Originally Posted May 8th, 2012, at Playeraffinity.com
What little doubt remained over Marvel’s grand experiment of merging all its comic book franchises into one summer blockbuster pretty much evaporated this weekend, when The Avengers took audiences and the box office by storm. After being hinted at and set up over four years worth of superhero movies, the unprecedented collaboration paid off big time (+$200 million in 3 days big), and now Marvel is prepping for phase 2 of its theatrical master plan.
While those plans include an Iron Man 3, and sequels to Thor and Captain America (and maybe even a new Hulk movie), the golden goose continues to be The Avengers, and with earth’s mightiest heroes having earned some downtime following their explosive introduction, it leaves it to fans like us to speculate and guess what the future holds for Marvel’s flagship franchise. Here are a few suggestions to make sure that the future of this ultimate crossover doesn't become the story of a one-hit wonder, and if you’re among those few who have yet to actually see The Avengers, be warned, as minor spoilers follow.
Keep Joss Whedon as Writer and Director
This is definitely the most important factor determining the franchises’ future. The actors have all signed on for multi-film deals, but a return for writer and director Joss Whedon is still in question. The announcement of his involvement in The Avengers was the first big indicator to fans that Marvel was taking the project as seriously as they should have, and it’s hard to envision anyone having more clout in geek circles than Whedon. His TV background certainly didn’t hamstring the film’s flashy visuals, but it’s his ability to create a sympathetic character out of just about anyone that allowed The Avengers to be more than just a big dumb action movie. He’s just a fantastic storyteller, and anyone looking to fill his shoes will be hard pressed to accomplish anything half as charming, emotional, and well-constructed as what Whedon did in The Avengers.
Expand the Team
While Marvel will definitely be trying to get some of its lesser known heroes into their own pictures before Avengers 2 (Edgar Wright sounds like he’d give-up his first born to do an Ant-Man movie), that shouldn’t limit the roster to just folks with a film under their belts. Hawkeye and Black Widow were successfully integrated as full members of the team despite previously only appearing in cameos, but the Avengers have had such a huge and constantly changing roster over the years, that throwing in a B-team wouldn’t hurt. The X-Men movies proved that audiences can get a quick handle on superpowered second-string heroes, so there’s no reason folks like Wasp, Black Panther, or Ms. Marvel can’t make their debuts here. Keep them around as side characters or cameos that can bounce off of the founding members, or be used as cannon fodder. Speaking of which...
Create a Greater Sense of Danger
By the time The Avengers rolls into its last act, and the team has finally assembled, it’s hard to imagine anyone or anything stopping them, whether it’s an alien army, or a malevolent demigod. Yes, the death of Agent Coulson was sudden and wrenching (in other words, classic Whedon), but we need to really see our heroes in danger if the pay-off for their triumphs is going to be exciting. Of course, killing off any of the big four would be crazy when they have their own franchises to carry, and already there are rumours of Black Widow and Hawkeye getting their own movies, but by the time Avengers 2 finally arrives, it may be time to dispose of a few members in the returning cast. It might sound harsh, but a surprise death or two would really raise the stakes, and help shore up the dramatics in a series that’s already mastered being fun.
Let’s See Avengers Tower
The end of The Avengers leaves Stark Tower in desperate need of some renovations, and it’s hinted at that the skyscraper will become the team’s new base of operations. While the S.H.I.E.L.D helicarrier was a decent enough place to bring all the Avengers together, it’s made abundantly clear that an aircraft housing guys like Hulk and Thor is pretty dangerous when 50, 000 feet in the air. Putting them up in Avenger mansion would be a definite downgrade from a flying fortress, so the Tower is easily the most stylish option from the source material. Giving the team a place to call their own would help maintain the sense of community amongst the superfolks, and would be a great location to fill with little Marvel Easter eggs, the same way Odin’s Vault hid clues in Thor.
It’s Called the Marvel Universe for a Reason
Watching Hulk steer a robo-centipede into Grand Central Station was pretty cool, but there’s only so many ways to blow-up a major metropolitan city. Moving the action out of New York, and even off-planet, would help capture the immense scope many of The Avengers’ best stories have. Thor did a great job of simplifying the complicated Norse mythology behind the God of Thunder so that instead of being some sort of deity, he and his fellow Asgardians were essentially just space vikings, creating a precedent for galaxy-spanning adventures. It doesn’t have to be The Avengers: Mission on Mars, but exploring the wider reaches of the Marvel Universe even just a bit would really solidify the franchises’ reputation as an adaptation true to the source material.
Handle Thanos with Care
So unless you’re well-versed in your comic book lore, you were probably wondering who the smirking purple space ape in the non-shawarma related post-credits sequence was. That was Thanos, a death-worshipping alien from Saturn’s moon Titan, and he’s among Marvel’s biggest bads. Having him as the villain in Avengers 2 would support a lot of the things we’ve asked for here: Thanos is an interesting, extremely deadly villain in the Marvel universe, and would present an unprecedented threat to The Avengers, but he’d also be a tricky adversary to pull off correctly. He’s literally obsessed with Death, the female personification of mortality, so his motivations are more than a little unorthodox, and his costume, even compared to the guy’s like Cap and Thor, is kinda ridiculous. We’re not saying he’d be impossible to recreate for theatres, it’s just that it might be hard for audiences to buy a pyjama wearing death-fetishist with a penchant for jewellery as being the greatest for to face The Avengers, so a little bit of tinkering to the established character might be necessary.