‘The Avengers’ Comics, Character Films – Staff Roundtable Discussion – Part 1 (No Spoilers)

‘The Avengers’ Staff Roundtable Discussion – Part 1
By Jon HeacockRicky SpennerMike Mierendorf, and Erin Abbamondi

The Avengers (2012) is one of this year’s most anticipated films and we here at Cultural Transmogrifier are just as excited. What better way to share that excitement then a discussion of the film, comics, and previous character film adaptations? Hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed discussing it.

Are The Avengers an actual team or just a group of heroes? Who is the leader and how do we think this will translate to film?

Ricky Spenner: It’s going to be interesting to see how they are depicted here. Without Captain America, this is a group of heroes. I believe Cap has always been the one to rally the Avengers together and lead them as a team. I could be totally wrong on this, but from the trailers, it looks like Iron Man/S.H.I.E.L.D. will be leading the Avengers. If that’s the case, I can’t say I’m surprised. I won’t like it, but I won’t be surprised.

Mike Mierendorf: I’m guessing you’re right on this one Ricky. I haven’t read a lot of The Avengers in the past. I read a lot of my dad’s comics from the 60s and those are fantastic. However, I did read the Civil War (2006-2007) story line and it seems like screenwriter and director Joss Whedon may have been inspired to have Iron Man more front and center along with S.H.I.E.L.D. from this modern version of the team. I’m hoping that the story in the movie will be along the lines of “the heroes meet, don’t work together, fight, etc. and come together when needed most” to become the Avengers. I think that could offer a hell of a great movie.

Ricky: Civil War is a great example of Cap’s significance, not only in the Avengers, but in the Marvel Universe. I’m fairly happy with Chris Evans as Cap, but I don’t see him as the fearless leader that Cap should be. Robert Downey Jr. has plenty of swagger and appeal as Stark, so it really only makes sense to put him in front for this film. I think you’re probably spot on with the story line. I’m really hoping Hulk and Thor duke it out early on in this one. The trailers have shown hints of Cap and Thor fighting . . . hope that’s not taking the place of Hulk vs. Thor. That is one of the great match-ups in Marvel history.

Speaking of Hulk, is there really any other character we are more excited to see in this film? I think the Green Giant is going to steal the show. Seems like they finally got him right.

Mike: Hulk alone has me excited to see The Avengers! I personally am in the small minority that like Hulk (Ang Lee’s 2003 version). I think it is visually poetic. But, Hulk is begging for a great film rendition. I’m hoping that Ruffalo can be a solid Banner, but I’m not sure. They haven’t shown much of him in the trailers, but I’m sure that’s on purpose. I want him to be the intellectual equal of Tony Stark.

Ricky: All I choose to remember of Ang Lee’s version is Hulk turning into Tinkerbell at the end. I was actually pretty sad to hear Edward Norton was being replaced with the guy from 13 Going on 30 (2004), but I think Ruffalo could be a very solid Dr. Banner. We haven’t seen an aged, mature Banner yet. I’m excited to see an older Hulk, too. It seems like this Banner will be able to put Stark in his place once or twice.

Mike: Don’t knock Lee’s Hulk too much, it did give us Hulk Hands after all! Also, I read trivia on The Avengers today on iMDB. Turns out that Lou Ferrigno is back again as the voice of the Hulk. That’s pretty awesome. I hope it’s a more mature Hulk as you said. Especially along the lines of the Hulk in the 90’s comics where he had actual conversations rather than just grunts. A Hulk with a brain is more exciting and intriguing to me than well . . . “Hulk smash.” But I want to hear at least ONE “HULK SMASH” or I’ll be sad.

Ricky: Yeah, it’s good to have Lou back. I think we’re going to have the smartest Hulk yet. You also redeemed yourself for reminding me of Hulk Hands. Oh, the things I have unapologetically punched with those things.

Mike: On a slightly related note—I “Like” The Avengers on Facebook and I’ve been slammed with photos from their various world premieres. The latest is this one for Beijing and the only hero there was Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye). Can we talk about Hawkeye for a second? Jeremy Renner is awesome and I think an inspired choice, I am just curious how Hawkeye can keep pace with Cap, Hulk, Thor, and Iron Man.

Ricky: Yeah, I agree with you about Hawkeye. I really like Hawkeye in the comics—he’s a rebel, a loner, and a badass. I think Renner is a great choice—I expect him to stick in the background a bit and play more of a support role in the film. He could have some big scenes, though. With all of the attention on the Big 4, it kind of makes sense for Hawkeye to take the kill shot. I just wish he played a larger role in Thor (2011) . . . maybe even be introduced in Iron Man 2 (2010). He’s a crucial part of the Avengers, and I’m concerned he was kind of rushed into the mix. I’m just glad he won’t be wearing a purple suit in the movie.

Jon Heacock: At their heart, the Avengers are a team. The conflict seems to come from the transformation from just a group of heroes to that team. The movie looks like it will focus heavily on that transformation. We’ve seen clips already of Iron Man butting heads with both Thor and Cap, so the conflict between egos will probably have to be resolved before Loki even makes his final play. In the comics, the leadership role within the Avengers is constantly shifting, since its own members come and go as well. But any other time it’s hard not to argue that Captain America isn’t the leader. Tony Stark seems like he will also be at the forefront, but then again, his movie franchise is probably the biggest so far. On another note, doesn’t it seem funny that Cap trumps Thor in terms of the leadership role? I guess American heroes are bigger than gods.

