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Consider Me Avenged

February 6, 2013

April 2012 was a very good month for me. Not only did two of my friends get married (an occasion made even more magical due to there being second helpings of the cumberland sausage that was served for dinner at the reception), but that month also saw the release of that cinematic masterpiece Avengers Assemble. It’s not easy being a cinema going comics fan sometimes. Sure, there are some quality adaptations such as Batman Begins, X-Men 2 and Spiderman 2 amongst others, but it’s the bad ones that tend to stick in one’s mind. Ranging from being a bit rubbish to being outright celluloid travesties, movies such as Ang Lee’s Hulk, Ghost Rider, Punisher (pick any), Daredevil, Elektra, Spiderman 3, Batman and Robin, X-Men 3, Constantine, Superman IV and The Dark Knight Rises can really make a chap lose faith in Hollywood. Thankfully, Marvel Studios have over the last couple of years been a shining beacon of hope, proof that it is possible to consistently make faithful and yet entertaining films of superhero comics.

Some might argue that Iron Man 2 and The Incredible Hulk weren’t great, but I think that’s just because they just a little less slick than the others in the series – I’d still chose to watch either of them rather than any movie on my earlier role of shame, that’s for certain. I loved the fact that the movies were set in the same universe – cross overs are after all a key part of the Marvel mythos. When Ben Ulrich couldn’t be a reporter for the Daily Bugle in the Daredevil film because a different studio had the rights to Spiderman it really annoyed me. But in Marvels new well-organised set up we have Nick Fury popping up all over the shop and various references to other characters littered throughout the films. When  Avengers was released to tie together the first five movies set in Marvels Cinematic Universe I was pleased as punch with how it turned out. Joss Whedon just plain got it right, with an excellent mix of action, adventure and humour. Each character had a chance to shine and the whole thing imbued with an obvious love for the source material. The fact that Whedon and Marvel had hit this six with a movie based on my own personal favourite comics title made it even sweeter. Of course it wasn’t perfect – no film is, after all – but when I’m having as much fun as I was watching it I can forgive a heck of a lot.

If you’ve read many of my posts on this blog it probably came as no shock to find out that I’m a comics fan, and it also isn’t probably too surprising that The Avengers was always my favourite title given my penchant for the heroic. During my formative years it was always the X-titles that were very much in vogue (X-Men, X-Force, X-Factor and all the various spin offs) and the street heroes (Spiderman, Daredevil) were very popular as well but for me you couldn’t beat The Avengers. I much preferred to read about big, splashy world-saving style adventures rather than about Spidey beating up muggers and getting bullied at school, and the angsty mutant prejudice themes of the X Men didn’t do a lot for me either. I liked to see big damn heroes fighting big damn villains in big damn epic battles. I also liked how mutable The Avengers team was – the steady rotation of team members made for some interesting dynamics that helped keep things fresh. Of course it also lead to some pretty strange team set ups as well. I remember at one point in the late nineties when the team featured Wasp, Ant Man (Scott Lang) and Yellowjacket (Hank Pym). Ant Man might be my all-time favourite Avenger but I’m not sure how useful it is to have three guys who can shrink to a tiny size on the same team – heck, it’s not useful that often to have just the one. And on occasion there would be some massive power discrepancies when big hitters like Thor, Hulk, Hercules or Namor would be rubbing shoulders with lower powered chaps such as Hawkeye and Moon Knight. If you’ve never seen it you should watch the highly entertaining sketch by comedy duo Mitchell and Webb called ‘BMX Bandit and Angel Summoner’ which pokes fun at that particular issue. But on the whole it worked for me and so I’d spend many an hour in my teenage years reading, collecting and organising by date and title my ungainly collection of Avengers comics. And to think I used to wonder why I struggled to meet girls.

With the first Avengers movie in the bank the plans for the sequel are already set in motion. I imagine the second movie will feature many of the same characters as the first, and possibly some of the supporting characters from the forthcoming run of other sequels – I understand Falcon is in the Captain America one and of course there’s always War Machine from the Iron Man series – but alas it seems my own favourite character will be left out again. In the current Marvel schedule Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man isn’t going to hit our screens until after  Avengers 2, meaning there is unlikely to be any shrinking/growing action in the ensemble cast. I’m sure Hank Pym (or Scott Lang or Eric O’Grady, depending on the plot of the film) has a good chance of making Avengers 3 but this got me thinking of a few other classic characters who were less likely to make an appearance in future instalments – after all with over fifty members over the years there’s always going to be a fair few left out. If you’ll allow me a moment of indulgent fan-boy waffling, I’d like to present my top five Avengers who I’d love to see on the big screen but I’m certain that I never will.

