How Superhero Movies Have Co Opted Meditation Without Acknowledging Its Origins

Despite this area office success of superhero films and also the depth of a selection of their source material, the majority of films have emerged as shallow, mindless movies without having serious characterization. This assessment is not true. Superheroes can be complex characters with well-defined personalities, as well as right actors and actresses will bring these personalities our health about the big screen. As five films demonstrate, playing roles that originate in comics would not diminish actors'credibility. They still go ahead and take roles and characters seriously, even facing outlandish premises. In "Watchmen," Jackie Earle Haley literally sociopathic vigilante Walter Kovacs, also referred to as Rorschach. From the first lines of your film, viewers get a clear peek at Rorschach's unhinged personality from his monologue around the decaying morality of New York City and, by extension, the remainder of the world. Kovacs is inwardly tortured and angry at both himself and society, anf the husband the only method they know of to handle this anger is always to hunt those he sees as criminals. The scene by which he fully discards his civilian identity as Rorschach serves as an example: Haley makes Kovacs visibly shiver with anger at Blair Roche's brutal death as they exacts justice within the murderer. Another scene, where Kovacs is imprisonment after being apprehended, shows how contemptuous he is of criminals even when he is seemingly at their mercy.

Google "meditation" and click on the images. The search results yield photos of women in fitted tank tops and lycra pants sitting near bodies of water with the sun either setting or rising in the distance. There are a few men. Most of the people in the photos are Caucasian. It takes a significant amount of scrolling to find semi-accurate representation of the practice’s origins. These days, the ancient Indian practice of meditation has been co-opted by the Western world of wellness and self-care. For years, it's also been popping up in possibly the most popular form of Western entertainment right now: superhero movies.

Dark Phoenix, the most recent X-Men film, begins with a young Jean Grey taking a deep breath, closing her eyes and concentrating on controlling what the audience knows to be her supernatural abilities. As an adult, she (Sophie Turner) absorbs an unknown cosmic entity, which increases her powers exponentially, and makes checking her dangerous abilities even more difficult. Her mentor, Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), founded a school with the mission of teaching young mutants to do exactly that. The word is never used in the film, but to anyone familiar with the practice, it's obvious that Jean, the X-Men, and their students are all meditating.

Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Meditation is a means of transforming the mind,” explains the nonprofit Buddhist Centre on their website. (Meditation is linked to several spiritual belief systems, including Buddhism.) “Buddhist meditation practices are techniques that encourage and develop concentration, clarity, emotional positivity, and a calm seeing of the true nature of things. With regular work and patience these nourishing, focused states of mind can deepen into profoundly peaceful and energized states of mind. Such experiences can have a transformative effect and can lead to a new understanding of life.”

You can spot interpretations of these techniques in comic book movie after comic book movie. Meditation is what Shazam utilizes as he's learning to harness his powers. It's the primary tool that keeps Dr. Bruce Banner from turning into the Hulk. And it's how the X-Men's Nightcrawler teleports from one place to the next. So why is it rarely called that onscreen?

“Meditation is a loaded word in Western culture,” says Sylvia Maldonado, a meditation expert and founder of breathe bar, speaking over the phone. “There’s a lot of perceived notions about what meditation looks like. You say it and many people imagine someone sitting on a mountaintop in lotus pose, silent for 10 days. Very few words conjure so many reactions and feelings.”

The term is is only used twice across the 22 existing Avengers movies. First in Ant-Man, when super-villain Darren Cross mentions to Hope van Dyne that the practice is part of his daily routine, then dives into a monologue about how her father failed them both. The second time the word is said is during >Doctor Strange when Mordo suggests the titular protagonist (Benedict Cumberbatch) pass the time by practicing the mental exercise. Mordo is later revealed to have crossed over to the dark side.

Blockbuster Movie Scenes on YouTube

Considering the way many of the MCU narratives lean on the practice of controlling one's mind and emotions, it's somewhat strange that meditation is only called such by two bad guys in two of the franchise's middle-of-the-pack films. The absence of the word may have something to do with the superhero genre's overall discomfort with ideas of femininity and foreignness. Doctor Strange notably was criticized for whitewashing the character of The Ancient One and for orientalism in general. The X-Men franchise has dealt with sexual misconduct and harassment accusations leveled against Brett Ratner (who directed X-Men: The Last Stand) and Bryan Singer (who directed four X-Men films). Both men have denied wrongdoing. The fact remains that the writers, directors, and executives behind superhero blockbusters are still predominantly white and male.

“It’s interesting that [movie studios] don't use the word [meditate] even though that’s what they’re doing,” says Paul Booth, associate professor of Media and Cinema Studies at DePaul University, over the phone. “Meditation is seen as a feminine activity. It’s associated with emotions, calmness, nonviolence, not being aggressive, taking a step back and being empathetic — these are character traits society predominantly attributes to women. It’s telling that it’s happening in a lot in films featuring superheroes, action and adventure which are usually oriented towards a male audience.”

To explain why the word is omitted from the superhero lexicon, Booth provides a simple reason: “It is an attempt to reach more viewers. By including it but not naming, [movie studios] don’t alienate audiences.”

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Star Wars is an interesting case study, as it's built on the lore of "the Force." When characters like Yoda, Luke Skywalker, and Rey "feel" the Force, communing with the energy emitted by all things, it looks an awful lot like meditation. The films linger on the potential of the energy force and how their heroes and villains draw strength from it, in a way we don’t see in comic book films. As a result, the Star Wars lexicon around the Jedi belief system is a way of acknowledging the influence of meditation.

