Marvel vs. History

I’m a history kind of guy.  I enjoy the stories and the characters unfolding.  I like cause and effect relationships.  I especially love tactics and battle plans.  I believe that the majority of the kids sitting in my class are less enthusiastic about these parts of history than I am.  In the same way, I am in for any Marvel movie they make.  I’m easily entertained by comic book movies and I love seeing the bigger story come together into movies like Infinity War.  As I reflected on this movie breaking all kinds of records, I think there are some lessons to be learned for history teachers.

  1. Every detail does not matter.  If Marvel gave us every detail in the Infinity War movies, they would be twice as long or more.  Most people do not have the attention span to hear about everything…like where are certain characters, why did they make every choice they did, how did certain scenes come together.  In the same way, maybe my love of history doesn’t need to be evident when I teach on a topic.  Give the main ideas and important details, but leave out how the dress of the Texas soldiers may have helped lead to a victory.
  2. Characters can be more important than their story.  Thanos is a character that is very important to Infinity War.  His daughter Gamora is in a handful of other movies, but her character is not someone I root for.  There is a very tense scene between the two of them and because Thanos is more compelling of a character I rooted for him in that scene.  Same thing in history applies.  There are compelling reasons for each side of a story, so use that to your advantage.  Maybe use an analogy that helps us understand the struggle of Stephen F. Austin to agree to a revolution.  Pull on some heart strings occasionally and help students understand a character’s motivation.
  3. Give people a reason to care.  The bigger issue in the Marvel movies is the build to Thanos gaining all of the infinity stones, so I care about all of the little things that happen along the way.  I’m going to try and give the bigger picture up front next year in the hopes that my students will be able to put the magnitude of what is going on in context.  Maybe if we talk about the dream of Texas’ independence up front the kids will better understand why certain battles matter so much.
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