Ladies and gentlemen of the books, check your course listings, for instead of Chemistry you could be earning credit for studying the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Right now you have to be a student at the University of Baltimore, but if you are look for “Media Genres: Media Marvels” at registration, you and your fellow classmates will soon be exploring Marvel’s modern movie legacy together. The course is believed to be the first of its kind in the country.
According to the press release for the course, “you will scrutinize the intricately plotted world of Marvel films—the Iron Man, Thor and Captain America series, characters from the Avengers, and now the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, which is widely expected to be the highest grossing film of 2014 [and] examine how Marvel’s series of interconnected films and television shows, plus related media and comic book sources and Joseph Campbell’s monomyth of the “hero’s journey,” offer important insights into modern culture.”
“One thing we’ll do is dive into the impact of the Guardians of the Galaxy film, which proved two things: Mainstream movie audiences are not remotely tired of superhero movies; and Marvel Studios can now release a sci-fi adventure that actually features talking trees and raccoons,” said course instructor Arnold T. Blumberg, D.C.D. ’04, an adjunct faculty member in UB’s Yale Gordon College of Arts and Sciences. “It’s not that they’re getting away with it—they’ve created a universe in which fans completely accept these developments, and they’re ready for even more.”
“Every generation has a modern media mythology that serves as a framework for entertaining as well as educating about ethics, morality, issues of race, gender, class, and so on,” said Blumberg. “For the past several years, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings have served in that role for tens of millions. When I was younger, it was the first Star Wars series, which I saw in the theater. For me, that saga—along with many other science fiction stories—provided that essential exploration of the hero journey, the struggle of good vs. evil, in a mainstream pop culture context.”
Blumberg points out that the “Marvel Cinematic Universe” began in 2008 with Iron Man; only six years later, the Guardians film is the series’ 10th. The series’ close attention to continuity, he adds, is perhaps unmatched in sci-fi history.
“We have a generation coming of age with these characters and this completely mapped-out universe. It could be argued that it’s never been done better. But no matter what your age, there is always a fantasy/sci-fi/superhero realm that helps you to explore your place in the world, your identity, and your ideals. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is that realm for this generation,” he says.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has already established a rich world and a place in the culture, with the plan to extend the films through at least 2028, Blumberg should have a lot to talk about for years to come.
What other Disney franchises do you think deserve a college course?