As awful as that person is for saying that you should die, you do bash the MCU way to much. Wanda and Pietro's origin HAVE to be changed. The word mutant can't even be said in the MCU. Just think about the full picture.
Oh, I think about the full picture.
I understand that their origins need to be changed. Even outside of the legalities of Marvel/Fox’s copyright, which is a complicated and gray area concerning Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch right now, they’re origins would be revised significantly. It’s the nature of adaptation from one medium to another. Film is severely decompressed - comics, not at all.
I never at all expected them to be mutants. Outside of copyright, it’s a concept that doesn’t exactly fit in with the type of realism the MCU has cultivated in their films.
I take issue with how Avengers 2 (be it Marvel Studios, Whedon, the scriptwriter, or whoever in particular) changed their origins. I don’t even have an issue with HYDRA giving them their powers*. But there’s one aspect I do take issue with, and that is how, in interview, both Olsen and Taylor-Johnson have said the word “volunteer”.
The Maximoffs were always explicitly Romani in the comics, later revealed as Jewish-Romani, the two largest ethnic groups targeted for extermination. Furthermore, they are twins, which were specifically singled out for medical tests and experimentation by leading Nazi authorities like Mengele. There are a lot of unburried bodies in Europe of Jewish and Romani children in the name of furthering Nazi science. There are a lot of survivors still today who carry the memory of those experiments - either on their own bodies or in their memories.
None of them ever “volunteered” for experimentation.
None of them ever went to the Nazis because they were “angry” and “wanted revenge”.
(Note: choosing to not have Wanda and Pietro be Roma or Jewish in the film does not resolve the issue. Whitewashing your minority characters to avoid racist implications only makes it more racist)
Choosing to rewrite their origin in such a way paints victims of genocide as culpable in their own destruction. It says those victims deserved their pain and deaths. That they asked for it.
My bachelor’s degree is in History and German Studies. I spent a lot of time reading and watching survivor narratives, and had the opportunity to hear living survivors speak on their own experiences. It’s not pleasant. And I can see why Marvel Studios would want to skirt around the topic and legacy in their big-budget popcorn films. But they are so far not doing it in a way that serves to honor either the legacy of those characters or the real life people who experienced the same atrocities.
But, you know, maybe Marvel could surprise me. Do I believe that likely? No. Because, narratively, in a (presumably) two/two and a half hour picture which has to include action, all the Avengers, introduce Ultron, Vision, Pietro, and Wanda, foreshadow Avengers 3, it is much easier to say “they volunteered, bad shit happened, they did bad things, oh no the bad guys are evil, switch sides, flash, boom, bam”. But I would be much happier to be proven wrong.
Shinji Ikari always frustrated me and I could never really figure out why. It wasn’t that he was a wimp (even when he was) because I sympathized with him. In watching JesuOtaku’s Evangelion review, she went on to characterize him as unlikeable because of how whiny and self-absorbed he was when everything was unfolding in the background. This is mostly true, but not really the reason as to why he frustrated me.
Only recently, as I looked back on the series, have I been able to come to terms with some of the reasons why. The most frustrating aspect of Shinji Ikari is how little his actions matter to himself. Out of all the EVA pilots, Shinji is responsible for killing the most angels. These are the same creatures that, if not stopped, would bring about the end of the world. Thus, Shinji has saved the world at least a dozen times over. He’s the greatest hero in the entire history of the world. Despite this fact, Shinji can’t take any pride in any of this, because he was forced to do it. He believes that because he didn’t decide to do it, that it says nothing about him as a person for doing it. He doesn’t believe his actions are more important than his perceived identity. Thus, he turns inwards and struggles to define himself while refusing to take action. This is completely futile, because a human being will never grow or discover who they are by doing nothing. This is why the people who know Shinji personally are so angry at him/give him so many speeches about growing up in the show: they’re trying to tell him that his actions are the only thing that have purpose, so either agree to pilot the damn robot, or don’t.
One of the hardest things to watch in Evangelion is the two or three times that Shinji refuses to pilot the robot (again) only to come back in order to save someone else/humanity. As a teenager and someone who felt empathetic toward Shinji, I wanted him to leave town and never come back, because everyone who wanted him to pilot acted like complete assholes about it. Thus, when he finally relented and got back into the robot, it felt like he was being a wimp and giving up his pride. Now that I’m older, I get that Shinji gave into the responsible option and chose to try again. It makes Shinji annoying to many, but if he listened to his pride, he would have done nothing and humanity would have been destroyed. Shinji tried again.
