While Hollywood execs gawk at the $207.4 million Disney’s “The Avengers” raked in domestically, wrecking box-office records and promising to bring in tons more, I hope U.S. corporations pay attention, too. A film with superheroes rocking capes and a green beast with an anger-management problem could turn America around faster economically than any stimulus package.
“The Avengers” is delectably corny and retro. But the film should be required viewing for U.S. corporations. As Super Agent Nick Fury found a way to connect the superheroes to a mission beyond their personal agendas, so too do more corporations need to recommit to the national interest. Maybe a showing of “The Avengers” could be a teaching moment for corporations who think their responsibility is limited when it comes to the nation’s fiscal health.
I’m convinced corporations can be profitable and remain productive partners in America's communities. But corporate leaders have to decide whether they want to collaborate with U.S. citizens or exploit them. Obsessions about shareholders and returns on investments are inexcusable when the economic fires dwindle back home.
It’s troubling that companies are sidestepping taxes and arguing about the intricacies of the global economy as a reason to sacrifice the economic future of America. Why can’t corporations use their global footprint to help, not cripple, American workers? If Captain America were in charge, heads would roll in America’s boardrooms until they figured it out. The superhero grew up in the Great Depression and fought in World II. In his generation, the words “can’t” and “won’t” didn’t exist. And if the Black Widow were involved, she wouldn’t hesitate to help corporate executives remember their responsibility, either. In “The Avengers,” she has a bang-up way of helping Hawkeye remember things.
I’m not making light of the nation’s problems. They are complicated. The issues are further entangled now because French and Greek voters have rejected austerity measures, and those elections threaten global economic stability. But the challenges in “The Avengers” are complicated, too. Stopping Loki and his hologram stunts and closing a portal aren’t easy. But in the end, the superheroes overcome together. They stop snapping at each other territorially and pursue an agenda that supersedes their own. Thor doesn’t soar back to Asgard because the emotional tax of working with humans jeopardizes his cosmic peace. Self-made Iron Man doesn’t sulk and escape to Bali with Pepper Potts because people won’t follow his orders blindly. The Avengers focus on team play and shared purpose. They shift their energies toward their mutual adversaries — Loki and his galactic allies. Once they do, the superheroes become invincible.
The storyline for corporations during America’s economic trial still is being written. Stories about companies reinvesting in America are encouraging. But there’s time for more companies to deliver stories that would make The Avengers proud.
Judy Howard Ellis is a Dallas-based creative consultant for entrepreneurs and the author of “Fall of the Savior-King,” a fantasy novel inspired by the Book of Genesis. Previously, she was features editor at the Denver Post. Follow her on Twitter at @JudyHowardEllis.