Joss Whedon

Rose Marie Berger 12-15-2015

Image via amy/Flickr

For 700 years, Dante's epic poem — mainly the "Inferno" — has been the source of inspiration for preachers, pastors, and not a few theologians, who promoted hell as a physical place with its own address, zip code, and smoking embers. Add to their oratorical brimstone the fiery images from artists — Gustave Doré, Hieronymous Bosch, or Buffy producer Joss Whedon — and you've got a potent pedagogy.

Abby Olcese 12-15-2015

Image via Leonie/Flickr

Joss Whedon may not profess spiritual belief, but throughout his career, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Avengers and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., his work has fascinated believers. This may be, in part, because Whedon is a humanist, and his belief in respecting the dignity of all people is a common theme in his work. Whedon’s shows consistently emphasize compassion for people of all backgrounds and worldviews, even (especially) when his characters’ beliefs don’t match up.

Abby Olcese 05-01-2015
Screenshot from 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' trailer.

Screenshot from 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' trailer.

From the first Avengers film, Whedon has shown that his primary interest, apart from the utter coolness of watching Hulk destroy a city block, is the dynamics of the Avengers team. This is a group of people with different backgrounds, ideologies, and agendas who might never have come together on their own. That they are forced to work together under impossible circumstances forces those tensions to their breaking point, but also creates a sense of camaraderie that’s thrilling to watch in action.

Working within the conventions of postmodern superheroism, Whedon also addresses the side effects of frequent exposure to violence. It might seem ironic that Captain America (Chris Evans), introduced as the ideal patriot, is one of the group’s more peace-loving members. But as the sole military veteran on the team, his outlook makes sense for someone who’s sacrificed a lot in battle. When he tells Stark, “Every time someone tries to end a war before it starts, innocent people die,” you know he speaks from experience.

Nicole Higgins 05-07-2012
Dave Hogan/Getty Images

R Jonathan Ross, Jeremy Renner and Robert Downey Jr. at the European premiere of The Avengers. Dave Hogan/Getty Images

Ladies and gentlemen, summer has arrived.

This past weekend I joined the ranks of moviegoers and saw the action-packed and highly anticipated superhero movie, The Avengers, and the film lived up to its hype.

To those more familiar with the comic book storylines, please forgive me for any glaring reduction of the plot. I stand with you in my enthusiasm for the film, and I appreciate your full understanding of the respective stories leading to this reunion.