MovieBob - Intermission
4 Marvel Universe Continuity Gags We Actually Want to See

Bob "MovieBob" Chipman | 4 Jul 2014 12:00
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marvel watcher

Let's not beat around the bush: Stan Lee -- by all reliable accounts an overall good guy and the face/voice of the Marvel Universe for generations, is getting up there in years. And while he's had no serious health scares of recent, basic logic dictates that at some point he'll probably have to dial back his workload -- which has included "spotlight" cameo appearances in almost all of the Marvel movies.

Here's a thought (and one I know I'm not the first to suggest): Why not make whatever his "last" cameo turns out to be a doozy?

One of the most powerful (and yet, per the rules of the genre, least effectual) figures in the Marvel Universe is (or, rather was...) Uatu: The Watcher, a nigh-immortal being who exists to observe but not interfere (except in special cases, aka always) in the world's affairs. He can be anywhere, see everything, and has been known to assume disguises.

You see where this is going.

Would it not be a fine sendoff if, after whichever walk-on he's decided will be the last, Marvel's most recent "random guy who looks like Stan Lee" were to duck offscreen to somewhere discreet and reveal himself as having been The Watcher this entire time -- thus implicitly suggesting that even the "other studio" Marvel movies at least have that in common -- before blinking off for parts unknown?

marvel squadron

Back when they weren't both IP-farms for massive multinational media conglomerates, Marvel and DC's professional rivalry would occasionally get... well, a little childish. They'd make fun of each others' characters and books, call one another out in editorials, drop dismissive references into dialogue, etc. They both did it all throughout the Silver Age, but Marvel was far and away the champ: They made a whole team of characters (and a universe to put them in) to make fun of DC's big guns.

Originally introduced as "The Squadron Sinister" (later retconned to be a separate, evil clone team) The Squadron Supreme are a team of superheroes from "Earth-712" who are nakedly-obvious analogues of DC's core Justice League: Hyperion (Superman), Power Princess (Wonder Woman), Amphibian (Aquaman), Doctor Spectrum (Green Lantern), Nighthawk (Batman), Skrullian Skymaster (Martian Manhunter) and The Whizzer (The Flash).

The initial "big idea" may have been to give fans a version of the Avengers vs. Justice League battle they were unlikely to ever see otherwise, but in subsequent appearances The Squadron became (alternately) a way to subtly mock DC's seeming "out of touch"-ness by highlighting the goofier or more old-fashioned elements of their heroes versus Marvel's more of-the-moment style and also a way for Marvel's writers to (almost) play with the other sandbox's vintage toys. Still, the order of the day was mostly parody; a typical example being Amphibian's real name being Kingsley Rice. (Aquaman's real name is Arthur Curry. Ha ha.)

The Squadron were perennial "event" enemies/allies for The Avengers in the 70s, but in September of 1985 (yes -- a full year before Alan Moore's thematically-similar Watchmen) then Marvel EiC Mark Grunewald used them as the subject of a 12-issue maxiseries in which The Squadron decide to stop drawing the line at crimefighting and use their superpowers to turn their world into a Utopia -- even if not everyone living there is in favor of the idea. Nighthawk is against it, and when things inevitably go south he ends up leading a revolt against his former teammates. A second reimagining, J. Michael Straczynski's Supreme Power, took the DC-parody angle in an even darker direction.

As far as the movies are concerned? At some point, unless the superhero wave really does come crashing to a halt in the near future, there's going to be a stretch where the Justice League and the Avengers are going to be more-or-less in direct competition at the box-office. So why not acknowledge the elephant in the room and bring in The Squadron to have some fun at The Distinguished Competition's expense? Granted, a whole team of costumed buffoons doing riffs on Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck might be a little on the "light" side for an Avengers event; but maybe they'd be a fun (to say nothing of formidable) obstacle for a more comedy-inflected franchise like Ant-Man, Guardians or Iron Man?

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