This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Youth Ki Awaaz. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

After ‘Avengers: Age Of Ultron’, We Really Don’t Need Another Hero

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

By Alastair Blanshard, The University of Queensland:

There was a time when we used to worry about how the world began. Few debates were as furious as the argument over whether it was God or the Big Bang that we should thank for creation. These days we only seem to care about how the world will end.

The flames are hotter and the snow is colder in Avengers: Age of Ultron.  © Marvel
The flames are hotter and the snow is colder in Avengers: Age of Ultron. © Marvel

The potential causes for our demise are numerous. Global warming, viral pandemic, zombie apocalypse. Or, as the latest episode in the Marvel Avengers franchise would have it, our greatest threat comes from psychotic robots with faulty programming. The Millennium Bug is back, only this time it’s armed with pulsar cannons.

Under the direction of Joss Whedon, Avengers: Age of Ultron – which opens today – reunites Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, Hawkeye, and Black Widow to fight against a rogue Artificial Intelligence called Ultron. The action is fast-paced, but the title feels like a misnomer.

Although it is difficult to work out the actual length of events, partly because the film is in love with slow-motion cinematography, the “age” of Ultron can’t have lasted longer than a couple of weeks in real time. Still with a running time of two hours and 22 minutes, audiences will be grateful that the rule of Ultron wasn’t longer.

Avengers: Age of Ultron. © Marvel

The length of the film is a response to the needs of juggling so many characters. In addition to all of the Avengers, the film introduces a pair of twins, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. The boy, Quicksilver, has the power of superhuman speed and the girl, Scarlet Witch, gets practically every other superpower that’s left. It is a good thing that Quicksilver never stops running, because if he paused to think, he might develop a severe case of sibling envy.

Just when you think the Scarlet Witch has shown all that she can do, she pulls out another trick. As if this cast size wasn’t large enough, three-quarters of the way through the film another major character emerges. In this case, quite literally Deus ex Machina, God from a Machine.

Too many heroes

Ensemble casts are difficult. It is hard to balance so many competing points of focus. From the earliest Greek myths, we have traditionally preferred our heroes as solitary figures. One of the epithets for Hercules was “monoikos”, “the one who lives alone”. The modern town of Monaco takes its name from a local cult to this aspect of Hercules.

We love stories with a central hero. Achilles gets star billing in the Iliad. Similarly Odysseus in the Odyssey. In the ancient world, only the story of Jason and the Golden Fleece involved a team of heroes, and it is perhaps no accident that the retelling of their exploits, the Argonautica, has proven to be history’s least favourite epic.

Complicating the problem of ensuring that every hero gets a fair share of screentime is the requirement that every hero now needs a fatal flaw and a tragic backstory. These golden boys and girls all have feet of clay.

The trend for the tormented hero has been growing ever since 19th-century Romanticism taught us that there was something heroic about suffering. The Greeks would not have understood it. All they demanded from their heroes was the ability to be spectacular.

Now, we require our heroes to be haunted by their past or terrified by their future. We love to watch a set of rippling muscles, but we demand that the heart they encase is fragile. If you’re going to be a super-soldier, you also need to be a wallflower at the Victory Day dance.

All action in Avengers: Age of Ultron. © Marvel

Ultron wants to destroy the Avengers because he regards them as a danger to stability and growth. It is hard not to have sympathy with his logic. Golf has been described as a game in which people try to get a ball in a hole using implements ill-adapted for the purpose. Watching the Avengers achieve world peace feels a lot like watching a round of golf.

Equipped with razor-sharp throwing-shields, exploding arrows, and the ability to command lightening bolts, the Avengers make odd advocates for tranquillity. The movie transports our heroes around the world leaving mayhem in their wake. Just when you thought downtown traffic in Johannesburg couldn’t get any worse, along comes the Hulk.

The superheroes we need

Ultron sees the Avengers as emblematic of the worst excesses of humanities desires and, in a sense, he’s right. If we really do lust after world peace, why aren’t we inventing heroes with the superpower to erase the gap between rich and poor or, at the very least, get Google to pay tax?

Iron Man can scatter the earth with incendiary devices, but he can’t compulsorily vaccinate children. In the movie, the Scarlet Witch has been genetically enhanced so that she can mess with people’s minds. Why don’t geneticists ever work on enhancing the ability to make people feel comfortable about their lifestyle choices?

Perhaps this is the real appeal of heroes. They provide us with an enjoyable sound-and-light show that distracts us from facing up to just how hard it is to make a real difference.

The ConversationThis article was originally published on The ConversationRead the original article.

You must be to comment.
  1. Subhrangshu Purakayastha

    Illiad is hardly just about Achilles.

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By Ananya Bhuyan

By Shabeena Anjum

By Arya Jha

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below