Monday, 7 May 2012

The costumes and characters of The Avengers. Part 1: SHIELD.

This post contains no plot spoilers.

In many ways The Avengers is comparable to the 2009 Star Trek reboot. Both are major Hollywood juggernauts with a huge pre-existing fanbase; both had to deal with the problem of setting up a cast of well-known characters in a way that would seem new and fresh. My trust in Joss Whedon's writing was the only thing that kept me from being skeptical when it was announced that The Avengers would include a lot of adversarial posturing between the teammates, but the fact is that the type of team dynamic that drives a two-hour movie is very different from the dynamic that drives a long-running TV show or comic series. The story of a collection of superheroes meeting and immediately becoming BFFs would be somewhat lacking in dramatic tension.
Maria Hill and Phil Coulson, Agents of SHIELD.
SHIELD represents the unromantic side of the Marvel universe. Individually, each of the Avengers has their own origin story and hero's journey, Steve Rogers' probably being the most fairytale-like: a poor boy growing up during a time of war, gaining strength thanks to his goodness of heart and spirit, and using that strength to protect others before finally sacrificing himself for the greater good. Then there's Thor, an alien prince whose greatest enemy is his own hubris, who must learn to control his temper and act with empathy before he can regain his powers. But in the context of a world very much like our own, these characters cannot realistically survive to become heroes without some more cynical and practical-minded external force buffering them from the rest of society.

Nick Fury, Director of SHIELD.
Nick Fury didn't make much of an impression on me in the previous Marvel movies, aside from the the fact that his presence was telegraphing the possibility of a future Avengers team-up. Samuel L Jackson is one of those actors who can steal the show merely by playing himself, which is great for a cameo role but doesn't have a great deal of emotional or intellectual impact. But Fury's role in The Avengers is far more fleshed-out, and SHIELD is very clearly Nick Fury's baby. And Jackson's as well, in a way, since he originally had a hand in pressuring Marvel to increase SHIELD's presence in the first Iron Man film.
Nick Fury in Iron Man 2. For him, this is apparently casual-wear.
Fury's costume should be the silliest at SHIELD. Most people who wear ankle-length leather coats 24/7 tend to resemble late-1990s Blade or Matrix wannabes, but Fury gets away with it because he's Samuel L Jackson and he can probably have you vanished if you look at him funny. The coat should be cumbersome, limiting and easy to trip over, but since we see Fury firing rocket-launchers at fighter jets while running around his giant invisible flying aircraft-carrier, I'll handwave all that. Either way, we know that Fury's pretty fond of that coat because he wears it all the time, even when he's meeting Tony Stark for breakfast in Iron Man 2. Fury's costume in Avengers is tougher than the more relaxed outfits we see in his previous appearances, though, with a visible thigh-holster and a bulletproof vest. The vest I find particularly telling because while he spends most of the movie in his own home base, the Helicarrier, he still feels the need to be armed and protected at all times. He didn't survive this long by taking any chances.  

The Nick Fury we see in Avengers is far more interesting than the two-dimensional hardass we met in those prequel cameos. He's been fleshed out into someone whose life and work extends far beyond the Avengers Intiiative, who always has to be thinking five steps ahead of his enemies, his superiors and his underlings, and who is altogether a far more morally ambiguous character than any of the other "good guys".
Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson of SHIELD, alongside Thor's biceps, triceps and deltoids.
Agent Coulson is one of my favourite characters in the Marvel universe. Originally appearing in a minor role in Iron Man, Marvel quickly realised that Clark Gregg's sly, understated humour was gaining him a significant fanbase. I've read interviews where Joss Whedon et al seemed to think that Coulson's popularity is down to the fact that he provides an everyman character for the audience to identify with, but I'm inclined to think it's more to do with his quiet competence providing a counterpoint to the bombastic, showy nature of characters like Tony Stark. In a way he's the Alfred Pennyworth or Ianto Jones of The Avengers -- often in the background, but never unimportant.

Coulson's role at SHIELD is never really specified. He's high up on the food chain, working directly alongside Fury and usually getting sent on missions that require someone to act as a liaison or negotiator between SHIELD and a potential threat. He's kind of the superhero babysitter, and seems to be a person who is very aware of his own image -- a small, unassuming man with a suit and a nametag who will pose no apparent threat to the gargantuan egos of people like Tony Stark and Thor. Perfectly happy to act in the beta-male role while remaining quietly confident in his own abilities. The generic two-piece suit is very much part of that deceptively bland persona, but I enjoy how it's evolved over the course of his Marvel movie appearances. In Iron Man, for example, he looked quite different:
The original Coulson was meant to be more of a nerdy beaurocrat, a G-Man who spends most of the film trying but failing to arrange a meeting with Tony Stark. And his suit does not fit at all! The sleeves are way too long, it isn't tailored around the shoulders or waist, and it generally makes him look like a bit of dweeb when compared to Tony's billionaire playboy wardrobe. Whereas in The Avengers, Coulson's Dolce & Gabbana (seriously) fits like a glove, with one precise inch of shirt-cuff emerging from the sleeves.
Cobie Smulders as Deputy Director Maria Hill
Maria Hill, Nick Fury's deputy, is our first real look at a more typical SHIELD agent. The pre-movie advertising gave the impression that she was going to have a far greater role than she actually did, and I suspect that this oversaturation of Cobie Smulders/Maria Hill publicity was because they were very aware that out of an ensemble cast of around 15 characters, only three are women, and only one of those women is in a starring role. While The Avengers wasn't explicitly sexist, it did follow the Hollywood habit of setting all action/adventure stories in some parallel universe where women only make up about 25% of the population. This isn't a criticism of Hill's characterisation, which was more or less what you'd expect from a businesslike second-in-command/expository dialogue character. The cast is already so big that there's no time to expand every character, but the fact that Cobie Smulders was featured so prominently at the Avengers premieres and press events does rather highlight the fact that the first-tier cast consists of seven men plus Scarlett Johansson.
Another issue that The Avengers shares with the Star Trek reboot is that both franchises originate in the '60s, and the characters are now so beloved that augmenting the lineup in a remake/adaptation would alienate fans. This troubles me because while I find it irritating and belittling to watch so many movies where women are under-represented in token or love-interest roles, I'd still react negatively if the next installment in the Star Trek reboot series suddenly introduced three or four new Enterprise crewmembers to a cast that already feels whole and complete. With The Avengers, however, there is the option of including a whole host of female characters from the extended Marvel universe, even women who were in the Avengers team themselves, like Wasp. Because this film was the product of a long game of semi-prequels -- Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and The Hulk -- it would've been difficult to introduce another new first-tier character this time round, but I hold out hope that the Avengers sequel(s) will include more lady superheroes. Or Darcy Lewis from Thor. Because Darcy is awesome.

