The Avengers - A Long, Strange Journey
Original Avengers Line-Up
One of the most anticipated geek-boy/geek-man films for 2012 is "The Avengers," staring all the characters from Marvel's solo productions. (Well, excluding Daredevil, Spider-Man. Ghost Rider, and Elektra.)
I owned The Avengers No. 1 comic book, and thought it was terrific. The interaction between the characters was every bit as interesting as their battle against Loki. This may end up being true of the film star characters as well.
Technically, Avengers No. 1 did not include Captain America. I think he joined the ranks by issue No. 10. By then (if memory serves) the Hulk was no longer with the team and Ant Man had become Giant Man. The Avengers on film will depart from the original comic books in countless ways. Among them are: (1) You won't be seeing The Ant Man/Giant Man or The Wasp. (2) However, you will be seeing Hawkeye and the Black Widow, both of whom had not been born into the Marvel universe until years later. (3) You won't see Iron Man in his original golden but bulky armor (but this necessary change has already been established). (4) You will see a Hulk that is eight or nine feet tall -- as opposed to his original man-like size. (5) You will see a tremendously diminished Thor who, in Avengers No. 1, was able to lift the Hulk off the floor while the Hulk attempted to denegrate Thor by forcing him to his knees. (5) You will see a refurbished Nick Fury (never part of the Avengers and conspicuously absent as the sergeant who should have been leading the Howling Commandos in the "Captain America" flick. (There was no choice here script-wise, since almost everyone from the WWII generation has passed on.)
If you are a comic book fan and enjoy seeing movie adaptations, you are already aware of the costume alterations (although it looks like Captain America may undergo a costume change that more closely resembles Cap from Avengers No. 10).
A two-hour movie attempting to capture a new-spun origin for The Avengers will be daunting. My guess is that each character will get 15 minutes (or less) of solo screen time. Because of the time constraints, the movie will have to be very fast moving (and that is usually a plus among audiences). The end result may leave audiences screaming for more, and, if the gross is significant enough, Marvel will make future accommodations. Since the actors are under contract, they could be "stuck" with their roles for a very long time to come.
By injecting a sense of humor into the productions of "Iron Man", "The Hulk", "Captain America", and "Thor," the movies have all been almost the polar opposite of WB/DC's "The Dark Knight," which was nearly humorless. The injections of humor are a tremendous, unexpected plus with audiences (especially female audiences). Since each of the solo character films have been fun (if imperfect), I am expecting "The Avengers" to follow suit. Somehow the sum of its parts will have to be more spectacular than any of the solo films. A lot is riding on the success of this film.
For me, it has been a long strange journey to witness Marvel's early superheros evolve to the point where they are now part of a major studio's summer blockbuster gamble. Some people may scoff at the idea of so many superhero films being produced while more heady subject matter sits in the screenplay pile. For the disenfranchised I would merely say that I wish all good screenplays could be "green lighted," but the facts are that the studios can only afford to make a certain number of movies per year, and they want the best return on investment. Perhaps because the US is going through such difficult economic times, the pure fantasy/escapist type movie is going to be the best medicine for us to temporarily forget our real-world woes.