So, Tea, what do you do, quit while you’re ahead on the GotG criticism, or go full throttle?
Gosh, well, I’ve never been one for, uh, tact, so I guess full throttle it is.
I posted some criticism of a single line in the movie earlier— a movie which, I will admit, I by and large enjoyed. I really liked all five of the main characters; I liked John C. Reilly’s character, I liked Nebula…
But I want to talk about how I feel like a major opportunity was missed with Ronan the Accuser. Again, I owe a lot of this to conversing with darrylayo about it in person (and he was the one who brought it up) which helped me consolidate my thoughts on the matter.
Now, just for the purposes of citation, here are a couple links you might find useful:
Ronan on Wikipedia
Ronan on Marvel.com
Ronan on Wikia
That’s just additional reading, should you be interested.
Let’s talk about Ronan’s background, which was present but glossed over in the film.
Ronan is the Supreme Accuser of the Kree Empire. He is not some fringe maniac. His job is literally to act as judge and jury of any crime committed within or against the Kree Empire.
Ronan is not killing off Xandarians purposelessly. He is killing off Xandarians because it is his job, because he believes the Xandarians have committed heinous crimes against the Kree people.
But this is glossed over so quickly and he is portrayed as a genocidal maniac for most of the film, without the film really looking at his perspective.
And in this case, I think looking at his perspective could have been really valuable in creating a more cohesive MCU.
On a very basic level, Ronan is operating from a POV of perceived duty, a role that is his responsibility to live up to, even if his own people have forsaken him. They made him their Accuser, and it is his principles that drive him to continue to act as Accuser even in the light of a peace treaty which he believes is a crime against his people.
Now I want to go back and think about The Winter Soldier and Project Insight.
We’ve got another movie where the premise hinges on a genocide of sorts, though that genocide is not quite a genocide in the traditional sense as it does not single people out by race, ethnicity, or religion. But it is singling people out by a unifying trait.
Steve Rogers, Captain America, the single most absolutely principled characted in the MCU, someone who puts his ideals above everything else, to the point of major self-sacrifice, takes down the institution that has been his home since a very jarring reawakening in a life where everything his knows is dead, gone, or massively changed. He sees the poison that has taken root in it and razes it to the ground.
That is not actually so different from what Ronan believes he is doing. The difference is that Ronan cannot draw the line between killing those reponsible for the crimes against his people, and killing the innocents associated with them. But, like Steve, he believes that the only solution is to raze the institution to the ground— it’s just that his definition of institution is more extreme.
I would have really, really loved if they had focused more on Ronan’s principles. What he is doing is genuinely awful, a case of principles taken to extremist measures, but he is also the person that the Kree made him into, trained him to be, demanded he be, and then abandoned. Steve Rogers, likewise, was turned into Captain America, trained to be Captain America, demanded to be Captain America, and then, in many ways, also effectively abandoned.
There was so much potential to draw a parallel between the hero of one major MCU release and the villain of another major MCU release in the same year, but the lack of attention to Ronan’s character backstory and “present” (in movie terms) development really made him into a less-compelling villain than he could have been, and therefore did not leave us with a potentially challenging dichotomy between the two major offerings in the MCU this year.
The movie is great as a standalone, but a little more spit-shine on Ronan could have created a thematically cohesive year in the MCU that I missed.