clear libertarian here.