I’m not really one for New Year’s resolutions to begin with, and I’m especially not particularly interested in New Year’s Resolutions in mid-January, but I’ve been thinking about them a fair amount anyway. By this time of the month, a New Year’s resolution has probably already been abandoned (I mean, it’s been, like, two weeks. How can I be expected to maintain that?) or it’s about to merge itself into your day-to-day life in such a way that it doesn’t feel like a novelty anymore. I didn’t actually come up with any New Year’s resolutions this year (a quick and easy way to avoid failure and disappointment, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t look toward ideals that will make me, if not a better person, at least a person who better prioritizes things that matter. Fortunately, I have been watching a ton of movies lately with plenty of role models, both good and bad.
Over the last few months, my wife and I have been re-watching through the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. So, with these movies and characters fresh in my mind, here are some character goals to make myself a better Avenger.
Black Panther: Sometimes you have to change. It’s easy to stay static. Wakanda’s leaders—T’Challa included—have stayed complacent for generations, and avoided contact with the outside world (including contact that would have been beneficial to that outside world). But after ignoring advice from Nakia that Wakanda should reach out to help others, he eventually realizes (especially after losing everything to Killmonger) that the world, despite the risks to Wakanda, would be a better place with its involvement. It’s difficult to resist the status quo, but it’s something we should certainly strive for. T’Challa shows us both the understandable resistance and the need to do it anyway.
Iron Man: Character matters. I’m not a billionaire playboy genius (don’t worry, I’m okay with that), but Tony Stark only becomes a hero when he realizes that he has more to offer than his biography and his father’s legacy. No matter what other people think of us, we can strive to be more. He doesn’t completely lose that outward image that he possessed before he became a hero, but the person inside becomes someone who genuinely cares about what he can contribute to the world.
Black Widow: You are what you what you choose to be. One of the most interesting things about Natasha as a character is her longstanding struggle to reconcile her past with who she wants to be. Letting go of the past is never easy, but people can evolve. She shows us that. No matter what society’s expectations were for her, she made a choice to be better. That’s something to strive for, no matter how much simpler our life situations.
Hawkeye: Family is what is worth fighting for. Sure, the world’s greatest marksman (at least in the MCU) is a hero who makes himself much more valuable in a fight than you’d expect him to be, but what sets Clint Barton apart is his family life. He’s one of the only heroes we see with a family, and certainly the only hero who has maintained a healthy and seemingly successful marriage and family despite his rather dangerous and stressful profession. Life can seem pretty complicated for us even when we’re not fighting off an invading Chitauri army with a bow and arrow. For Clint, it’s pivotal to maintain both parts of his life and, clearly, it makes him both a better father/husband and a better Avenger.