 

First up we have Moon Knight. Who wouldn’t love to see what is essentially Marvel’s version of Batman but with all the flying rat imagery swapped for a somewhat barmy Avatar-of-an-Egyptian-God-of-Vengeance motif? He’s quite a bit madder than Bats too, what with his wacky split personality disorder (as one of his foes once quipped ‘Mooney – rhymes with loony’). I’m personally not a fan of his circa 2006 relaunch that saw him plunging the depths of insanity and mucking about with the flayed face of one of his fallen foes, but when he’s portrayed as a slightly less damaged nutter battling his inner demons he can be a good laugh. And playing around with the idea that his moon-style throwing blades and other ancient Egyptian ninja weapons were actually designed and built several thousand years ago by a time travelling Hawkeye would be a hoot too.

Bruce Wayne can kiss my Ankh

Bruce Wayne can kiss my Ankh

Next we have Dane Whitman, AKA the third Black Knight (and our second Knight-named hero of this post – how odd). Black Knight was part of one of my favourite Avengers line-ups alongside Captain America, Hercules, Captain Marvel and Wasp (The team leader at the time). The Thor movie introduced magical weapons and the like into the Marvel Cinematic Universe so I can’t see any problems with Black Knight wielding his enchanted (but cursed) Ebony Blade, though there’s always the option to arm him with his later light-sabre like alternate weapon. That might have the added advantage of appealing to some Star Wars fans as well. And adding Black Knight’s genetically engineered pegasus mount Aragorn could likewise appeal to the Tolkien fans. Of course such things could also create outraged howling fury amongst those fans rather than crossover appeal, but then that could be pretty amusing as well.

Then we have the Prince of Power himself, the mighty Hercules. We have Asgardians in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so why not Olympians too? Hercules was usually played for laughs – and with good effect – but the character had some fine serious moments too. Foremost amongst those for me was his near death at the hands of the Masters of Evil and his resulting crisis of confidence. His mini-series a few years back that had him recreate the classic twelve labours for reality TV was both comic and tragic as well, as it forced him to face up to the fact he had murdered his family as per the myth. And it involved locking Dr Doom in a box in a hilarious case of mistaken identity which was a chuckle. I’d say the main obstacle to the Lion of Olympus making his big screen début is how similar the character is to Thor, in terms of them both being big, brash, immensely powerful, god-like beings from archaic cultures who struggle to understand the modern world. But if Chris Hemsworth ever decides to hang up his hammer, Herc could be an excellent substitute.

Our second to last candidate is Demolition Man. Looking for an alternative powerhouse to replace the Hulk? Why not D-Man! Sure, he was an unpopular, boring, one-dimensional character whose costume was a terrible rip off of both Daredevil and Wolverine in a sad attempt to win fans, but… erm.. no sorry, I’m stumped. I can’t think of anything positive to say about this chap. Forget I ever mention Demolition Man. He’s one character who really deserves to fade quietly into obscurity save for the odd appearance in Marvel Comics Presents or some other similar junk pile for pointless characters. Seriously, his costume was terrible.

And my number one pick is… Luke Cage. Sweet Christmas! Good old Luke ‘Power Man’ Cage has had quite the journey over the years – from 1970’s blaxplotation character to lynch-pin of the team during the New Avengers plot line (one of my favourites). It was during this plot that Cage really came to life. He was always fun as part of Heroes for Hire with Iron Fist, Misty Knight et al, but with the excellent writing of Brian Michael Bendis he became a nicely rounded character, abd his relationship with Jessica Jones and the birth of their child played a big part in that process. I absolutely loved the sequence at the end of the Skrull Invasion story in which the Skrull Jarvis kidnaps the baby Cage – Luke’s emotional response and desperation to get his daughter back is brilliantly written. And if all that kind of well-rounded, emotionally grounded character stuff doesn’t work for you, then you can just enjoy watching him kickin’ fools asses. There’s been rumours for a while now about a Jessica Jones centred TV series, which I assume Luke Cage would have appeared in. I’ve not heard anything new on that front for a while so it may well be dead in the water, but the SHIELD themed show is pressing ahead. I’m hoping that can be used as vehicle for introducing some of the lesser known heroes, particularly the ‘Street Level’ guys like Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Black Cat and so on. Time will tell.

Anyway, whichever characters make their way into future Avengers films I’m certainly looking forward to the next few years of output from Marvel Studios. At the rate they’re going they might even get round to another one of my favourites before too long – The Champions. After all they’ve already got Scarlett Johanssen as Black Widow, and I’m sure everyone would want to see her teamed up with Hercules, Ghost Rider, Angel and Iceman, wouldn’t they?

Anyone? No? Just me is it?

Fair enough.

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From → Musings

2 Comments
  1. louissherman permalink

    It is so awesome that the avengers is just the beginning of it all, hope we get to see some of the lesser known heroes in the future

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