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The Marvel Cinematic Universe

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Emily Waller

on 27 April 2015

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Transcript of The Marvel Cinematic Universe

The Marvel Cinematic Universe

Dr. Robert "Bruce" Banner was born to an alcoholic
atomic physicist named Dr. Brian Banner
and his wife Rebecca in 1969. After his
father killed his mother in a drunken
rage, he lived with his aunt and attended Harvard, where he met Betty Ross and struck up a romance. Banner became a leading expert in gamma radiation, and in 2006 Betty's father General Ross enlisted him in an experiment to recreate the supersoldier serum used on Steve Rogers during WWII. While testing the experiment on himself, he accidentally manipulated his cells with gamma radiation and developed a violent, indestructible alter ego known as the Hulk. When General Ross attempted to capture and dissect Banner to harvest the power of the Hulk, Banner went on the run from the government and the US Army for many years before he was discovered in Calcutta by Agent Romanoff, AKA Black Widow, and recruited to the Avengers Initiative.
Captain Steven "Steve" Grant Rogers is the only living, successful test subject of the Super Soldier Serum developed by Abraham Erskine during WWII. Rogers was born in 1918 and raised by his mother Sarah until she died of tuberculosis. He was a small, sickly individual but made up for it with resilience and courage. Dr. Erskine selected Rogers for Project Rebirth because he admired Steve's spirit and tenacity, shown when he attempted to join the US Army five separate times. The results of Project Rebirth led Rogers to possess remarkable strength, speed, agility, stamina/endurance, reflexes, durability, and extraordinary regenerative capabilities. The patriotic super solider was given the title of Captain America and fought against the Nazis and their associated terror group, HYDRA, during World War II. Rogers was frozen in 1945 while facing off against Hydra and its leader Johann Schmidt for nearly 70 years and awoke in the 21st century, where he joined the Avengers as their team leader. After the Battle of New York, Rogers became a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent.
Captain America and Ethics
Captain America is the perfect example of a moral exemplar. He was chosen by Erskine for the worthy qualities that he displayed; these include selflessness, resiliency, and bravery, to name a few. What is most significant about these traits is that Steve showed them even when he considered himself a nobody.He was used during WWII as a morale booster for the troops, because he symbolized everything that was good about America.

There are many instances in which Captain America displays that he is a virtuous person; but one in particular that stands out is his fight with the Winter Soldier. While fighting the Winter Soldier, Captain America makes the startling discovery that the assassin is really his supposedly deceased best friend, Bucky Barnes. It does not take long for Rogers to realize that his friend has been completely brainwashed by HYDRA, and the chances of saving him are slim. Being virtuous, Captain America confronts Bucky in battle again and says to him,
"People are going to die, Buck. I can't let that happen. Please don't make me do this."
Rogers does not want to fight his best friend, but he knows that he has to because if he doesn't, many of people will die.

Captain America also represents Deontological values in
The Winter Soldier
. Rogers discovers that S.H.I.E.L.D. has created Helicarriers with the plan of targeting anyone that could be a potential threat; this causes him to have serious moral doubts about S.H.I.E.L.D.'s intentions. From a Deontological standpoint, Captain America cannot justify and see any ethical basis in the act of targeting and killing innocent people just because they may prove to be an inconvenience to S.H.I.E.L.D. later on. Rogers and Natasha later learn that HYDRA has infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D., and is using their access to the Helicarriers as a means of blowing up anyone that could stand in the way of HYDRA.
Anthony "Tony" Edward Stark was born in 1970 to his mother, Maria Stark, and his father, Howard Stark. During his childhood his father was absent and neglectful to his genius son. At age four Tony built his first circuit board, and at age six he constructed his first engine. At seventeen he graduated summa cum laude from MIT. Tony's parents died when he was 19, leaving him the CEO of his father's business, Stark Enterprises. While he was on a business trip in Afghanistan to show off a new weapon called the "Jericho", his convoy was attacked by terrorists and one of his company's bombs went off near him. He ended up with several pieces of shrapnel lodged in his chest and had to be hooked up to a car battery, which kept the shards from entering his heart. With the help of Dr. Ho Yinsen, a fellow scientist held captive, he created an armored suit out of his missiles and escaped from the terrorist compound. Later, he would create a more advanced model of the suit and become the superhero known as Iron Man.
Iron Man and Ethics
Dr. Banner vs. The Hulk
The Hulk has been described several times as the "Jekyll" to Dr. Banner's Mr. Hyde. The Hulk seems to operate on base emotions only and is filled with one desire: to protect his creator. This includes taking out anyone who angers or threatens Banner, no matter if they are ally or enemy. An example of this is shown in the
, when Banner first turns into the Hulk while on board the Helicarrier. Banner was already angry at Natasha Romanoff for forcing him into the Avengers and at Director Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. for lying to him about the full details of Phase 2. That combined with the threat of Loki invading the Helicarrier was enough to unleash the Hulk, who then attacked Natasha and Thor in a blind rage to defend Dr. Banner from all threats. Later, it is shown that Banner can control the Hulk to some extent when the Chitauri attack and Banner controls his rage to fight the Chitauri and Loki only.

