The summer movie season is kicking off, and the first big blockbuster to open is “The Avengers.” It brings together some of Marvel Comics’ biggest superheroes into one movie for a battle royale between a demigod and his alien cohorts. Chances are you haven’t encountered a master assassin at your office potluck, because comic-book stories aren’t usually ripped from the headlines. However, the personality types on display in “The Avengers” are probably not that far off from the volatile and larger-than-life people you encounter — or hide from — at the office.
Here are the superheroes you’ll see in “The Avengers,” the struggles they face and what we can learn from them:
The superhero: Captain America
In the movie: The product of a World War II supersoldier serum, Steve Rogers has woken up in the modern world from a coma and is challenged with adapting not only to a new time, but to new rules as well. He tends to lash out without provocation and against those who challenge or offend his sensibilities.
At work: Many of us have encountered bosses or co-workers who were biased against any ideas but their own, and they lashed out when a task was not completed exactly as expected. You could act like his superhero cohort Tony Stark in the movie and talk back with no filter, but that wouldn’t be productive. A better way to handle the situation without superpowers or a mechanical suit of armor is to speak calmly to co-workers and give examples of solutions that would help everyone.
The superhero: Iron Man
In the movie: Tony Stark is, in his own words, “a genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist” with a mechanical suit of armor that allows him to fly and shoot repulsor rays from his hands. He is also so selfish that he was not originally asked to be a part of the Avengers, because he doesn’t play well with others. He always has a snarky comment on the tip of his tongue and enjoys pushing the buttons of everyone around him.
At work: Co-workers who don’t take themselves or anyone else seriously and only want to cause chaos in the workplace can be a pain. However, they can be managed. They might be insecure about their work, so encouragement and praise when deserved can go a long way. Unnecessary confrontation, however, is not suggested, as it will only encourage more battles and less work completed. If nothing else works, walking away and ignoring them may convince them the fun is over and it’s time to get down to business.
The superhero: The Hulk
In the movie: Dr. Bruce Banner is a scientist who was exposed to massive amounts of gamma radiation, and as a result, he turns into a muscular green monster when enraged. When the spy Black Widow approaches him to join the Avengers, he is living in a remote region of the world after learning to gain some control of his transformation.
At work: Many offices have at least one person who is a loose cannon — an essential worker but not necessarily a pleasant part of the team. You need him for projects but you don’t want to be the one to approach him if something does not go as planned. Many people would say to avoid him altogether, but what if that is not an option? The best way to defuse the situation may be to present several solutions to a problem when confronting your work Hulk. Choose your battles carefully, and always remain nonconfrontational.
The superhero: Thor
In the movie: Thor is the god of thunder in Asgard and the son of the All-Father, Odin. He was banished to Earth for his arrogance and brazenness. Yet he was restored to his rightful place as a demigod after learning humility and defeating his brother Loki after Loki’s attempts to kill both Thor and Odin. Thor has had a rough life. As a result, he can be selfish, overly confident in his abilities and demanding to an extreme. His persona doesn’t always scream “team player.”
At work: In a competitive work environment, there might be a know-it-all who has deigned to gift those around him with the knowledge only he possesses. These people do not like to listen to others and believe they are entitled to accolades, even when they’re not. The best way to ground these individuals in reality is to speak up and assert yourself in a respectful manner. You might not be on their good side at first, but over time they may come to view you as an equal.
The superhero: S.H.I.E.L.D
In the movie: S.H.I.E.L.D is the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division, which employs a master spy and assassin, an experienced marksman and the agents who assembled the Avengers. They are tasked with protecting the world against invasion and have assembled the aforementioned superheroes to stop Loki and his minions from subjugating Earth.
At work: This is the team we all want to be a part of in our organization. There is a clear leader who takes charge but also delegates as needed, because he trusts each team member to contribute. Everyone is able to state their opinions and make a valuable contribution to the team. They want to bring in new members to their team and can set their egos aside for the greater good.
“The Avengers” can be seen as just another superhero movie and a chance to eat too much popcorn, but it can also show us how over the top we sometimes act and what we can do to work together. Hopefully there will be no need for an epic fight between two workplace warriors. But if it comes to that, grab a pen and take notes — it could help your career.
Mollie Ficarella is an email marketing coordinator and writer for CareerBuilder.