Whether the Marvel Cinematic Universe should be rejected by Catholics as Modernist and/or Materialist?
The short answer is possibly, but seeing that MCU is based on fantasy, I would venture to say that the Church has not made any pronouncements concerning the Marvel Cinematic Universe!
First of all what is modernism?
Etymologically, modernism means an exaggerated love of what is modern, an infatuation for modern ideas, "the abuse of what is modern", as the Abbé Gaudaud explains (La Foi catholique, I, 1908, p. 248). The modern ideas of which we speak are not as old as the period called "modern times". -Modernism (Catholic Encyclopaedia)
Secondly what is materialism?
As the word itself signifies, Materialism is a philosophical system which regards matter as the only reality in the world, which undertakes to explain every event in the universe as resulting from the conditions and activity of matter, and which thus denies the existence of God and the soul. It is diametrically opposed to Spiritualism and Idealism, which, in so far as they are one-sided and exclusive, declare that everything in the world is spiritual, and that the world and even matter itself are mere conceptions or ideas in the thinking subject. Materialism is older than Spiritualism, if we regard the development of philosophy as beginning in Greece. The ancient Indian philosophy, however, is idealistic; according to it there is only one real being, Brahma; everything else is appearance, Maja. In Greece the first attempts at philosophy were more or less materialistic; they assumed the existence of a single primordial matter — water, earth, fire, air — or of the four elements from which the world was held to have developed. Materialism was methodically developed by the Atomists. The first and also the most important systematic Materialist was Democritus, the "laughing philosopher". He taught that out of nothing comes nothing; that everything is the result of combination and division of parts (atoms); that these atoms, separated by empty spaces, are infinitely numerous and varied. Even to man he extended his cosmological Materialism, and was thus the founder of Materialism in the narrow sense, that is the denial of the soul. The soul is a complex of very fine, smooth, round, and fiery atoms: these are highly mobile and penetrate the whole body, to which they impart life. Empedocles was not a thorough-going Materialist, although be regarded the four elements with love and hatred as the formative principles of the universe, and refused to recognize a spiritual Creator of the world. Aristotle reproaches the Ionian philosophers in general with attempting to explain the evolution of the world without the Nous (intelligence); he regarded Protagoras, who first introduced a spiritual principle, as a sober man among the inebriated.- Materialism (Catholic Encyclopedia)
It is all based on a shared universe with a whole list of superheroes (human or otherwise).
The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is an American media franchise and shared universe centered on a series of superhero films, independently produced by Marvel Studios and based on characters that appear in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The franchise includes comic books, short films, television series, and digital series. The shared universe, much like the original Marvel Universe in comic books, was established by crossing over common plot elements, settings, cast, and characters. - Marvel Cinematic Universe (Wikipedia)
Is the MCU materialistic? The Church would probably think so. With modern answers to hope coming in large part from the use of meta-material known as Vibranium in the Marvel comics and Marvel Cinematic Universe.
There is very little real science involved in the meta-material known as Vibranium in the Marvel comics and Marvel Cinematic Universe. If such a material existed with these properties, it’s value would be without measure. With that said, we will discuss the capacities of the material in conjunction with its depictions in Marvel franchise materials.
The Answer-Man’s Archives: Vibranium
Vibranium is nowhere near the hardest or strongest metal in the Marvel Universe. It is, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the most inconsistent of meta-materials, having properties which reinforce and yet contradict previous depictions. And yet, we don’t care. As long as it’s doing cool stuff, we accept its properties and handwave them through.
Vibranium’s inherent strength has little to do with why it is highly prized as part of an armor package. Instead, it is the underlying properties of the meta-material which creates its fantastic value and makes it one of the most sought-after materials on Marvel’s Earth.
Found only in the African nation of Wakanda, the technologies pioneered through the study of Vibranium give Wakandan science an extraordinary advantage making it one of the most technologically-advanced nations on Earth.
Defences made with Vibranium are extremely tough, durable, and extremely stress-tolerant. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Vibranium alloys might be some of the strongest metals on Earth (so the claim does have a degree of merit in the MCU, if no place else).