While in his human form, Dr. Banner seems to display more utilitarian ethics, as he is willing to sacrifice his own well-being and morality for the sake of the greater good. During
The Incredible Hulk
, Banner is shown to be on the run from the US Government and the Army as he knows that the power of the Hulk cannot be contained or controlled. He lives as a fugitive, isolated from as much of the world as possible, in order to protect it from the manic beast that lives inside of him. Dr. Banner is also a virtuous character in his human form, and displays calm and intellect whenever possible, including when Dr. Samuel Sterns attempts to use his blood as a serum to increase human intellect and evolution. When Banner tries to convince him that the Hulk's power could do more damage than good, he is attacked by General Ross but manages to control the Hulk. However, he is also incontinent as he often gives in to his anger and transforms into the Hulk, who is more of a vicious character.
"I can't control it... But maybe it could guide it, aim it in the right direction."
Thor was born to parents Odin and Gaea in Norway in ages ago. Odin brought Thor back to Asgard to be raised by himself and his wife, Frigga. Thor also had an adopted brother, named Loki. Loki spent his childhood jealous of Thor, because Thor was Odin’s favorite of the two. Odin created Thor’s famous hammer, named Mjolnir, on Thor’s 8th birthday. Odin declared that Mjolnir would only be given to Thor when Thor proves himself a worthy warrior. At age 16, Thor was finally given Mjolnir and declared Asgard’s best warrior. Years later, Thor was sent to Earth to learn humility by Odin. When he landed on Earth, Thor met Jane, who he falls in love with. After saving Earth from one of Loki’s plans, Thor goes back to Asgard. Not long after, Loki once again attacks the Earth. At this point, Thor teams up with the Avengers to stop Loki and save Earth. He becomes an Avenger and makes it his duty to defend Earth.
Iron Man has always been though of as a great hero who does whatever he can for the good of others. However, when things like this are said his vices are not brought to light. He is an alcoholic, is very cocky and is called a "textbook narcissist". He often sees himself as better than others because of the power the title Iron Man has given him. At the same time he has many virtues. He would do anything to save the population, shown when he is willing to fly the nuclear missile into the portal to space in the
. He is also unafraid and courageous, as shown when he faces off against Loki in Stark Tower and tells him
"If we can't protect the Earth, you can be damned well sure we'll avenge it."
He uses his time to work to make the city a better place by creating new technology and energy-efficient power. Taking into consideration that Iron Man has many vices and virtues he fits under the ethical theory of virtue ethics. Iron Man possesses qualities that are both virtues and vices. Along with just fitting under virtue ethics he also would be considered a utilitarian. He makes his decisions based on what would do the most good for largest population, shown in
Iron Man 3
when he uses his brain to save the dozen passengers that fell out of Air Force One during a Mandarin attack, as well as when he gives up his weapons manufacturing in
Iron Man
because he knew they were being used for evil rather than good, even though it caused his stock to drop.
Thor and Ethics
The Fall of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Social Contract Failure
S.H.I.E.L.D., or the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division, was founded after World War II by Howard Stark, Colonel Chester Phillips, and Peggy Carter as a militaristic, counter-terrorist and intelligence agency for the United States government. Its primary purpose was to protect the United States and later the rest of the world from any and all possible threats of terrorism or violence deemed too severe or extreme for other government organizations to handle. Eventually Director Nick Fury took over the organization and, along with the World Security Council and other important political figures, began organizing the Avengers as a group of "remarkable people" whose job was to fight against villains and other acts of evil that normal agencies could not fight.

