In DepthColumnsMarvel's Avengers: Lessons for Ghanaian politics


Posted on Wednesday, 09 May 2012 01:01

Marvel's Avengers: Lessons for Ghanaian politics

William Manful

The summer blockbuster Marvel's Avengers opened to record numbers in the United States and around the world. With an opening gross in excess of 200 million dollars, the mega hit recorded the highest opening ever for a three day weekend putting the film on course to make in excess of 700 million dollars in US box office receipts alone. A figure that can only be matched by James Cameron's Avatar, which made roughly $750 million in North American theaters.

So far Hollywood's attempt to frolic in the marvel world of comic book super hero fantasies has been met with inordinate success. Since the release of X-MEN in 2000, which actually got the ball rolling, every marvel comic book hero who has been incarnated on the silver screens has gone on to generate enough box office dollars to merit a sequel.

Truth be told, the film community is to be commended for its take on the comic book franchise, which hitherto was seen as an exclusive province for adolescents and youngsters. The narrative process, as well as the back stories assigned to the celebrated superheroes, speaks to a mature audience as well.

The latest outing for instance which brings together an impressive cast good enough to bring any Shakespearean play to life on stage features Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner and Mark Ruffalo. So the superheroes are played on screen by seasoned actors who give us reasons to cheer with or without their colorful heroic costumes on. Invariably what the viewers get are characters with special abilities encased in human attributes such as inflamed egos, compassion, love, greed, wickedness, corruption and many other traits normally identified with the mortal kind.

The assembly of the planet's most awesome superheroes presents a challenge that can be identified in any human gathering. Tension and conflict due to personality clashes as well as differing opinions on how to save the world make it exceedingly difficult for a collection of special beings to work together efficaciously.

With an impending alien invasion summoned by the menacing Loki who is also the evil adopted brother of demi-god, Thor, the Avengers are compelled to set their differences aside in order to save the world. The fact that the tale of surreal beings is told in such a believable and relatable fashion makes them worthy of a grand audience that must even include the likes of politicians and policymakers.

As a country like Ghana prepares for a hotly contested presidential election, different political parties in the country are clamoring for power raising tension and causing some level of panic within the general population.

The lesson to be drawn from our gallant superheroes who manage to come together to fight off an enemy threatening the security of the planet is that, firstly the judicious use of power is informed largely by compassion and a certain amount of love for humanity. The propensity to abuse it however, renders the mighty person into an evil grotesque like the villain Loki who wants to rule even if it comes at the expense of an entire planet and its inhabitants.

Secondly, a difference in style and operational methods does not preclude the capacity to work together as a unit.

The story of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hulk, Hawkeye, Black Widow learning to save the world by agreeing to work together could be an allegory for conflicting political entities coming together to address the needs of one nation. Tension is no longer palpable when differences are set aside to forge a common destiny for a common people.

There is no reason why the prospective winner of the upcoming elections in Ghana cannot form a government with members of the opposing party proving that what matters most is attending to the problems that make life unbearable for most Ghanaians. Like our intrepid superheroes, our politicians face enemies too.

Only theirs do not take the form of ghastly aliens from outer space but rather carry the odious tags of poverty, unemployment, disease, famine, illiteracy, and corruption. To eliminate this breed of existential threats to the folk in Ghana especially, our heroes masquerading as politicians must learn to work together and set aside their differences for the sake of the people.

William Manful

William Manful

William Manful is a human rights advocate committed to the democratization of Africa. He has worked as a contributing columnist for afrik- and talkafrique. He holds degrees in french and spanish as well as international relations from the University of Cambridge. Mr manful also writes on philosophy, sports and cinema. He is currently working for the Government of Ghana.


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