Why Vibranium matters
Where most metals have only their inherent durability to offer as a defensive measure, Vibranium and alloys of the metal have an extra meta-material property not found in any metals on Earth: The harder you hit Vibranium, the stronger it gets (until it breaks)…
We know Vibranium has limits to how much energy it can absorb (at least in the comics) when Iron Man and the Sub-Mariner team up against ROXXON, (after the standard superhero conflict in, Iron Man vol 1, #121). -Is Vibranium the strongest material in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
In the universe of Marvel Comics, it is not God who saves Mankind but Superheroes and their ability to transform and use meta-elements like vibranium, adamantium, carbonadium and so on for saving mankind.
So logic would think that the MCU is both materialistic and modernist, in the viewpoint of Catholicism, but being fantasy the Church will not pronounce on it. It cool viewing material on the screen.
To most comic book fans, these roles are extremely black and white: the heroes are the good guys and the villains the bad guys. But as the Marvel Cinematic Universe grows and evolves, these definitions get a little fuzzy. Now we have to think about what makes us consider actions as "good" and "evil." (Like holding an entire New Jersey town hostage in order to escape trauma.)
In academics, this field of study is called ethics. It's just one facet of the many philosophical concepts the MCU has exhibited in the past, but it's never been explored like this.
WandaVision not only created a world without one true villain, it openly discussed the metaphysics of identity using the complex thought experiment of Theseus' ship. While philosophy has long been lurking below the surface of the MCU, this show has brought it to the surface and used it in an incredibly surprising way that could reshape the future of Marvel Studios.
“All Avengers are Good.” They're superheroes, that's their entire deal. But the reason for interpersonal conflicts between these many characters is because they each have different priorities and definitions of what makes an action "good." In the book Avengers and Philosophy, philosophy professor Mark D. White describes TONY STARK's behavior in the comics as classically Utilitarian.
Utilitarianism is the pragmatic definition of "good" in that whatever does the most amount of good for the most amount of people is the morally best choice, regardless of the initial cost. This is exhibited in Tony Stark's final sacrifice in Avengers: Endgame, where the only way to save the world is to lay down his own life. It isn't the best option for his happiness, but for the world at large. In the universe's biggest trolley problem, Tony steps onto the tracks.
Diametrically opposed to Stark in Civil War is STEVE ROGERS, who takes his title of Captain America incredibly seriously. White describes his morals as DEONTOLOGY, which is the practice of prioritizing duty above all else, regardless of consequences. Basically, deontology is doing what's "right," while utilitarianism is doing what's "good."
This is all over Captain America's dialogue even from before he became Captain America. Scrawny Steve Rogers says "There are men laying down their lives, I got no right to do any less than them." Most philosophical Captain America soundbites include the word "right." Classic deontology.
Philosophically, the term "person" is hard to define in the MCU. After all, Thor isn't technically human, but he is in fact a person. If humanoid aliens can be called a person, why can't humanoid Synthezoids? And if Vision is considered a person even created through Wanda, then surely White Vision is too.
But while that may cause tension between the two, WandaVision showed that evoking philosophical differences isn't always just a tool to create conflict. Through conversation and exploration of these big questions, characters can actually bond and come to terms with each other. It may mean less punching, but Marvel has enough of that to go around. Smart de-escalation and mediation can be its own superpower.
And with Wanda on her own study retreat for the time being, we don't know if she'll face consequences for her chokehold over the entire town of Westview or if she'll be forgiven because of the sheer amount of trauma and grief she was under at the time. How do you prosecute the world's only user of chaos magic? Maybe this isn't something that can be classified as good or bad in the eyes of the law, but in Wanda's own personal guilt.
So, Marvel fans, grab your Locke and Descartes, because not only is the MCU only going to get more and more philosophical, it's been philosophical under our noses the entire time. - 'WANDAVISION': SHIP OF THESEUS FIXES THE DUMBEST THING ABOUT MARVEL MOVIES
Nowhere in the MCU system is there a place for the supernatural, so the idea God is out of the place in this fantasy universe. Of course it is modernistic and materialistic!