Sometime after World War II, S.H.I.E.L.D was infiltrated by a former Nazi organization known as HYDRA. HYDRA was created during World War II by Johann Schmidt, and its purpose was to create advanced military weapons with the ultimate goal of world domination. Schmidt's right-hand man, Dr. Armin Zola, was recruited after the war by S.H.I.E.L.D. to continue his research in weapons design, but instead rebuilt HYDRA inside S.H.I.E.L.D. for decades. Alexander Pierce eventually rose up in the ranks of HYDRA and planned to use S.H.I.E.L.D.'s own weapons, primarily the Helicarriers they had designed to eliminate potential threats, to wipe out enemies against HYDRA in order to take over the world.

S.H.I.E.L.D. failed in its social contract with the United States and with the rest of the world when it allowed HYDRA to infiltrate its ranks secretly. Even though it was created as a way to protect the citizens of the United States, it became a militaristic organization that inspired fear more than personal sense of security and freedom. By creating the Helicarriers, which were designed with a program to target and eliminate potential threats before they even occurred, S.H.I.E.L.D. put innocent lives in danger and risked the possibility that they could kill someone that turned out to be harmless. After HYDRA took over the organization, it was revealed that their plan was to kill any enemies or possible future enemies of HYDRA, including Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, and Stephen Strange, as well as "a TV reporter in Cairo" and "a high school valedictorian in Iowa".
Thor and Loki tend to be the counterparts to one another. When looking at virtue ethics, Thor is the continent brother, while Loki is the vicious brother. Once Thor realizes that Loki is trying to conquer Earth in the
, he comes down from Asgard, swallows some of his pride, and teams up with the Avengers to save the world from Loki. Although Thor loves his brother, he knows that defeating his brother is for the greater good. The continuous action of Loki lying to the people around him and trying to take over the world and Thor saving the world from eminent disaster is common throughout both
Thor: Dark World
. The fact that Loki continues the same vicious actions repeatedly with no remorse shows he is a vicious character, while Thor putting his own vices to the side to save Earth is a continent and Utilitarianist action.

Thor has a very utilitarian view of the world. In the beginning, Thor is Asgard’s best warrior and was in many battles over the millenniums, placing his life on the line over and over again to save his world, Thor believes that it his duty to protect and save Earth from any danger, as shown when he tells Loki:
"So you take the world I love as recompense for your imagined slights? No, the Earth is under my protection, Loki!"
This belief begins in
, when he first saves himself, Asgard, and Earth from one of Loki’s vicious plans. From that point on, Thor starts to see himself as Earth’s guardian. In the
, Thor puts his familial love for his brother to the side and decides that defeating him will bring the least amount of suffering to the people of Earth. In
Thor: Dark World,
Thor gives up a chance for the throne of Asgard because he believes that his duty is now more focused on Earth and that ruling in Asgard would not be beneficial for either world in the long run.
Director Fury and Agent Coulson
Natalia "Natasha" Romanoff was was born in Stalingrad, Russia and orphaned as a small child. She was found and brought up by the Russian KGB, a top-secret spy organization founded by the Soviet Union. Natasha was admitted into the Black Widow Program, which brainwashed and trained young girls to become cold, ruthless assassins in a secret facility known as the Red Room. She became a top spy and assassin for the KGB. Eventually she became a prime target under the orders of S.H.I.E.L.D. and was hunted down by S.H.I.E.L.D. military spy Clint Barton, AKA Hawkeye. Barton developed a respect for the assassin and, rather than assassinating her as he was ordered, made a different call and brought her on as an asset to S.H.I.E.L.D.

