“There was an idea, Stark knows this, called the Avengers Initiative. The idea was to bring together a group of remarkable people, see if they could become something more. See if they could work together when we needed them to to fight the battles we never could.” – Nick Fury
“Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea, Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof.” – V
What is an idea? Is it the culmination of a series of synaptic nerves firing in unison to create something out of nothing? Is it a thought that one person has to help make the world better or worse? Is it something to strive towards, something to aim at? Ideas can be very powerful things. They can build and destroy entire civilizations. They can alienate and accept those different than yourself, but most importantly, they can provide purpose and direction when everything seems lost.
“It was the spark that started the fire – A legend that grew in the telling. The great idea was expansion and it started with two men. One was life. And one was death.” – Avengers #3 (2013)
Ideas can be large and they can be small. They can be powerful driving forces about global change, and they can be as insignificant as deciding what to put on your toast in the morning. The thing that most people don’t understand about ideas, is that they have no limit. Limits are nothing to a brilliant mind with an idea they truly believe in. When the United States government resolved to put a man on the moon before the Soviet Union in the “Space Race” during the Cold War, there were detractors. People didn’t believe it was possible. They had only just mastered and fine tuned flight to make the whole world accessible and now they wanted to put someone on the moon? Not possible. It took an idea, and idea that grew and grew until eventually the entire nation stood behind those three men as their rocket launched into the vast unknown to put a human being on the moon. That idea united a nation and history was made when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped onto the lunar surface. That single event began as an idea in someone’s mind, and through hard work and determination, became a reality.
Ideas have been known to separate and divide people, but they’ve also been known to unite them under a single banner. I used the previous example of the moon landing to help illustrate that just because something seemed far fetched at the time, it wasn’t out of reach.
If you had told me when the first Iron Man movie came out in 2008, that in 11 years time I would be seeing Spider-Man in the Iron Spider suit, flying on the back of a pegasus ridden by Valkyrie in a battle for the universe while he clutched an Infinity gauntlet complete with all the stones, I would’ve said you’re insane. But here we are, Endgame has released onto home media and we got exactly that. The main point of this post for me is to highlight a specific moment in that final battle.
I remember sitting in that theater and watching as the Avengers were beaten by Thanos. Captain America rose, his shield having been shattered by repeated blows from Thanos himself. He stood alone, staring at the invading army that was there to get the gauntlet so Thanos could destroy the universe. He stood alone, against an entire army ready to die fighting for what he believed was the right cause. In that moment when he prepared to make his last stand against Thanos and his army, the world united behind him.
Sling ring portals opened to reveal not just the fellow Avengers who were returned to life following Hulk’s snap, but armies from Asgard, Wakanda, the sorcerers, the Ravagers, and even some military personnel. These people stood behind Captain America ready to fight for their belief in the Avengers and their mission. In that moment the Avengers turned from a team into an idea, and that idea caught like wildfire. The Avengers stopped being a group of the most powerful people on the planet and became a calling card for anyone willing to fight to protect the universe.
“Does making a man a knight make him a better fighter? ” – Kingdom of Heaven
When the forces of the world had rallied behind Captain America in defense of their home, they were called Avengers. Did that make them better fighters? That’s up for debate, but what it did was make them part of the idea that this was an Avengers world; and as Tony said in the first Avengers film in 2012, “If we can’t protect the Earth, you can be damn well sure we’ll avenge it”.
Like the idea of putting a man on the moon, the Avengers caught like wildfire. You have this group of people who are willing to put it all on the line for everyone else on the planet and the whole universe to live their life the way they choose and not to the code or conduct of someone else. This is the core of the Avengers, that everyone deserves their right to choose how they live, this is also the very thing that caused them to fracture in their “Civil War”.
Ideas are powerful things, they birth some of the greatest creations known to humankind, both good and bad; but they are also responsible some of the greatest innovations in the world. Flight, space travel, the telephone, computers, cars; everything we take for granted in modern society all started as an idea.
The Avengers Initiative started as an idea and eventually turned Earth into an Avengers world, now that’s an idea I can get behind.