Scales of Madness and Goodness in Marvel Cinematic Universe Scientists

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science and madness in the mcu

There are some things I just can’t let go. Science and scientists in the MCU is definitely one of those things.

Science is a massive part of the MCU’s logistics so most of the stories involve good scientists battling bad ones. The more I thought about it, the more it occurred to me that it was more like altruistic ones fighting mad ones. I already had a minor squee fest about this here. I decided to plot it all out. Possibly my favorite thing about visualizing this idea is that it makes clear that it’s impossible to be an Evil Scientist who is not also a Mad one in the MCU.

Parameters

Each character is graded on a scale of -2 to 2, with -2 being the baddest/maddest and 2 being the most heroic/altruistic. 0 is perfectly neutral on both scales. Here’s how I defined those categories:

  • Madness – Mad scientists use science to deliberately harm others, to gain power or financial advantage over others in a way that detrimentally monopolizes knowledge, experiment on themselves, or let their quest for knowledge devolve into monomania. Generally, consider whether the character is over-emotional or under-emotional and then how that causes them to use their scientific knowledge (see: this post.)
  • Goodness – The goodness metric takes into consideration whether characters intentionally and wantonly harm others, their underlying motivations, and how actively they engage in altruistic behavior. Additionally, “heroic” and “neutral” characters can slide on the scale depending on how closely they’re aligned with the protagonists.
  • Heroes/Neutrals/Villains – Heroes are main protagonists. Villains are main antagonists. Neutrals are characters who are unaligned or who switch from one to the other.

A few of these data points are fairly arbitrary. Helen Cho, for example, has about 30 seconds of screentime and no discernible character traits so I made all that up. The others I tried to hold up to the spectrum schemata as closely as possible. I was even diplomatic about it and made Simmons a little bit bad and Fitz a little bit mad! As for who is included and who isn’t, medical doctors I generally left off unless they had a research specialty or partook in experimental studies (Lincoln and Dr. Streiten don’t really, for example.) A few side characters are noted to have scientific training but don’t use it extensively for plot purposes (Bobbi, Callie from “SEEDS”). That said, if I’ve forgotten any scientists or you’d like to argue for someone’s inclusion  feel free to let me know!

(The inherent sanity of the author of this post is not up for debate.)