Being a Superhero Gets Real … Painful

Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye

The folks who make superhero movies these days have their craft down to such a science you’d swear that what you’re seeing on the big screen is real. Watching Wonder Woman recently, I found myself wondering, How’d they do that? It looks so realistic!

We know, of course, that it’s not real. That’s it’s special effects and camera tricks and whatnot. Except that, well, sometimes what we see on the big screen might actually be more real than we think.

No, no one’s really flying. No one really shoots repulsor beams from powered armor suits.  Still, some of the violence we assume is just a fantasy is actually taking a real toll on someone in the real world.

Take actor Jeremy Renner, for instance. He must have gotten tired of watching all those Tom Cruise interviews where Mr. Top Gun brags about doing his own stunts. Not one to be outdone, the actor, who portrays master archer Hawkeye in the Avengers franchise, apparently had a bad … well, something. What actually went down (other than Renner himself) isn’t being reported, but the effect was breaking both of the actor’s arms and subsequently slowing filming on 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War.

Renner posted a picture of himself on Instagram with both arms bandaged up with the caption, “Fall down seven times…stand up 8! #fixedup #pushthrough.”

Fall down seven times…stand up 8! #fixedup #pushthrough

A post shared by Jeremy Renner (@renner4real) on

Renner told Variety (as quoted by MTV News), “There will be an effect to it, but it won’t stop me from doing things that I need to be doing. I’ll heal fast. I’m doing everything I can to heal faster.”

Maybe so. Maybe, for a normal human, Renner’s got just a bit of Wolverine’s healing ability in him.

Still, I couldn’t help but think that in movies where we’re invited to view the whole story as an unreal fantasy spectacle, sometimes the violence we witness isn’t fake at all. And on a parallel level, all that fake violence might just be having a desensitizing effect on viewers, too—even if it’s subtle influence on our hearts and minds isn’t as painfully obvious as poor ol’ Hawkeye’s busted arms.

Who wrote this?

Adam R. Holz is a senior associate editor for Plugged In. He also writes for Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse magazine and has been a Boundless contributor. In his free time (which there is sometimes precious little of) Adam enjoys playing guitar and constructing LEGO kits with his son. Adam and his wife, Jennifer, are the proud parents, in fact, of three children, one boy and two girls.

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