“Every religion has its own form of meditation,” says Maldonado. She explains how Catholicism calls it contemplative prayer, while "mantras" — the repetition of a word or phrase — are often connected to Hinduism and Buddhism. However, she also says that meditation is a tool existing inside and outside of the walls of organized religion, so to view it only as a religious practice is a mistake.

“Just like we have personal training to develop your physical health, meditation is a way to mentally train your brain,” says Maldonado. “Brain health doesn’t happen on its own. Just how if you want to be physically strong, you do cardio activities. If you want your brain to be strong you need to work out your brain. Meditation does that. If there’s more awareness and education around it, people become curious and are more willing to try it.”

Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

This rationale is exactly why Booth says that popular films avoiding the use of the word does more harm than good.

“As somebody who has meditated and looks at it favorably and as a helpful part of my life, naming it and calling it out is important,” he explains. “It helps people see it as something attainable and normalizes it.” Visually representing the practice without using the correct terminology also dismisses the real people watching who attach value to the mental exercise.

With a new X-Men movie out on the big screen that heavily leans on the practice, it’s time to finally admit the truth: superheroes meditate, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

In "The Mighty Thor," another superhero movie, Chris Hemsworth brings the Norse mythological god of thunder to life. Exiled from Asgard as a result of his arrogance, Thor must regain Odin's favor and his own powers to deal with the trickster god Loki. Hemsworth portrays Thor's difficulty in getting used to Midgard/Earth in a diner scene: the Asgardian custom of slamming a mug shared to point out appreciation is humorous to the crowd and in-character for Thor, however it's off-putting for Jane Foster (played by Natalie Portman) and also the other humans. Through this along with other scenes, viewers observe awkward Thor is and perceive his disoriented confusion, which ends up in violence after she has first landed on Earth. Thor attacks everyone in a rage, unable to take that he's got temporarily become fully human. Over the course of the film, Thor grows more utilized to being among humans, an improvement which is reflected as part of his natural conversations with Jane Foster and Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard). Inside the trilogy of films that known as for him, the half-breed vampire hunter Blade represents another type of a well-played comic book hero. Acted by Wesley Snipes, this character is gritty yet stylish, perhaps use a contrast towards angst-ridden literary vampires that were previously popular. Snipes participates in intense action sequences with the exact same stoicism viewers would expect of an reality-based superhero, slacking to supply witty profanity-laced one-liners. Together with the X-Men and Spider-Man, Blade was the primary superheroes to find the fundamental screen. The 1989 "Batman" film features Michael Keaton because Caped Crusader in amongst his preferred adaptations. Although Christian Bale's performance in "The Dark Knight Trilogy" is widely praised, many viewers criticized the gravelly voice Bale uses when playing Batman, claiming it can make it harder to look at him seriously. Keaton plays Batman more suavely, striking a blend involving the dark, serious Bale as well as the lighthearted Adam West through the 1960s movies. In brief, Keaton plays the role of Batman naturally instead of as a deliberately adopted persona.

Source : https://www.bustle.com/p/how-superhero-movies-have-co-opted-meditation-without-acknowledging-its-origins-17994135

Finally, the most effective superhero movie performances out of them all goes to some villain: the Joker in "The Dark Knight." Heath Ledger's take on the iconic Batman villain brings the Joker's menace, macabre humor, and fascination with chaos within a package that is advisable illustrated within the chilling "magic trick" scene wherein he gouges out a mobster's eye using a pencil. The Joker comes across as perpetually rich in nervous energy and on the verge of violence. Small mannerisms just like constantly licking his lips and nervously researching, with the menacing voice Ledger developed, get this Joker one of Batman fans'favorites. These actors under no circumstances provide the only real five examples of nuanced acting in superhero films. "Captain America: The First Avenger" has Chris Evans as a difficult but well-meaning superhero, "Spider-Man" has Toby MacGuire portraying essentially the most well-known adaptation of Peter Parker, and "Iron Man" gets the snarky and suave Tony Stark played by Robert Downey Jr. While comic strip films might appear to be shallow entertainment, actors can have fun playing the roles good enough to generate audiences suspend their disbelief.

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How Superhero Movies Have Co Opted Meditation Without Acknowledging Its Origins

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How Superhero Movies Have Co Opted Meditation Without Acknowledging Its Origins

How Superhero Movies Have Co Opted Meditation Without Acknowledging Its Origins

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How Superhero Movies Have Co Opted Meditation Without Acknowledging Its Origins

How Superhero Movies Have Co Opted Meditation Without Acknowledging Its Origins

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How Superhero Movies Have Co Opted Meditation Without Acknowledging Its Origins

How Superhero Movies Have Co Opted Meditation Without Acknowledging Its Origins

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How Superhero Movies Have Co Opted Meditation Without Acknowledging Its Origins

How Superhero Movies Have Co Opted Meditation Without Acknowledging Its Origins

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How Superhero Movies Have Co Opted Meditation Without Acknowledging Its Origins

How Superhero Movies Have Co Opted Meditation Without Acknowledging Its Origins

Source:Slant Magazine

How Superhero Movies Have Co Opted Meditation Without Acknowledging Its Origins