The Pentagon rather hilariously decided that it couldn't cooperate as an adviser on this weekend's big blockbuster superhero flick The Avengers because it didn't think the depiction of the military bureaucracy was realistic, according to Wired's Spencer Ackerman. This is, by the way, the self-same Pentagon that lent its aid to the making of films like Ironman, which revolves around the military industrial complex producing a super-genius who can build flying suits that can take on fighter jets. Which is to say, the bar for "unreality" is set pretty low. So what's tripped up the Pentagon's truth-o-meter for The Avengers? It features an organization called S.H.I.E.L.D., which is a sort of international peacekeeping group made up of superheroes (including Ironman). Ackerman reports:
“We couldn’t reconcile the unreality of this international organization and our place in it,” Phil Strub, the Defense Department’s Hollywood liaison, tells Danger Room. “To whom did S.H.I.E.L.D. answer? Did we work for S.H.I.E.L.D.? We hit that roadblock and decided we couldn’t do anything” with the film.
So, as Ackerman notes, that seems like a small objection in a film that is about regular, realistic people who transform into a giant green monster, travel to other planets by way of hammer, or wield a magic shield, to say nothing of the (persumably) massive flying aircraft carrier that turns invisible. (Perhaps the Navy is working on that?) So, yes, an ambiguous working relationship between the U.S. military and an international peace-keeping organization? That's what tripped them up. Just to give you a sense of what's believable or not for the U.S. military, Battleship, in which the Navy battles aliens, features a cameo by the secretary of the Navy! But international military cooperation in the face of new and unseen threats, totally ridiculous! Ah well. The Avengers seems to be doing fine absent military cooperation, having set the record for an opening weekend box office performance.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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