In my life, I have been surprised by the lack of interest in the arts within society.
As an actress in training, I have realized how storytelling has constantly been a way to progress, preserve, and question cultures, ideals, and life styles. Plays are a way to present universal themes at an individual level. Plays have survived throughout human life.
Yet, more often than not, I come across people who disregard live plays. The theater is shunned for either the high-class “artsy-fartsy” type or the “starving artists.” A quote from a professor I’ve had has stuck with me and brings me hope as well as dismay:
“Theatre is the only art form that has been dying for hundreds of years.”
This quote rings true because, again, all through the living life of mankind theater has survived. It is my hope that within this article I can inspire others to read, or better yet go see, a play and embrace its conflicts, intimacy, and questions.
Let a play entertain you as say, a Marvel movie or D.C television show does.
A thought recently popped into my head. The head… of a girl that doesn’t know much about the comic book world yet loves the stories she grew up watching. I grew up watching television shows and movies such as: The Justice League, Teen Titians, X-Men, The Avengers (cartoon and movies), Young Justice, and plenty other superhero cartoons and spin offs.
I’ve noticed, from what I have watched, that the D.C universe deals much more with “Gods” and beings of Other Worlds, as well as other dimensions, to save the humans on Earth. Marvel, on the other hand, deals much more with humans of Earth protecting and growing and saving other humans of Earth.
In that sense, isn’t the D.C universe a retelling of the plays from the Greeks? Or Marvel merely a play on the stories on one William Shakespeare?
The Greek plays from the hands of Sophocles, Euripides, and Aeschylus all had what is called “deus ex machina” or divine intervention. It is a point in the play, usually the end, where an appearance of a god is used to unravel and resolve the plot.
The D.C universe uses characters such as the God like Superman, Wonder Woman (who praises to the Goddess Athena), Aquaman (connected to Triton or Poseidon), and many other gods, goddesses, and aliens to save the day. If it is a human with super abilities they usually were bestowed those abilities by a god or an alien.
What about Batman you ask? He is seen as a dark hero. Even he is subject to being a God like figure. In the Justice League, he too resides in space and comes down to Earth to intervene for the lesser humans. In the end of both the Greek plays and the D.C Universe, the human race is something to be protected by these super-powered beings.
Everything is fixed by, you guessed it, deus ex machina!
Looking at stories told by Shakespeare, you don’t get the Gods saving the human race. There are themes that ponder:
“if there is chaos in the God’s realm then there is chaos in the human’s realm.”
Yet, in the end of the play it is about human error, human emotion, and human intervention. Ultimately, the characters grow and learn or decay into nothing due to their own perfections and faults.
There is Othello driven green with jealousy and kills his wife; or Hamlet with pride and dedication to out his uncle even if he looses everything, including himself, in the process. Or maybe we look at Roslind who cross dresses to find her love and learns that true love is hard work but always worth it. Human plays that are very much revolving around human actions.
We see this humanity in the Marvel Universe.
Most heroes seen were made in a lab, either accidentally or purposely, or humans born with a mutation. We see the Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America, Jean Grey, Jubilee, just to name a few who are all incredible in their power and incredibly human. They fight for the humanity that they know and love and wish for a better tomorrow.
Jean is driven mad with power and kills most that she loves. Captain America is to play a character and must figure out how that character can fit in a setting he wasn’t supposed to be a part of. Iron man dresses in an iron suit and figures out what it means to create peace instead of war. Humans saving or destroying humans. Shakespeare at his finest.
These comic book worlds are merely a stage and the heroes are all merely players.
Theater is just as entertaining as D.C and Marvel. One just needs to give it a chance. In my opinion… whether you like the stories of the Gods or you are looking for a more human relevance, remember D.C vs Marvel is just another way to show the Greeks vs. Shakespeare.