Evangelion is entirely about trying again, even in hellish circumstances. The show is very uncomfortable to watch at times because most of the characters have gone through such hardship that you think of them as victims and then expect that they should act like victims and let some force bigger than themselves care for them. But that isn’t the point.
There seem to be two dominant messages going in Evangelion for two different types of people:
1) To the older generation - when you abandon the younger generation because life gets hard, you’re damning your own future.
Every adult in the Evangelion universe has come to terms with the fact that they are selfish and they lament the world that they have created for the youth while also trying to force them through it.
2) To the younger generation - when you give up, even in a horrible world, the world is doomed.
The children didn’t make the world the way it was, they just inherited it. It’s a completely horrible, crapsack world but they HAVE to make it better because no one else will. It’s not fair, it’s just what happens.
Shinji Ikari is the struggle of the younger generation. He wants to turn his back on the world, but he can’t because he needs to save it. Everyone else is trying to give him reasons to save the world, but he’s too self-absorbed to appreciate any of them. He doesn’t realize that people love him because everything is about him. Evangelion is the story of Shinji Ikari’s struggle to define himself without using any of the means by which anyone defines themselves: their actions.
That’s why you never see the scene in which Shinji realizes that he’s a hero who saved mankind from eldritch abominations over a dozen times; his actions don’t matter to him over some vague notion of who he might be and as long as he can think about it, it stops him from changing himself and actually defining himself.
One of the best scenes in all of this is in End of Evangelion during Third Impact when Shinji and Asuka have their metaphysical confrontation (which ends with Shinji choking Asuka). Shinji wants Asuka to love him (or save him) and Asuka pushes away and tells him that he only cares about himself but never learned to LOVE himself.
When I first saw this scene, I didn’t really get it. Now I do. Shinji is massively self-absorbed and cares only about himself, as Asuka said. This becomes apparently obvious at the end of the show, when everyone is going through their own crises, and Shinji doesn’t really seem to notice because he’s too focused on himself. If Shinji cared about others, he wouldn’t be so self-absorbed because he would spend a lot of time focusing on others. Up until this point, Shinji has only saved the world precisely because he can’t imagine a world where other people don’t define him. This is the kind of validation he wants from Asuka in this scene. He wants her to love him so that he can be “the one who Asuka loves.” That is how he wants to define himself and him wanting Asuka to love him isn’t a sign of love, it’s him trying to use her to give himself purpose. Asuka sees right through it and pushes him away. She tells him that he never even learned to love himself. This may seem contradictory, because she just told him that he cares only about himself, but caring about oneself and loving oneself are actually two radically different notions.
Shinji cares about himself by simply focusing on himself and remaining in his own mind. It requires nothing but his own attention and the belief that what makes his identity is who he is at that precise moment. But he doesn’t love himself. If Shinji loved himself, he would try to improve his life; he would try to change. If he loved himself and hated his life, he would change himself instead of being dragged along over the same hardships and never becoming a better person. That’s why Shinji is so frustrating: he has the same dilemma over and over again and always remains the same.
Evangelion has a very bitter, unsettling message that is entirely meant for you because you watch Evangelion. If you do nothing new: life WILL always be shit. Unfortunately, if you try to do something new, life MAY be shit. There is always the possibility of it not being shit if you do something new and different and that’s what you should chase in life. But, conversely, doing the same thing over and over again (even if it’s shitty), will feel a million times more comfortable than the mere notion of doing anything new or different.
So Evangelion is the story of Shinji Ikari doing the same thing over and over again and having his life get worse because of it. When he tries to do something new or different, he gets hurt and goes back to the same routine instead of attempting to change. This is why I suspect that the rebuild movies are a sequel: Shinji is going to keep trying until something changes, even if it takes multiple lifetimes/realities.
And this message is trying to tell you that you should do the same.
Hideaki Anno may hate you, but he’s trying to help you nonetheless.
#muffled sounds of clapping and congratulations in the distance
This is an amazing analysis, and I love it. But, I highly, highly disagree that Shinji is cares for nobody other than himself. You’re right - he is extremely self-absorbed. But, he clearly is capable of compassion, sympathy, and love for other people. Here’s the proof: 1. Piloting the EVA so that the injured Rei wouldn’t have to: t didn’t matter to him whether he lived or died, so it shouldn’t have mattered to him if anyone went out in the robot or not. If he was only doing it for his father’s approval, they wouldn’t have had to bring Rei out in the first place, because he would’ve agreed much more quickly. 2. Feeling bad about putting Suzuhara’s sister in the hospital while fighting to defend his own life: If he only thought of himself, he would’ve justified his actions by saying that he had no choice and that Suzuhara was just being small-minded. 3. Cleaning up Rei’s room when she’s not in it, something so important that it prompts Rei to feelings of gratefulness which she is not used to. 4. Returning time and time again to pilot the damn EVA even though it only makes him suffer.
