27 Jan 2010

Thought Balloon: The Ultimate Avengers?

By Matt T
With the Avengers movie a couple years away (shifting deadlines means 2012 is pencilled in at the moment) it's worth looking at the possible basis for the amalgamation of Marvel's recent cinematic properties. After all Iron Man 2, Thor, The First Avenger: Captain America, Iron Man and Incredible Hulk will all lead into a huge blockbuster involving the group taking on some massive foe, no doubt triumphing for the greater good. The question of the basis really only results in one response: The Ultimates. Or, more accurately, the first arc. In this 2002 series the Ultimate universe gained Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Nick Fury, Ant Man and the Wasp in a book that gained plenty of accolades. Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch were on rare form, creating a stunning end product surprisingly light on action but with the kind of blockbuster pacing that makes it prime material for a movie. If rumours of the Captain America cinematic outing being set during WWII are true, the first issue would be ripe for adaptation, as SHIELD find a frozen Cap and proceed to thaw him out.

The prologue looks to be the conclusion of Cap's own film, with the sabotage of the Nazi's suspiciously futuristic missile. In order to make it less necessary to watch the Cap film before getting into the Avengers movie, which plenty of people may well do, I can't see the flick kicking off in the 1940s. Bring us up to modern times with a portion of the team already in place. I can't believe the Hulk will feature too prominently after his last film which, although decent, didn't exactly set the world alight. Ant Man is tied up with Edgar Wright who has stated that Hank Pym may be used, but more than likely as a mentor character rather than in the title role, although the silence on any kind of pre-production for Ant-Man makes me wonder how long Marvel will wait before wiping the slate clean on that one.Cap aside, Tony Stark is another of the three members already committed to celluloid the line up, which makes me wonder who else will complete the group. Obviously Thor is a shoe-in, as his Branagh-directed epic will conclude in Midgard with membership to the group very much on the cards. Jeremy Renner has been recently rumoured to turn up as Hawkeye, which would be a cracking bit of casting following his performance in The Hurt Locker, which would give the likes of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch possible membership at the same time. Granted Magneto's appearance in all three X-Men films, and nothing in the way of mentions as to their existence, may make it a slim chance, but the team will need bodies and both are part of the classic line-up as well as the newer incarnation.

Black Widow is also a strong possibility after Scarlett Johansson's casting in Iron Man 2, but without knowing how well the character is handled, or what side of the fence she falls on, it's tricky to predict if she'll turn up at all. Large teams of characters, even those established within their own movies, are historically bloody hard to handle in the space of 90 or more minutes, so my guess would be the group will be kept to between five and six. With Cap, Iron Man and Thor already in, that leaves two or three spaces to fill. Nick Fury, although 'on team' can't be considered a fully-fledged member due to his lack of powers, making him an advisor of sorts. Hawkeye is the strongest possibility, with Ant Man following close behind along with Black Widow. Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, although exciting prospects, would be tricky to introduce and maintain making them outside bets. At least one female member would be guaranteed though, which may well bring the Wasp back into contention, even if any spousal abuse sub-plots would be ditched in favour of a family-friendly rating and Hank Pym not being prominent until the Ant-Man movie.

One character yet to appear in any strong rumours is the Vision, who would surely be cinema-friendly when you consider the impressive CGI creations in Avatar, as well as his abilities offering some interesting potential for action sequences. Doug Jones could easily make the android his own after impressive work in Hellboy 2 as well as being one of the few decent things in Rise Of The Silver Surfer. If one of the female characters were to turn up, I'd be hopeful for the Scarlet Witch played by Evan Rachel Wood, even if her fleet-footed sibling fails to make an appearance.

Anywho, with the main team line-up somewhere approaching up to spec, the foe(s) for the team need to be established. With any origin movie the enemy needs to be of a sufficient enough threat to create a believable reason to force the team together, but also not overly distracting to take the focus away from the group's formation. Ultron would be fantastic as a way of introducing the Vision in a classic ‘mole’ twist, referencing his first appearance in the Avengers comic, which would also contrast perfectly with Cap's 'kick him in the face and let God sort 'em out' old school ethics. The more these characters are involved the more Hank Pym would need to be in some way referenced, again calling the Ant Man movie into question.
Continuing on a technology/time travel slant would be Kang (although the costume would need some work to not ridiculous on the big screen), once again contrasting with Cap and putting Iron Man's supposedly futuristic tech to shame. Being the master manipulator he is I could see the despot from the future forming his own team in retaliation to an arse-whooping from the Avengers, which could lead to potential sequel material.

The Skrulls also appear in the second arc of The Ultimates first outing and have both ties to Cap's WWII escapades and some current evilness, as well as being the kind of foes that can throw numerous canon fodder at the team primed for a good thrashing. So, an amalgamation of the first twelve issues ending in a bloody big punch-up between alien vessels and the team, hopefully concluding in a cameo from Hulk to end the scrap in spectacular style. That's my two pence worth anyway, by all means agree/disagree/call me a muppet below if you like!


Matt Clark said...

Firstly, you're a muppet, other Matt! ;)

Secondly, and bearing in mind this is all pure speculation (unless you know something we don't?!) I reckon they'll pinch bits from Millar's Ultimates, but it won't be a straight adaptation.

There's a chance Loki may appear seeing it was his antics that got the original Avengers together, and they guy playing him in Branagh's movie apparently signed a multi-film contract.

Aaannnd.... there's no way they'd have an all-white team. Black Panther, maybe?

I still find it slightly amazing that they'll be an Avengers flick on our screen in a couple of years.

Tom P said...

Great little write up Matt. It will be interesting when the film comes out to see how close our predictions were! I think the Ultimates is a perfect comic book but it will be hard to adapt with the other films set before it. I think they have confirmed Cap will lead strait in to Avengers and in a way it should. the characters have to established in the other films so we care about them. so I expect the films main focus will be Cap, Stark, Thor and Nick Fury I would like to see the Pym's. Maybe just as research scientist to be built upon in future films. The Hulk should be dropped in at the end as a big super weapon. I would like to see Ross in charge, keeping him heavily drugged until he's needed a bit like in Ultimate Power. The Skrulls would be my enemy of choice, set up in the Cap Movie but only as a lurking menace(with Red Skull as main big bad)The one thing I hope they learn from the truly great Ultimate stuff is to make S.H.I.E.L.D a strong military force. Love seeing the Avengers riding around with that gear. It just looks cool. I could talk about what I would do all night but im feeling lazy and don't want to type any more. Save my full rant for a beer and a pub! Cant wait to see these films. Geek-out

Matt T said...

Not sure if Loki will work on his own, surely he's far too much of a Thor villain to work within the Avengers movie? Might be good as part of a villain team-up though....

Stewart R said...

I am personally hoping that they stay closer to the original comics than the Ultimate universe but I know the powers that be seem to prefer the newer version of events for transition to the big screen.

One thing that'll probably prevent Quicksilver and Scarlett Witch making it to the screen for an Avengers movie could be Fox's hold over anything 'mutant' or X-based as they hold the rights and I wouldn't be surprised to see Quicksilver turn up in X-Men: First Class when that comes about.

I also get the feeling that Marvel may be waiting to see just what return Iron Man 2 gets at the box office before commiting characters. If it does better at the box office than the first film by a fair margin, and the chances are that it will, I'd expect to see CGI-heavy characters like Hulk and Vision to play bigger parts in the Avengers movie.