Avengers Month: Avengers’ Most Wanted!
It might seem kind of frivolous to already be thinking about a sequel to the Avengers when it hasn’t even come out yet, but being based on serialized fiction, one cannot help but think about future installments. Like any good blockbuster action movie, the threat is sometimes the most important part. It serves as the backbone on which to build a narrative and character development of our favorite characters. In this first Avengers movie, it appears that they will be facing off against a destructive army of “red shirts” under the leadership of a series regular, Loki: the chosen few vs. the many. So what kind of movie do we want the Avengers sequels to be.
The Evil Mirror Image
Their is the evil mirror image which would face the Avengers against a group of terrorists with equally colorful costumes and concept-ridden aliases. The go-to group I would think of is The Masters of Evil. The Masters of Evil are a group of terrorist led by Baron Zemo, a title passed down through the generations starting in WWII thus earning a grudge against Captain America. Of all possible mirror images of the Avengers, I feel like they are the most recognizable. Plus, if Marvel is serious about continuing the one-universe concept, it might be a great starting point to a Thunderbolts movie. That said, it may also be better to use the Zodiac, a Masters of Evil like organization that based their aliases on the different constellations of the zodiac. What makes them a possible better villain is they are led by Scorpio, aka Jake Fury, the brother of Nick Fury, thus giving them a more personal connection.
World War III
The idea of superheroes as soldiers is an old one. I have seen it discussed on many different message boards, but they always come to the same conclusion. Superheroes are like nuclear weapons, it is nice to have them, but if you use them, things may escalate out of control. There are other avenues though to send these heroes to war: The Kree-Skrull War or the Civil War.
The Kree are a militaristic, scientifically-enhanced race of aliens. The Skrulls are a race of shape shifting aliens that have the ability to mimic superhuman abilities Both the aliens races have already been rumored for the first Avengers movie. While it is still unclear about who Loki’s army actually is, it seems clear that it is not the Kree or the Skrull. Which is good because both of these races deserve more than to be the lesser minions to a mastermind. Their Avengers arc, The Kree-Skrull War, has been widely considered one of the definitive Avengers stories. The most exciting aspect of that arc is allowing SHIELD and the Avengers to do some investigation and espionage work. Afterall, the Kree had sent in a spy in, otherwise known as Captain Marvel, and the Skrull had used their shape shifting abilities to take over the identities of a number of superheroes in the recent arc, Secret Invasion. These kind of cold war tactics can be used to lead into the kind of climatic battle we all really want to see without being another mindless blockbuster.
While Secret Invasion had its fair share of neo-super-McCarthyism,the proceeding Marvel event, Civil War, has much more of that. The Civil War saw the entire superhero community take sides when Captain America rebelled against Iron Man’s Superhero Registration Act, which would force all masked superheroes to give up their identity to the government. It is an interesting look at the kind of social commentary that is usually included in science fiction tales, but it is also dependent on Marvel’s movie roster growing exponentially over the course of a few films. Not impossible, but certainly improbable. Regardless, if there is any chance to split the group and pit them against each other, than it would be an interesting platform for character interaction and development, especially if Joss Whedon stays on board.
I suppose the bigger question than “Who will they face?” is whether or not Joss Whedon will return as writer/director. With the exception of Jon Favreau on Iron Man 2, Marvel seems more interested in finding new directors for each individual movie, rather than individual heroes. Hopefully, Joss Whedon returns because some of the Avenger’s Most Wanted big bads are right in his wheelhouse
For instance, Kang the Conqueror. Kang is a time traveler who is motivated by proving himself one-on-one to time’s greatest warriors. He has an honor code that forces him to prove his physical and strategic strength over the Avengers head on with no tinkering of time. But the fact that he has already tinkered with time so much means there is now more than one version of himself. He has gone by many names (Scarlet Centurion, Rama-Tut, Victor Timely, Iron Lad, and Immortus) with varying appearances and personalities, but I think it would be funnier and more interesting to introduce the Council of Kang, consisting of Kang’s from different times and realities. I could see Whedon run with that kind of quirky villain balancing his ability to be threatening with his over-the-top eccentricity.
I think Whedon would have more fun with Ultron. Ultron brings with him a lot of meat for an Avengers movie. First of all, Ultron is a robot with the first real artificial intelligence. He represents man’s fear of technology, particularly its ability to take over. He’s like the entire Matrix focused into one killer Terminator. His A.I. comes with an extra psychological edge where he struggles with the meaning of his existence. It falls in line with Whedon’s viewpoint as a self-admitted atheist and absurdist. He could use this as a second chance at the utopia/dystopia storyline after the Jasmine storyline in Angel turned out to be a dud. Furthermore, Ultron is a creation of the founding Avenger Hank Pym, and that story can be used as an organic introduction to Pym and his girlfriend and fellow Avenger, Wasp.
I waited to the end to talk about this last character. It is the one character that I have seen the fans clamor for the most. That is Thanos! Thanos, like the last 2 villains, has something I think Whedon will find very interesting. Specifically, he is in love with Death (the concept as well as the cosmic avatar) and wishes to charm her by destroying as many people as possible. He was originally interested in finding the Cosmic Cube, called the Tesseract in the Marvel movie-verse, but Red Skull seems to have dibs on that. There is always the Infinity Guantlet, a gold glove with 6 stones each controlling a different aspect of reality (Time, Space, Mind, Soul, Reality, and Power). Thanos’ biggest weakness is his hubris, which always seems like Whedon-friendly material. While the battle could be mind-numbingly awesome, my most anticipated aspect of this possibility is the conclusion/epilogue. In the comics, the stones are given to 6 different Earthlings (Marvel’s Illuminati) entrusted to keep them safe. Between Whedon’s expert dialog and interest in philosophical ramifications, having 6 select Avengers characters discuss the possibility of safe-guarding the stones seems like the kind of scene that the entire superhero comic book movie trend has been boiling too.
Of course, there is no leaving out the Red Skull. He was seemingly destroyed in Captain America: First Avenger, but comic book fans know better than to think that would stick.