Marvel vs World – Adnan Mahmutović
MARVEL VS WORLD
Following Eric Hayot’s argument that modernity is a theory of the world as the “uni- versal,” this paper traces the “world concept” in the Marvel Comics industry (mc) and its synergy with the film industry of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (mcu). Speaking from the field of World Literature Studies, I show how superhero comics activate the “world concept” through the global dissemination of the infinitely stretchable Marvel Universe.
My argument is that by operating in terms of a universe with moldable diegetic rules, the popular culture of mc and mcu does not merely reflect the current state of the world concept, but also affects its evolution and its spread.
The universality of the modern worldview has come to be less concerned with the realist effect and more with increasing all-inclusiveness and infinite stretchability.
The increased plasticity of the world concept puts great pressure on world literary ecologies and increasingly expands and shapes what Beecroft called global literary ecology. What Marvel Comics has done in recent decades, especially through the interplay with the film industry, is to show how the expansion of the world concept entails that however large we imagine the world to be, it is always already too small.
When the war(s) in the Balkans started in the 1990s, I remember a new kind of chant arose out of the growing rubble of crumbling houses and bodies: the world will not look on this idly. It was perhaps the first time I had heard the word “world” used in this way, despite the fact that much of our history classes were about World War ii and the role Yugoslavia played in it.
It was as if we had no need, prior to the 90s, to speak of the world. The world was then some undefined and yet known entity/consciousness out there that was watching and had the power to stop the mayhem, but the question was always: Would it have the moral drive to actually do it?
We can see the same kind of thinking thirty years later in a recent documentary For Sama, which is about the destruction of Aleppo, where a character says: “We never thought the world would let this happen.” The inability or unwillingness of this “world” to come to the rescue leads to profound disappointment and suspicion, but never to a doubt that there is the world.
At the same time, we find disturbing invocations of the “world” in the infamous documents left by global terrorists like Muham- mad Ata: “force yourself to forget that thing which is called the World” (qtd. in Euben and Zaman 466).
And to top it all, at this