Clinton "Clint" Barton was born in Waverly, Iowa to an alcoholic and abusive father. When both his parents died in a car crash due to his father's drunken behavior, Clint and his brother Barney were sent to several foster homes before running away to join a traveling circus. While performing there, Clint was trained by expert marksman Trick Shot in archery and became a master bowman and marksman. After he had a falling out with his former master and older brother, Barton set out on his own as an individual performer in various circuses and carnivals. Eventually S.H.I.E.L.D. discovered him performing as "The Amazing Hawkeye" and recruited him as a spy for their agency, where he worked for several years. At one point he was sent to kill Natasha Romanoff, AKA Black Widow, but instead recruited her to S.H.I.E.L.D. as a fellow spy.
S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Top Spies and Ethics
Black Widow is caught in between her past of the cold Russian assassin working for the KGB, and her newfound life with S.H.I.E.l.D. She has newly found ethics and has almost completely changed her moral compass. In a scene in the
, Hawkeye is discussing his time as a slave for Loki and says:
"Have you ever had someone take your brain and play? Take you out and stuff something else in? You know what it's like to be unmade?"
Natasha replies that she does know that feeling, from her time as a KGB spy. She is no longer the person she was before she was brought to S.H.I.E.L.D. but she will never fully let go of what she has done. She will never fully forgive herself. This relates to virtue ethics because she went from having no morals to having them and leading a completely different life.

Captain America: the Winter Soldier
, Black Widow almost blows the mission, which is to rescue several hostages, instead to retrieve vital information that could potentially save the world population. This is Utilitarianism because Black Widow chooses to retrieve the information that could save millions instead of save a few hostages on board the ship. She is thinking about what is best for everyone instead of those few.

Hawkeye is shown to struggle with the decisions that were forcibly taken from him during the
when Loki took over his body. It is obvious that he feels guilt over what he did and the destruction he caused, which shows some virtuous themes. We also know that Hawkeye was sent originally to assassinate Black Widow but instead made another call and brought her in to become a spy for S.H.I.E.L.D. This is almost deontological in theory because it shows that Barton is at the very least hesitant to take a life when it is unnecessary.
Director Fury is a utilitarian due to his willingness to do anything and everything to help the greatest amount of people possible. This is shown several times and can be interpreted as almost cruel, but strangely effective. For example, after Agent Coulson "dies" in the
, Fury makes the decision to inform the team with Coulson's blood splattered Captain America cards in order to rally the team and to give them something to avenge, even though we later discover that the cards were in Coulson's locker and Coulson is not, in fact, dead. However, Fury is also willing to take down a military fighter jet and defy direct orders from his superiors in order to prevent a missile from being launched at Manhattan. We also see Fury prove his cold effectiveness in
Captain America: the Winter Soldier
, when Fury is willing to launch several Helicarriers that have the ability to eliminate threats before the threats can even occur. This may kill innocents and instill fear in civilians, but Fury believes that it is necessary because it could save billions of lives overall.

Agent Phil Coulson bears some utilitarian morals, clearly shown by the fact that he willingly works for a secret government agency under the command of Director Fury, but he is also a virtuous character. After his faked death in the Avengers, Agent Coulson goes on to lead his own team in the TV show
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D
., where he trains several young agents to work together while simultaneously fighting villains and crime across the country. Though Coulson struggles with the fact that he was brought back to life without his consent and in a secretive, unethical way, he still maintains his ethics and continues to do good for his country.
Captain America (Steven Rogers). (n.d.). Retrieved April 20, 2015, from http://marvel.wikia.com/Captain_America_(Steven_Rogers)
The Avengers
[Motion picture on DVD]. (2012). United States: Walt Disney Studio Pictures.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
[Motion picture on DVD]. (2014). Marvel. United States: Walt Disney Studio Pictures.

Iron Man 3
[Motion picture on DVD]. (2013). Marvel. United States: Walt Disney Studio Pictures.

Thor: The Dark World
[Motion picture on DVD]. (2014). Marvel. United States: Walt Disney Studio Pictures.

White, M. (2012).
The Avengers and philosophy: Earth's mightiest thinkers
. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.

Black Widow (Natasha Romanova). (n.d.). Retrieved April 21, 2015, from http://marvel.com/universe/Black_Widow_(Natasha_Romanova)

Clinton Barton (Earth-616). (n.d.). Retrieved April 21, 2015, from http://marvel.wikia.com/Clinton_Barton_(Earth-616)

S.H.I.E.L.D. (n.d.). Retrieved April 24, 2015, from http://marvelcinematicuniverse.wikia.com/wiki/S.H.I.E.L.D.
The A-Force
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