Dan rewrites The Avengers to make the best (or maybe worst) superhero tearjerker yet.
Superheroes. Alien invasions. Shawarma…All the makings of one mega pile of testosterone. And shawarma. Not since the original Raimi-directed Spider-Man had we as comic book fans and moviegoers witnessed such a perfect translation of all our favorite Marvel heroes. Don’t you retroactively hate Spider-Man! I will find you. I know where you live. And not since the brief Ghostbuster cameo in Casper had we seen the successful compression of two or more leading characters share the silver screen. You can definitely bash that movie.
Building off of the cinematic continuity of two Iron Man films, one bad and one okay Hulk films, and a Thor fest, there was a certain amount of baggage that the audience brought with them when purchasing a ticket. Oh, and a Captain America movie! I forgot, because the second one was so much better, it erased my memory of the first one. (Kyle’s Edit: Maybe it’s Dan who should watch his step bashing on good superhero movies retroactively.)
If you saw all the lead-in movies, you were armed with the knowledge that a.) The Hulk is so strong he keeps burning through Bruce Banners, b.) Captain America is also the Human Torch but no one seems to talk about it, c.) Thor’s brother Loki is always up to no good, and d.) Robert Downey, Jr. is the balls. Just…the balls. But seeing those previous movies didn’t paint the entire picture: this movie was also directed by Joss “Tell me what you love so that I might kill it” Whedon. That’s right, get used to that name because he’s going to pop up quite often on this series. Joss Whedon at the helm means two things: The large group dynamics will be amazing, and someone is going to die.
Joss knew the audience would expect him to kill someone, so he started laying out the groundwork from the beginning with his eyes set on Iron Man. “Gahh, why does everything have to be about Iron Man?” you yell, spitting out your delicious shawarma (I’m hungry). “BECAUSE PEOPLE LOVE HIM!” is my all-caps reply, and the Cabin in the Woods director knew that. Follow me on this journey of emotions and deception, my faithful readers.
In the first Iron Man, Tony is brutally awoken to the fact that a few angry men with guns can push him around. Even with all his money, if no one is there to buy anything from, he’s useless. So he builds a shell (you can put on your metaphor hats now) and pushes away all the bad guys. Like, that’s literally the motion he makes with his hands, a push. (Kyle’s Edit: Are the ‘metaphor hats’ themselves metaphorical, Dan?) Pepper “My legs are too long” Potts is never really his romantic lead, but rather his one healthy human relationship. So we end with Tony being an insecure overcompensation with one tether keeping him from losing his gold-titanium marbles.
Iron Man 2 comes around, and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang learns the one good thing he’s done is slowly poisoning him. By the end of the movie he is teaming with War Machine and Black Widow and taking life-saving advice from his dead father, who drinks so much he turned into another actor for Captain America (Kyle’s Edit: it was Roger Sterling from Mad Men, right? Can he have a show where we watch Howard Stark drink and sexually harass Peggy Carter?). So Tony now has learned that others can take up his good work, and that he was never really that good at it anyways.
Like a magician, Joss “Firefly” Whedon works these complicated dominoes regarding Iron Man as misdirection so we don’t consider anyone else getting the axe. The film starts with Tony having a fulfilling relationship with Pepper, too… a sure sign he’s gonna get the axe. Then Captain Torch starts yelling at Tony that he’s not self-sacrificing enough. “Foreshadowing?” we thought, as Mr. Dollhouse licked his lips. Finally Tony’s friend, Agent Coulson, the man who was there from the beginning, was killed by…wait…what?
For those of you who’ve seen the gag reel of The Avengers, you know what I mean when I yell “Coulson! You were the finest man I’ve ever known!” The whole time we thought Iron Recovering Addict was going to bite the big one, no one ever considered it would be one of the background characters, mostly because we didn’t realize how much one of those background characters meant to us. Phil “I have a TV show now” Coulson is an everyman. He’s got no powers, no training other than bureaucratic that we were shown, and he wasn’t even the leading “Normie” character. But between his comments about having a girlfriend in Portland (That’s where I live. Am I his girlfriend? I thought I was a boy?) and his collection of The Human America trading cards, we identified with him the most. He’s a fanboy who somehow got on the fun side of the movie screen. He gets the honor of not only dying at the direct hands of the main villain, but getting an awesome last shot off and a one-liner. That’s how you do it, Coulson! (Here come the tears…)
Men who fancied themselves akin to the superheroes wept with those same heroes as Coulson was mourned. Men who identified with Coulson were rocked to the core as the blood-stained trading cards were tossed on the table. This was a still moment in any theater.
Now you may say “In what world would Marvel let War Machine’s friend get killed? He’s too profitable and it would have ruined the movie!” Oh, ye of little faith…sit down and I’ll spin you a web from an alternate universe where things went another way. We’ll call it the “Anti-Shawarma Universe.”
In the ASU, Iron Man flies into the portal with the special-effects bomb and, instead of falling through the portal before it closes, is a few second too late. Let’s say the pivotal change is that Pepper “Legs still too long” Potts actually picked up the phone of her dying boyfriend and they had a bit of a chat. So we are stuck in a ruined-yet-saved New York, with the Avengers staring up at the sky wondering what has become of their friend. “He’s alive, his suit will keep him alive!” yells Ruffalo, eager to get more lines in before they replace him again. “How we get to space?” asks Black Widow, a bump on her head reducing her intellect to that of the Hulk. “Well, we have this cube thing, let’s just use that,” says Thor, tired of talking like a Renaissance festival reject. So they use the cube to get into space, only to find…
…the Guardians of the Galaxy. (Kyle’s Edit: …*Keanu voice* Whoa. That’s almost the Back to the Future Part II ending!)
You tell me that wouldn’t be the best cliffhanger since Wrath of Khan.
Like what you see? Secure enough in your masculinity for more? Dan also works on No Right Answer, the weekly debate show that knows what’s really important: Pointlessly arguing about geek culture.