During the 2020 Election season, cast and crew of Avengers: Endgame hosted a Joe Biden and Kamala Harris Fundraiser. This included Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Paul Rudd, Don Cheadle, and Zoe Saldana, some of Earth's Mightiest Heroes. This fundraiser grew a lot of attention due to a certain Guardian of the Galaxy not participating, Chris Pratt. In the wake of Pratt not joining his fellow Avengers, fans were calling for Pratt to be "cancelled" over his implied political beliefs, or lack there of.
As the backlash came tumbling down on Pratt, his on-screen companions had his back on social media. Robert Downey Jr. called Pratt "A real Christian who lives by principle, has never demonstrated anything but positivity and gratitude." The Hulk himself Mark Ruffalo called Pratt "as solid a man there is" and added, "I know him personally, and instead of casting aspersions, look at how he lives his life. He is just not overtly political as a rule."
Despite maybe not all the Avengers crew being aligned politically, there was an outpour of support for Pratt and his decision. Endgame director's Joe and Anthony Russo were also part of the fundraiser titled "Voters Assemble: The Cast of The Avengers Unite for Democracy" , acting as hosts for a question and answer session. This event, in a lot of ways, showed America that The Avengers are voting for Joe Biden on election day, or at least the majority of them.
This once again puts into question the role of entertainment in politics, and the Russo brothers have just shared that obvious political events like this aren't the only time they've tried to influence their audience politically.
THE AVENGERS POLITICAL TOOL
While recently speaking with The Guardian , the Russo brothers explained that their Avengers films "are very much about what went on in this country over the past four years." The Russo's did more than just create entertaining blockbuster films, but added "political thematics."
Joe Russo went on to say that the films represented the necessity for "standing up for what you believe in" when "some of the worst people were being attracted to politics" in both the United Kingdom and United States.
“They were about standing up for what you believe in, irrespective of the cost, and I think we’re losing sight of that. For some reason, in the UK and in the US, some of the worst people were being attracted to politics and were representing us collectively."
Russo continued emphasizing that they believed the Avengers films had a wide enough reach "that they could be influential in helping people make potentially better decisions."
"It was affecting our collective mental health, and it was reflecting poorly on our character. We believed strongly that the reach in those movies was so significant that they could be influential in helping people make potentially better decisions. We thought that they were a really powerful tool, at exactly the right time.”
THE FINE LINE OF ENTERTAINMENT AND POLITICS
Similar to sports, many fans and viewers struggle with politics seeping into their entertainment. Often time, people switch over to a televised sporting event or click the Netflix app to escape real-world reality. However, some people may not realize the political themes that are placed into certain films, especially of the superhero variety. For example, another Russo brothers movie Captain America: The Winter Solider " critiqued the post-Snowden US landscape of state surveillance and counter-terrorist overreach" according to The Guardian's Steve Rose.
General viewers will not walk out of the theater thinking they were just influenced politically, but the Russo brothers are showing that they hope some of them are. The greater question is whether this is a good or a bad thing? There is no simple answer, different people will have different answers.
The vast majority of those walking into a screening of the latest Marvel film are expecting an apolitical and entertaining piece of fiction. While the Russo brothers can tackle "political thematics" their number one job is to make a good movie that will make the studio a lot of money.
This is the simple reality of the movie business. However, entertainment, whether it be film or television, has had political influence for a long time. While comic book films' political undertones is a bit more subtle than All The President's Men or Citizen Kane , that doesn't mean they can't be used as effective tools. What may have 20 years ago been concerned a popcorn-flick, could now be infused with political undertones that tell an even deeper story.
The Russo brothers continue building their impressive catalog of films when Cherry hits Apple TV+ on March 12, 2021.