Spoiler alert

Letters to the Boston editors, May 18, 2012


I took issue with the final statement of Peter Keough's review of The Avengers ("Awkward First Steps," Arts & Entertainment, May 4) — with his dismissal of Agent Phil Coulson's death as not "compelling" enough to rally a group of heroes into action.

The thing about Coulson is that, despite his status as "the SHIELD agent," he was more than an arbitrary SHIELD agent. He was a representation of the fans, and had the same reaction that most comic-book fans would have upon meeting Captain America. And, like us, he believed above all in heroes. In people who devote themselves to helping people. When Phil Coulson asked Captain America to sign his trading cards, he acted on behalf of us all, signaling his devotion to the ideal of superheroes.

These trading cards — stained with the blood of his sacrifice when the world needed it — are not a gimmicky plot device inserted as a means of rallying the troops. They are a symbol. The Avengers are not rallying to avenge the death of Coulson, not really. They are fighting because Coulson has shown them that the world needs heroes, that there are people who believe — even if the team is a time bomb. These are not regular people, they are heroes; they are established in their individual movies as being exceptional in their willingness to sacrifice themselves for others. Sure, Coulson's death is the catalyst for their action, but it is the faith that Coulson shows that gives them the push they need to believe enough to work together.

I don't know about you, but I was compelled. As was the entire theater of sobbing, cheering fans with whom I saw the movie. I don't think I'm alone when I say I still believe in Joss Whedon, and I still believe in heroes.


In the May 11 Talking Politics, "Mitt and the GOP Boy's Club," Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers was misidentified as being from Florida. She is from Washington. She also ranks fifth in GOP House leadership, not seventh.

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