The Six Things Every MCU Superhero Has In Common

Iron Man 2 - Iron Man and Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts


Are you a good guy who could nonetheless stand to be a "good-er" guy? Do you have a female friend or colleague who may or may not also be your former, current or prospective love-interest? Is she smarter than you? More mature and/or experienced? Literally or figuratively your superior? Is she, perhaps, in many ways substantively more qualified to do either your superhero job, your civilian job, or both of your jobs than you are? Despite this, is she overwhelmingly nurturing and supportive of your development into a True Hero to an all-but explicitly maternal degree? Have you developed a potent, guilt-stricken inferiority complex about this that becomes a big part of what drives you to superhero self-actualization? Well, then it is very possible that you are, in fact, a Marvel Cinematic Universe superhero (if all of the above apply and you also happen to be a white guy named Chris, you may want to double-check with Kevin Feige that he doesn't owe you a bunch of paychecks...)

Descending in an unbroken lineage from Iron Man's Pepper Potts (who's better at running Stark Industries than Stark is and, while also being his "grown-up" girlfriend, expresses her love via a mix of nurture and discipline that can only accurately be described in terms of surrogate-mothering); Peggy Carter, Jane Foster, Hope Van Dyne, Christine Palmer, Gamora, Nakia and many others all have in common the occasionally thankless task of providing emotional (though not always explicitly "romantic" support) to male heroes whose jobs they could probably do as well or better but aren't because... reasons.

Related: Tessa Thompson Says Marvel Is ‘Interested’ In An All-Female Movie

Agent Carter never stops pushing Captain America to do better. Jane humbles The Mighty Thor as even Odin can't. Dr. Palmer already has the humility Doctor Strange needs an entire magic school to learn. T'Challa has to lose and regain his life, powers, kingdom and mantle of Black Panther itself in order to adopt the ideological view that Nakia is already spelling out for him as early as Act I. That Hope clearly should've been the new Ant-(Wo)Man instead of Scott Lang is a running joke and central plot element in their film itself, while even Gamora - easily the least mature or "together" woman in this particular lineup - is at least functioning at the emotional level of a teenager compared to Peter "Star-Lord" Quill, whose personality is fixed all-but permanently around age 7. Marvel Men desire girlfriends but need moms, and their stories tend to provide them in the same character... though, thankfully, thus far only in the metaphorical/surrogate sense.

On the other hand, is there a modern filmmaking entity that loves the Oedipus Complex as a character/relationship trait more than Marvel Studios? Metaphor or not, figurative starts to look increasingly literal when it becomes this overwhelmingly omnipresent: In Spider-Man: Homecoming, Peter Parker not only has two potential love-interests who spur him to heroism while also being more mature, worldly, sensible and constantly calling him out on his bad decisions (three, if you count "Karen," the female-voiced A.I. that lives in his Stark-brand Spidey-Suit that literally locks off certain weapons/abilities until he grows up into them); the film also reimagines his "official" surrogate mother-figure Aunt May - defined for 50 years of prior characterizations as an elderly grandma type - as the immortally-sexy Marissa Tomei... a change that mostly generates scenes where other characters make Peter uncomfortable by pointing out that she's "hot."

And let's not get started on Black Widow's ability to soothe The Hulk back into Bruce Banner (her would-be partner, at this point) in Age of Ultron by literally telling him bedtime stories. Bottom line: MCU heroes have "a lot to work out" about parents - see also...

Key Release Dates
  • Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 (2018) release date: Apr 27, 2018
  • Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
  • The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
  • Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018
  • Venom (2018) release date: Oct 05, 2018
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019
  • Silver and Black release date:
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 release date:
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