The Avengers’ Secret Way To Keep Civilians Safe During Their Battles

When the Avengers are engaged in an epic battle against a potentially world-ending threat, where do they send civilians to keep them safe?

Warning: Spoilers ahead for Marvels Snapshots: Avengers #1

Civilians in Marvel Comics tend to be cannon fodder for whatever threat comes along to take New York apart brick by brick. Pedestrians make up a fair amount of the collateral damage, but the Avengers devised a secret way to keep people safe while they deal with aliens or robots or Galactus or whatever the threat of the week happens to be.

Marvels Snapshots: Avengers #1 by Barbara Randall Kesel and Staz Johnson features two first responders as they discuss experiences dealing with the ground-level threats that a superhero battle means for regular people. While the Avengers fend off a gigantic robot, parts of buildings crash down on top of people and the paramedics and cops have to tend to the wounded. Luckily, Tony Stark funded the creation of “battle bunkers” on about every block in New York City, which is where the first responders take the wounded.

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These fortified safety bunkers allow non-powered pedestrians to escape the debris and stray laser blasts intended for an Avenger. It’s revealed the bunkers were created after Namor sent a tidal wave, flooding the city. Kerry is walking about town when a giant robotic fist punches a hole into the ground. An EMT, she goes into paramedic mode and starts triaging patients to decide who is too far gone to be saved and who needs immediate care. The comic glosses over the fact that this battle resulted in multiple deaths and that the Avengers face no consequences for it. 

But Kerry does recall a few anecdotes about running into superheroes and fawning over their handsomeness and heroics. She shares these stories with a cop, Jay Sero, who has his own feelings about superheroes and their reluctance to take a couple minutes and save the little guys. Iron Man later shows up at the bunker and air lifts a dying patient to a hospital, showing the heroes take at least some responsibility for the collateral damage they cause.

The comic brings to mind Captain America: Civil War, in which Tony Stark sides with the government that the Avengers need some oversight after numerous civilians die during an Avengers battle. Captain America says they need to be autonomous and the two opposing ideologies butt heads, with heroes picking sides and then clashing. The comic prefers to give more leeway to the Avengers — implying that they are just doing their job and some stop-gap solutions like bunkers are enough to absolve them of guilt over human casualties. 

The MCU heroes are culpable for the deaths and destruction caused during a fracas. Tony set up a foundation just to throw money at the problem and fund reconstruction after the Avengers destroy neighborhoods. But the public wants to have its cake and to eat it, too. They want the superheroes to keep them safe, but also be regulated so as not to tear down a city during a fight. The comics oftentimes gloss over the heroes’ moral ambiguity over having god-like superhumans using New York as a wrestling ring with no thought about the little folks. It’s a pretty stark (no pun intended) contrast to the MCU, where exactly that issue caused a war between the various Avengers.

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Updated: November 23, 2020 — 1:57 am

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