Figured it'd be interesting to start a thread discussing various films and franchises and the ways in which they reproduce the ideology of capitalism.
I'll say mine; the Marvel franchise. One simple way Marvel films reproduce ideology is the way in which they reproduce the ideological justification America, and by extension, liberal states, use for there role in world politics. America, as it tells its own citizens, is much like Captain America, or Thor, or the Avengers as a whole; it goes around the world, entering other nations, and saving people regardless of who they are or where they're from, the Avengers will save citizens from either some outside foreign threat or even their own government, both at home and abroad. This is the way in which Americans see their country, as a superhero, invasions of other countries were once positioned as defeating communism, with the world historical defeat of the USSR the current goal is stated to be some humanitarian mission that seeks to save the savage peoples of the world from the terrorist actors and plots threatening their lives (accordingly almost every supervillain is effectively some form of terrorist). Another way these films reproduce ideology is in their acknowledgment of the dark past much of the societies of the Marvel-verse, and in real world context the dark past of liberal society. A decent example of this might be Thor Ragnarok, whose driving force is the reveal of Asgard's past as a colonial empire and Odin's past as a universal conqueror. It was from this past that Asgard's wealth and power originated, and the resolution is a destruction of Asgard as it currently existed. However, a further investigation might find that, in the end, not much had changed for Asgard politically, to begin with Odin himself continues to be revered in spite of his crimes, and furthermore the same class that ruled the old Asgardian civilization continues to rule the current one; for all intents and purposes in spite of the destruction of old Asgard a new round of conquest could hypothetically begin (similar to how the liberal states of the 19th Century were mostly destroyed in the world wars, allowing for a new round of imperialism to commence after them).
A better example of meeting the past in such ways might be Black Panther; in it the main character, T'Challa is made to confront the past of his father as well as the reality of the colonized masses throughout the world. This film, despite diversity and an intriguing villain, has even less radical teeth than Thor Ragnarok, whereas Thor has the resolution of destroying Asgard for what it represents and Hela for being an imperialist, Black Panther rather resolves itself with first a refutation of Killmonger's radicalism (Killmonger is not a true revolutionary, instead he is a former CIA agent who intends to use a global revolution of the colonized and oppressed to instead conquer the world). Once Killmonger's critiques of liberal, settler-colonialist society are revealed, and once it is further turned to the rulers of Wakanda as having done nothing to protect the colonized or even help the rest of mankind are settled on as fundamentally correct, Killmonger is undercut as a revolutionary and eventually killed by the ruling class he sought to overthrow. Killmonger himself does indeed believe in a sort of global proletarian revolution, but he is framed in much the way liberals frame Vladimir Lenin, rather than seeking the liberation of the proletariat for its own sake, Killmonger seeks it for power. The ultimate resolution, rather than revolution against an oppressive system, is instead governmental outreach from Wakanda, that being, Wakanda's integration into neoliberal society and effectively the extension of the influence of the Wakandan ruling class; in the end revolution is a step too far, even a Keynesian restructuring of the system is a bit much, the system is fully reinforced and the ruling class affirms its rule all the more.
Another franchise I feel reflects our current cultural moment is the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy. It should be noted that the Original Trilogy already reflected the culture of postmodernism, the OT being a pastiche of WWII serials, Flash Gordon adventure stories, and samurai films. In fact, the Star Wars OT can be thought of as reflecting postmodern culture during its heights in the late 1970s and the 1980s, whilst it was a pastiche of what came before it the format was utilized such that something that appeared to be new was crafted. A similar theory can be applied to the Prequels, having come out during postmodernism's decline they have a notable drop in quality, however they still manage to add something new to the pastiche by utilizing contemporary politics to craft the story of liberal democracies transitioning to fascist dictatorships, with the War in Iraq being the framing device of then current society. Not so with the Sequels; the ST perfectly represents, if anything, the full cultural decline of postmodernism, whereas the OT was a pastiche of many cultural artifacts made in a new form and the PT blended contemporary politics to add to this, the ST is rather a pastiche of the OT, an echo of an echo, a parody without a punchline. The ST has nothing new to say or add, the characters within simply emulate what came before them, whether intentionally in the case of Kylo Ren, or unintentionally, as in the case of Rey. In the PT, postmodernism is reflected in that it goes back in time rather than continuing the story, in the ST the story is continued and yet nothing has actually changed, the Empire still exists, the Jedi are still dead, and, as it turns out, Palpatine still exists as well. While the PT showed a new world, albeit one in the past, the ST revealed that a new world simply wasn't possible after the OT, or rather, a new world isn't possible in postmodern society. This tendency for postmodern culture to present itself as a mere pastiche of what came before grows more intense as the trilogy wears on, the first film is a clear remake of A New Hope, the second in the trilogy effectively functions as a mashup of Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, the third and final film once again remakes Return of the Jedi while also drawing elements from the old Expanded Universe and the Prequel Trilogy. And what is the resolution of the ST, you might ask? Effectively none, there is no real resolution, rather than ending the story simply stops, while the OT ends with a definitive defeat of the Empire and the PT ends with the definitive fall of the Republic, the ST ends seemingly by returning things to the status quo immediately preceding it and then never actually expanding on what that status quo even was. In the end the film seemingly references its reliance and inability to evolve past the OT with its final line, as Rey bears the moniker of the Skywalkers, now dead and buried, continued not through their own children but rather a character who must take on the name to reflect the series own inability to move past what came before it.
To me what is so interesting about the Sequel Trilogy is the way in which it reflects the current spate of 80s reboots and remakes, it should be noted that the ST was not the first down the pipeline of nostalgia pap; it is, however, a decent example of these films. In our moment of cultural transformation and declining postmodern culture, postmodernism looks back to works made during the heights of its power in the 1980s (and now seemingly the start of the decline in the 90s) with a sort of eerie longing, the true essence that nothing really can be new, while the films of the 80s were almost all a pastiche in some form of what came before them, the films that defined the 2010s (beyond the superhero genre, itself made up of adaptations of existing stories) were pastiches of the pastiches, reflections of a past when mankind had already given up on imagining a new future.
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