Sunday, 25 March 2018

Indefinite Avengers

After watching the various trailers for Avengers: Infinity War, it seems to me there are good reasons to hope that Anthony and Joe Russo will direct this (penultimate?) Avengers sequel with the same tone of generally quite serious drama that they brought to their two Captain America pictures in the vast sprawling multi-verse of Marvel’s superhero-cinema franchise (MCU). Although moments of humour appeared in Winter Soldier and Civil War, both movies offered a largely sober variation of Marvel themes. Counter-balancing the outright comedy and/ or inane jokiness that's spoilt (like Thor: Ragnarok), or even ruined (see Deadpool), other Marvel movie adventures, especially since the company was acquired by Disney, is the main challenge for Infinity War.

This is a curse upon many faithful genre adaptations of Marvel adaptations. Comic-book movies as epic and varied as Ang Lee’s Hulk, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, or Zack Snyder’s Watchmen and Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice have all proved that comics can be taken seriously and turned into screen drama. This also demonstrates that mannered approaches like parody and superhero spoofs by other directors merely owe a debt to the men-in-tights legacy of Adam West’s (agreeably?) farcical Batman: The Movie and TV series of the 1960s. The point here is that comicbook-derivative comedy has been done, and lazily repeated, so often that it’s about time for some more radically impressive and melancholic/ darker forms of cinematic adventures for classic superheroes.         

As a cosmic villain who represents death, the arrival of Thanos on Earth should launch a killing spree, not simply a threat of defeat in combat for the established teams of heroes. One of the problems with Civil War is that none of the main characters died, and that weakened the impact of its drama. Thanos is the bad guy who spoils everybody’s fun. If he’s not going to kill any heroes, he is likely to fail as a dangerous or effective opponent for the most powerful Avengers. Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor have all enjoyed a trilogy of cinema outings each, and so perhaps their characters, along with Hawkeye, Black Widow, and the Hulk should be ‘retired’ from the current Avengers roster. In a worst-case scenario, Thanos could kill all of them in his efforts to acquire infinite powers, and this would leave a newer team of Avengers primed and eager for vengeance in the next movie. Doctor Strange and Captain Marvel should lead the Vision, Scarlet Witch, Falcon, Black Panther, Spider-Man, Valkyrie, plus Ant-Man and the Wasp, as the (final?) Avengers line-up. To be honest, I don’t really care much about War Machine. He was always just ‘Iron Man lite’, anyway. And, likewise Cap's buddy Bucky Barnes. Even when Bucky is reformed/ re-purposed from Winter Soldier to White Wolf, he’s only a super-soldier knock-off.   

Alternatively, for starters, I’d like to see Thor get his hammer back. Perhaps Doc Strange could put the broken metal together and restore its magic? Thor without Mjolhir is like Dr Who without a Tardis, or James Bond without a gadget-car. Infinity War appears likely to establish that, without his ‘signature’ shield, Steve Rogers is no longer Captain America. So, basically, he has become Nomad (an alternative identity for Rogers from the comics). It follows that the god of thunder really does need a hammer because, along with his red cape, it’s a traditional and fundamental part of his character in Marvel comics lore. Thor’s hammer is canonical, his new axe is not. If Mjolhir is gone forever, Marvel might as well get rid of Thor... and so I return to my suggestion that killing off all the original Avengers (the main quartet of Cap, Shellhead, Goldilocks, and Hulk, in particular) might be such a great idea for Infinity War. It would fulfil hypnotised Stark’s premonition from Avengers: Age Of Ultron, and sets up the next response team to do some proper avenging, directed by the Russo brothers, in the still-untitled concluding Avengers movie.

No comments: