There’s a moment in Captain America: Civil War—the latest movie in a long-running “cinematic universe” of superheroes—where a gruff government official tells the assembled Avengers point-blank: “While a great many people see you as heroes, there are some who would prefer the term vigilantes.”
Other than their penchant for punching each other in the face, is the mightiest problem of the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes their supersized lack of effective public messaging?
Let’s face it: a PR practitioner for these guys would probably need superpowers of his own. Here are 5 questions that ran through our public-relations-obsessed heads while watching the movie.
How Much Is the Avenger’s PR Director Being Paid?
As Civil War makes clear, the Avengers are a “private organization.” As we saw in the last Avengers movie, the civilian staff supporting these superheroes include an astrophysicist, a medical bioengineer, and an agency full of ex-spies.
We’re pretty sure a public relations specialist is part of the payroll. With the kinds of things these superheroes are up to (from galactic invaders to killer robots), it’s probably a thankless job—so Tony Stark ought to be paying him or her really well.
How Would the Earth’s Mightiest Press Conference Go Down?
When Scarlet Witch, the youngest member of the Avengers, inadvertently causes civilian casualties during one of their missions in Nigeria, world media coverage comes swiftly. Absent from scenes they showed on screen? A press conference and an official statement from the Avengers themselves.
While it probably wouldn’t do much to forward the plot, a short scene of an Avengers press con would have been intensely interesting for all of us crisis management practitioners out there.
Do Press Releases Call Captain America ‘Captain America’ or ‘Steve Rogers’?
Speaking of official statements... Superheroes typically tend to have secret identities, but the Marvel movies have largely done away with the concept. The in-movie world media identifies each Avenger by their real name: Steve Rogers instead of Captain America, Sam Wilson instead of Falcon. They even know that the deadly assassin Winter Soldier’s real name is James Buchanan Barnes.
What is the Avengers’ official corporate communications position, though? As their press release writer, would you stay in-brand and call them by their code names?
How’s the Media Coverage on the Avengers?
Having saved the world at least two times already, the Avengers are probably world-famous celebrities at this point. Are they being tailed constantly by the paparazzi? Are there hashtags every time one of them is spotted in public? Do fashion blogs obsess over the Vision’s menswear choices? How many interview requests does their communications team get in a day? And, most importantly in our line of work, how would you pitch a story on War Machine when all the magazines want Captain America on their cover?
What is the Avengers’ Full Disclosure Policy?
This is more of a Human Resources question, really—but as the events of Civil War prove, thorny relationships among its members would obviously create a communications crisis down the line. What if the word leaks out that the leader of the Avengers is best friends with one of the twentieth century’s most lethal killers? Or that their newest member is an artificial man powered by one of the most powerful devices in the universe? Imagine trying to put a spin on that.
With all the headaches that come with handling the Avengers’ communications team, we predict high staff turnover , all-night crisis communications meetings, and a nightmare collection of press clippings. But hey, the perks must be super.