Winding down day two of the sixth annual Christmas in July Blogathon is the MCU and Star Wars mega fan known as Ashley from Box Office Buzz, If you are unfamiliar with her site, I highly recommend you go over and give it a look. She reviews all kinds of movies and writes a variety of other posts. As I said, she is a big MCU fan, and superhero film fan in general, and she brings that passion to this blogathon as she looks at two superhero Christmas films.
Superheroes at Christmastime: Taking a closer look at two of my favorite (unofficial) holiday films
Did you know that both the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC Extended Universe have technically included Christmas films in their respective franchises?
When people put together lists of favorite Christmas movies, “Iron Man 3” and “Shazam” probably aren’t the films that first come to mind. Strictly speaking, these movies are merely set during Christmastime, instead of actually being about Christmas, but it’s an interesting creative choice nonetheless.
Since these movies came out in theaters during the spring and summer, why use a holiday setting? Well, I think it actually makes sense thematically, if you’re willing to dig a little deeper. Here’s more on why I love these two superhero movies, and why I think their Christmas setting was a cool choice:
Reflection and renewal in ‘Iron Man 3’
Christmas is a popular time to give and receive gifts; unfortunately, not all MCU fans thought of “Iron Man 3” as a gift (or at least a gift they wanted to receive). It remains one of the MCU’s most polarizing films, but personally, I love it.
Pop culture films that become polarizing often do so because they take bold narrative risks. Not everybody agreed with this film’s portrayal of classic Iron Man villain the Mandarin, but to me that’s not the most important part of this film.
“Iron Man 3” is, at its core, about Tony’s continuing journey to make peace with who he is, both inside and outside of the Iron Man suit. He experiences Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder following the events of “The Avengers,” and he struggles with his ongoing fear that he won’t be able to protect the people he cares about.
Maybe it’s just coincidence that “Iron Man 3” takes place at Christmas, but to me it fits because Christmas is meant to be a season of peace and renewal. One year is ending, and another is about to begin. It’s a time of reflection, reconnection, and celebration.
Tony realizes that while the Iron Man suit is a valuable tool, he doesn’t need it to be a hero. And while he continues to make mistakes after “Iron Man 3,” this film is a key turning point for his character, and he experiences growth in terms of maturity and self-acceptance.
***Spoiler alert for “Endgame”*** As we now know, Tony’s character arc has a bittersweet ending in “Avengers: Endgame” — he sacrifices himself to save literally the entire universe, the greatest gift he could have possibly given to his friends and his daughter. He dies at peace, as the hero I always knew he could be.
Found families in ‘Shazam’
I was really surprised that “Shazam” wasn’t a bigger hit at the box office earlier this year, because it’s a really fun (and funny) little superhero film. While there are some entertaining superhero fight scenes (particularly the one at the very end), the movie has a lot to say about family, and — in particular — the concept of “found families.”
The film’s lead character, Billy Batson, has been shuffled from foster home to foster home before finally being placed with the Vazquez family. At first, he doesn’t want to be there, and he keeps himself closed off emotionally.
But after a strange series of events that start with being summoned by an ancient wizard and end with him acquiring superpowers whenever he shouts the word “Shazam!” (it’s a long story), he comes to appreciate his new siblings and find belonging with the Vazquez family.
I love the concept of “found families” in fiction (the Guardians of the Galaxy films in the MCU are another great example). Even though Billy isn’t related to the Vazquez family by blood, they are bound together by their love and compassion for each other.
For many, Christmas is a time to focus on family, but that can be a painful experience for those who don’t have good memories from growing up. The holidays aren’t always a happy time in every household, and it’s important to acknowledge that.
Everyone deserves to have a group of people where they feel like they truly belong, and it doesn’t matter whether those people are officially related or not. Christmas — and “Shazam” — are all about celebrating the feeling of being “home,” wherever that may be.
My holiday party
Finally, one of my favorite parts of Drew’s “Christmas in July” blogathon is seeing which celebrities everybody would pick to attend their fictional holiday party.
I’m going to cheat and pick two, because I can’t decide! First, I’d like to pick John Boyega, who plays Finn in the new Star Wars movies. He just seems like such a charming, fun guy.
I’d also like to pick Robert Downey Jr., because Iron Man is my favorite superhero, and I think he’d make my holiday party super entertaining with all his quips.
Two guests?! How scandalous, Ashley. Bending the rules a little bit but I’ll allow it because they are two pretty solid invites. 😛 Thanks for joining in!
That’s if for day two of the Christmas in July 2019 blogathon. Tomorrow, we begin the day by moving from the big screen to the small screen.
Until next time, cheers!