Now, you could say that Shinji likes to pilot the EVA, or wants to pilot it because it makes other people like him. But let’s face it: it’s painful for him. The whole Suzuhara/EVA 03 debacle proves it. Or heck, just go back to the episode where Suzuhara and Aida are in the plug with him while he screams his lungs out because the angel pierced EVA 01’s armour in two places. I think he returned to NERV in spite of the pain because he knew he was needed, and because he couldn’t let his friends fight alone. If something bad had happened to Asuka or Rei, Shinji would have been devastated. It’s clear that he is emotionally dependent on Asuka, at least, so maybe his motives for keeping them alive were selfish. But Rei really didn’t do anything for him. Their relationship, to an outsider, might have seemed cool at best. Yet she was still important to him, as shown when he rushed to open her entry plug in episode 6, when they were barely friends. To me, that doesn’t make sense unless he actually cared about her.
As for his desire for Asuka to love him, I already explained it in my post about The End of Evangelion, but I’ll say it again: “Basically, it’s because he’s internalized that abuse/neglect = comfort. Why? Because dad = home = comfort but also because dad = abuse/neglect. This wouldn’t have occurred to me, except that Shinji just said, “Call me an idiot like you always do.” Also, he follows orders to get by. Asuka is not nice to Shinji; she shouldn’t be a comforting person to him. So, this. Another way to state it is that everyone else around him has changed (Misato has become sad, Rei has become not herself). But Asuka’s abuse, were she to give it, would remain the same.” Asuka provides more comfort than his dad, because of her weird messed up feelings for him, and she provides more blatant, consistent abuse, instead of just ignoring him. Therefore, she is the ideal person for him to build an unhealthy idolization on. I don’t think he wants to be “the one who Asuka loves.” I think he wants to be told what to do by Asuka, yes. He wants her attention, certainly. But love? Eh. He doesn’t even know what that is.
This brings me to my main point: perhaps Shinji is self-absorbed. But that doesn’t mean he’s a naturally selfish person. I think that he is just unable to show love properly because he’s never been given any himself. Also, his state of depression/constant mental anguish is such that it’s very hard for him to look outside himself. Here’s a metaphor for you: If you had been stabbed, let’s say in the stomach, you would pay attention to the wound and the blood and the pain, and you wouldn’t really be looking around to see if anyone else had also been injured, right? Because it would be totally overwhelming. Are you absorbed with yourself in that moment? Yes. But can you be called selfish for being fascinated by the fact that you’re bleeding out? Somehow, I don’t think so. And it’s the same with Shinji. His heart has been injured by his father and he can’t fix it. To him, this is as drastic as a physical wound. He lives in a state of constant unhappiness. So naturally, his entire attention is occupied with this pain. That makes his small moments of kindness even more impressive, because they represent times when he managed to look outside of himself. Not only did he notice that someone else might need help, but he actually did something about it. The only time you can say Shinji really failed the people around him who needed help was at the very end. And at that point, the “stabbed in the stomach” metaphor becomes something more like “shot through the head,” because Shinji had lost so much. So, I don’t blame him.
(A side note: I suppose he also failed Misato after Kaji died. But we know he wasn’t unaware of her pain. He just didn’t know what to do about it, and explicitly says so. That goes back to the part where nobody taught him how to love properly. That’s not his fault either.) (Another side note: This is also the reason that Shinji’s actions don’t matter to him. It’s because he doesn’t really take the time to think about them properly.)
Now, I’m not saying that Shinji is a stellar person, or some kind of hero. I’m not trying to totally absolve him, because even I lost patience with him near the end. I’m just saying that I feel it’s wrong to ignore his circumstances, and more importantly, to ignore the good he does manage to do. Shinji Ikari has a good heart. It’s just that not even he knows where it is or how to use it.
I do think that Shinji learning to love himself would solve all his mental problems. And, analogously to sewing up the stab-wound, it would enable him to return his focus to the outside world. This is why Kaworu was so damn good for him. But I don’t want to go into a Kawoshin ramble, so I’ll leave it at that.