Confessions of a Comic Book Guy--Eulogy for a Very Special Agent
Column by Steve Bennett
Published: 05/23/2012 01:52am
Confessions of a Comic Book Guy is a weekly column by Steve Bennett of Super-Fly Comics and Games in Yellow Springs, Ohio. This week, Bennett offers some thoughts on The Avengers that we haven't heard before.
Well, it's been a couple of weeks since the release of Marvel's The Avengers and naturally the blogosphere has examined it from every conceivable angle, but naturally I've still found a few items of interest. For example, the piece which appeared in The Hollywood Reporter titled "How 'Avengers' Silence Critics of Disney's Marvel Deal." It highlighted the fact that at the time there were lots of people on Wall Street who felt $4.3 billion was too much for Disney to pay for Marvel. Heck, even I believed it. It's not so much I undervalued the company's worth as that I firmly believed the appeal of the characters (Spider-Man excluded) was inherently limited. And that no matter how hard they tried to position themselves as a "synergistic youth entertainment conglomerate" Marvel was more of a niche, boutique enterprise--compared to Disney anyway.
Leave it to Entertainment Weekly to notice in their May 18th issue* in a piece titled "Avengers Missing In Action" that there were two Avengers missing from the movie; Hank Pym and Janet van Dyne. Both were undoubtedly considered "too silly" for the big screen, though of course an Ant-Man movie has long been planned--as a comedy. But then "silly" is a slippery slope when it comes superheroes; undoubtedly the reason the CW decided to call their Green Arrow hour long drama just plain Arrow was because they were afraid "Green Arrow" sounded silly. Not that Arrow is any better (plus the fact it's also the name of a Golden Age archer).
No doubt it was fear of getting laughs that kept the movie from ever referring to Natasha Romanov and Clint Barton as "Black Widow" and "Hawkeye," not even once to establish those were their S.H.I.E.L.D. code names. But at least Natasha got some of her back story in; besides establishing he was some kind of covert ops sniper we're given no idea who "Hakweye" is. Nobody ever mentions the elephant in the room, i.e., "what exactly is this guy doing here?," and while I was initially surprised the film didn't even try to justify him using arrows it ultimately makes sense. It's because, as with Cap's shield in Captain America: The First Avenger; there really is no good real world way to justify it, so it's better to say nothing and hope the audience just accepts it. Which, apparently, they have.
The Avengers introduced a word into America's consciousness; Shawarma. For those like me who had to look it up Shawarma is, in the words of one website, an "Arabian taco," a mixed meat pita bread sandwich--you might be more familiar with the Greek equivalent the gyro. According to "'The Avengers' makes Shawarma Sales Skyrocket" by Clarissa Wei that appeared in The Village Voice, Shawarma sales across the country are "skyrocketing." You've got to wonder how long it'll be before Subway decides to introduce their five inch Shawarma.
Like I said in my last column ("Confessions of a Comic Book Guy--Avengers Assembled") I’m not big on spoilers; not knowing what's going to happen in a movie beforehand rarely impairs my enjoyment of it. But I was glad I knew little about Marvel's The Avengers because it allowed me to be legitimately shocked by "the unexpected death of a major character." And while I don't want to ruin that experience for anyone else, I think it's safe now that Marvel has introduced a weapon called "Coulson's Revenge" to their online role-playing game Marvel: Avengers Alliance.
I'm speaking of course about the passing of Agent Phil Coulson. Professional yet casual, soft spoken without being "soft," his deliberate kindness helped ground all the fantastic elements in these movies to some kind of relatable reality. Hopefully this will teach Marvel something they've clearly forgotten; it's "large as life" characters like Coulson who help bring a human scale to their larger than life epics. But, what are the odds, really?
Wolverine & The X-Men #10. What better way to pay dignified tribute to the late Jean Grey at the school bearing her name than by making a statue of her not just in costume but in her ugliest costume, then shrinking down her mini-skirt until we can see her pelvis. Well played, Marvel Comics, well played.
* The cover to this issue features the cast of the upcoming movie Prometheus in their unnecessarily skintight space suits which demonstrate the same sort of over the top hyper textured detailing you see in the costumes in The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises. So, clearly, over the top hyper textured detailing is now a "thing."
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.
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