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The Arkham Sessions, Ep. 167: ‘The Avengers’

The Arkham Sessions, hosted by Dr. Andrea Letamendi and Brian Ward, is a weekly podcast dedicated to the psychological analysis of pop culture, including Batman: The Animated Series, Steven Universe, the MCU, and Doom Patrol. Nostalgic, humorous, and even a little educational, each episode promises to lend some insight into the heroes, villains, and classic stories of the Dark Knight and more!

The Arkham Sessions, Ep. 167 – The Avengers

Knowing how to build a strong team is so important, especially during a crisis. We rewatch the 2012 Marvel film, The Avengers, and look for psychological tools that could be valuable to us, as our world grapples with its own formidable crisis.

Brought together by S.H.I.E.L.D. to protect Earth, The Avengers show us many essential skills for coping, problem-solving, and managing during challenging times. Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, Natasha Romanoff, Steve Rogers, Thor Odinson, and Clint Barton get to know each other as people before they relate to one another as their superhero selves–Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, Black Widow, Captain America, Thor, and Hawkeye. Of note is their ability to understand internal conflict and to confront one another about their differences; however, it takes a tragedy for the Avengers to ultimately suit up for a shared cause.

Research on the psychology of teamwork suggests that diverse groups with various qualities can be successful and very effective. You don’t need six Iron Men. And six Hulks would be…a disaster. Being driven by different values (e.g., responsibility, discipline, self-betterment, self-sacrifice, duty, emotional relief, etc.) is completely acceptable among members as long as the team shares a common macro goal. Identifying as a team also matters. Uniting their strengths to protect the Earth from the war-hungry Chitauri alien army seems a fitting objective for the Avengers. And of course, there’s Loki. The Avengers realize his mischief can reach a level of terror and great destruction.

Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision–which means the Avengers must direct their individual accomplishments toward one organized objective. According to Positive Psychology research, to accomplish this, a team needs to have the following core ingredients: emotional awareness, good communication, stress tolerance, conflict resolution skills, and, very importantly, a positive mood. We assess whether the Avengers have these essential skills based on what we see in the Battle of New York.



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