Ricky: That’s because this is America. Greatest country in the world. Also, I was always fascinated by how much respect Thor had for Cap in the comics. I wonder if that will translate to the film? I think I keep putting Cap on a pedestal, but really, I just keep hoping the Cap from the comics shines through in The Avengers.

Mike: I’m curious as to how Cap will be handled in general. Will we just skip the time-shift adaptation time? Maybe that gets saved for Captain America 2 (2014).

Ricky: I’m wondering if they skim over his transition a bit and just throw little comedic and semi-sad moments throughout the movie to save time . . . ?

Mike: Has the run time been announced yet? I wonder how much time will be dedicated to explaining the time elements. How and when does Stark build Stark Tower in NYC? How does Thor get to Earth now that the Bifrost is destroyed? What has Cap been doing since waking up in 2012? Where has Banner been this whole time?

Ricky: Many questions, indeed. This was definitely not an easy film to piece together. Besides trying to get all of these main characters that can carry their own film franchises, there’s all of the time elements on top it that! I wonder if it will be answered through S.H.I.E.L.D. debriefing?

Mike: A little S.H.I.E.L.D. exposition to speed things up.

Ricky: Exactly!

Jon: Official runtime is 2 hours, 15 minutes. But I think I would watch a 4 hour Avengers movie.

Ricky: Absolutely. 2:15 is pretty darn good, though.

Mike: That’s a solid runtime. Consider me extra excited.

Jon: Is it also safe to say that we will all be sitting through the credits for the extra scene at the end?

Mike: Absolutely. If there is one thing I’ve learned about Marvel movies . . . never leave during the credits. I go to http://www.mediastinger.com/movies/ to check my movies to stay for.

Ricky: ALWAYS stay after the credits!

Of all the character films that have been made leading up to The Avengers, which is your favorite?

Ricky: I’d probably have to go with the first Iron Man film (2008). Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) is a close second, but I’m still not sold on Chris Evans as Cap. RDJ, meanwhile, is a perfect Tony Stark. Thor would have been my top choice if it didn’t have the whole cheesy Earth bit (why is Kat Dennings in that movie?)

Mike: I am incredibly impressed with Thor. For such a supernatural and religious base of a story it is so well done. But my favorite was Iron Man . . . until I saw Captain America. I think it is perfect, as is Chris Evans. I think the next films will really show him as a leader. The first film was Cap as the reluctant leader.

Ricky: That’s a good point. He’s not going to turn into this bold, fearless leader right off the bat. I think my problem is that I still see him as the Human Torch, and he is ANNOYING as the Human Torch. He’s grown on me each time I’ve watched Captain America, though. What excites me most about Thor is, now we have introduced the supernatural side of the Marvel Universe. We no longer have to be Earth bound—Nova (who teamed up with Cap and the Secret Avengers in Civil War and might be one of the coolest/most unstoppable heroes in the Marvel Universe), Iron Fist, Dr. Strange, Namor, a legit Silver Surfer/Galactus . . . these could be truly epic film adaptations, all thanks to Thor.

Erin Abbamondi: Robert Downey Jr., for all intents and purposes, is Tony Stark, and the first Iron Man movie is definitely a personal favorite.

Captain America (and Chris Evans) is just fine, but I am hoping for much more from him in The Avengers. The very nature of the relationship of Captain America to the Avengers should help, however, so I agree with Mike about this.

While I think Thor lacks in many things, I also feel it had the most difficult task as a comic-to-film adaptation. Thor takes a well-known myth, adds Marvel twists and turns, and then further complicates it all with a space component. Thor feels different from Iron Man, Captain America, etc., and it should—Thor is a superhero complicated in different ways than all the rest. You get the tale of maturation essential to most comic book heroes, but you also get a spin on the idea that “with great power comes great responsibility.” When Thor eventually takes his responsibility, his great power follows. And along with Thor’s hero journey, you get the added bonus of Loki’s story arc—arguably one of the most interesting characters in mythology and comic books. After taking a look back at all of the Marvel movies leading up to The Avengers, I think Thor sets itself apart as the best with both a captivating hero’s tale, and an equally captivating (if not more so) villain that audiences can sympathize with nearly as well as they do with Thor.

Ricky: Absolutely spot-on, Erin. I was surprised Thor turned out the way it did. Thor and Loki are two very complicated and interesting characters, and the movie does a very nice job of introducing them to the masses. I think we brought this up at some point, but I will be interested to see how Thor interacts with the rest of the Avengers. I wonder if he will be back to his cocky and arrogant ways or if RDJ will take care of that.

Mike: I think the arrogant Thor is gone. He had to be eliminated in order for Thor to get Mjolnir back in the movie. My guess is he’s more closely related to the kingly-Thor Odin always hoped for.

Jon: I think it’s hard not to argue that the first Iron Man is the height of the movies leading up to The Avengers. In a way, it’s a little worrisome to think that the other single character movies couldn’t exceed the first one. I do also remember The Incredible Hulk exceeding my expectations. So with Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, 2005) in charge of Iron Man 3 (2013) and the prospective sequels for all the others, what is the most exciting continuation of the Marvel franchise?

Mike: I really want to see Captain America 2. I really love the character of Cap and would like to see a bit more developing of Steve Rogers adjusting to his new life in 2012.

Ricky: I agree with Mike. I have high expectations for Cap 2. I’d like to see Bucky return as Winter Soldier, and Baron Zemo as the main villian.



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