Nuclear Weapons: Hero or Villain in The Avengers

With Thor, Iron Man, Black Widow, Captain America, Hulk, Hawkeye and Nick Fury facing off against Loki and a horde of Chitauri from another world one would not expect that the ultimate villain in the film, typically, is a nuclear weapon threatening to vaporize New York City under the auspices of saving the planet from invaders.

(For those of you who have not seen the film, the real spoilers start here.) Some may argue that the nuclear missile was critical in saving the day for The Avengers but the truth is all it did was distract Iron Man from the fight at hand and delay Back Widow from closing the portal through which the Chitauri launched their attack on Earth. Yes, the nuclear missile blew up a big Chitauri ship but only because Tony Stark drove the bomb through the portal, al la Major T. J. "King" Kong, in order to save the city, nearly killing himself in the process. The ship it destroyed was not even a factor in primary action. It was just something extra on screen so that Hollywood didn’t have to waste an opportunity to blow something up real big. Even Nick Fury, who is of dubious moral character at times, was more willing to fire on his own F-35, to prevent its launch, than allow a nuclear attack on a civilian population. And, given the fact that the artifact generating the portal was shielded with “unlimited energy” the likelihood of a nuclear weapon, that has a very quantifiable yield, saving the day was slim to none.

One truth that comics and the real world share, no good ever comes from nuclear weapons.