The MCU and D.C. superheroes are always presented as smirky, mild-mannered individualists — unpretentious, anti-corporate, egalitarian types with extraordinary powers, rock-hard bods and dry senses of humor. In a phrase, friends of the common man. I’m not saying they aren’t that or that the general superhero mythology is a mountain of bullshit, but just for the sake of argument or conjecture imagine that the superhero thing is all about authority, and that fans of superhero films are, in a sense, sheep or cattle. As in (a) “they love to eat that grass” and (b) “nothing makes them feel better than to obey by buying tickets.”

What’s the first requirement of any authoritarian figure? Obviously a widely accepted belief in his or her power and omnipotence. But the authoritarianism I’m speaking of isn’t a matter of this or that costumed brand monkey…Captain America, Batman, Mystique, Black Widow, Black Panther, etc. I’m speaking of the corporate authority wielded by the Marvel (Disney/Fox) and D.C. (Warner Bros.) guys. They’re only in it for the money, of course, but imagine if they also loved the power and control and had begun to get used to that extra-special warm feeling in their blood…that feeling of having built a super-empire and having convinced tens of millions worldwide to follow with a high degree of worship and obedience that would be the envy of any strongman dictator.

I’m not saying this is the case today, but imagine if it were. Because once you let this scenario into your head, everything becomes clear.