Recreation of the Helicarrier interior, at Comiccon 2011.
I have mixed feelings about the SHIELD uniforms as we see them in The Avengers. The fitted jumpsuits/trousers-shirt combos worn by most of the agents onboard the Helicarrier don't look too bad, but I'm a little confused as to why they're wearing them. They look like field uniforms, but we already know that field agents either wear normal clothes like the suit-wearing Coulson, or out-and-out military gear (like the soldiers sent to pick up Bruce Banner and guard Loki when he's on the Helicarrier). Also, the people on the bridge of the Helicarrier are analysts and pilots, doing what essentially amounts to desk work. Although Hill and Fury do both carry sidearms, the fact that female SHIELD agents have the option of wearing a skirt and heels indicates to me that the agents on the bridge of the Helicarrier are not expected to be battle-ready.
More from Comiccon -- these uniforms are accurate, as far as I can tell.
Joss Whedon doesn't seem to believe in the idea of "background characters". A lot of the time, his characters are the background characters. Just look at Cabin In The Woods. In the context of The Avengers, this meant that even the dialogue-free SHIELD agent extras got their chance to shine, reacting to Tony Stark's posturing and, at one point, playing Galaga on one of the Helicarrier's display screens when they were meant to be working. But while I always enjoy efforts to give personality to background extras, I'm still not wild about the whole jumpsuit/catsuit thing. Jumpsuits are near-universal in sci-fi/superhero movies, and the current zeitgeist (X-Men; Star Trek 2009; Prometheus) is for the slightly more flattering option of figure-hugging bodysuits with concealed structure and muscle padding. They look more like diving wetsuits than the spandex costumes we know from Adam West's Batman, and even musclebound types like Chris Evans get to have a little shoulderpad action going on.
The captain and bridge crew of the USS Kelvin in Star Trek (2009).
It's all well and good for the crew of fit 30-somethings on the Helicarrier be kitted out in catsuits every day, but even if people in real life were as uniformly slim and well-muscled as the average SHIELD agent appears to be, I still doubt they'd be entirely comfortable about wearing that to work every day. Particularly if their entire job is to sit in front of a computer screen and zap any pigeons that look like they might be getting near to one of the Helicarrier's rotor blades. The best reason I can think of for the ubiquity of pointless jumpsuit-wearing is that it helps to normalise the costumes worn by the superheroes themselves. Captain America's and Black Widow's skin-tight outfits -- both manufactured by SHIELD -- bear more than a passing resemblance to the SHIELD uniform jumpsuits. 
Black Widow on the bridge of the SHIELD Helicarrier.
Oh, and a postscript: The interior of the Helicarrier cracks me up, a little. It looks so shiny and awesome, but I'm not convinced that it was such a great decision to have smooth floors and no barriers on the raised walkways... on a ship that spends half the time flying and half the time in the water, and is equipped for mobile combat. How many times a day do you think people slip over and brain themselves on one of the consoles? Seriously, I want to baby-proof the corners of every single one of those Stark Industries display screens.

CONTINUED IN:  Part 2: Tony Stark, Pepper Potts, and Bruce Banner.


Links
The Pentagon Quit The Avengers Because of ‘Unreality’
Marvel Avengers wallpapers.
Interview with the super-dreamy Clark Gregg about Agent Coulson (after Iron Man 2; before The Avengers).
SPOILERY interview with Clark Gregg about his role in The Avengers.

47 comments:

  1. I love your costume reviews!

    It's not just the female SHIELD agents in skirts that wear heels--even the women in jumpsuits do. I found it completely distracting during the movie that all women wore 4 inch wedges that noticeably affected their gaits. Especially during the Black Widow's fight scenes!

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  2. hellotailor7 May 2012 14:10

    oh, man. seriously? i thought i saw a couple of SHIELD ladies in flats, but i'm not sure. maria seemed to be wearing flat boots, probably because she's tall. it's often really hard to see peoples' feet in movies, though -- even though i was kind of looking out for it on the second viewing ;)

    re: natasha's costume, this was really annoying for me. in the promo pics you could definitely see her high heels, although in the film itself (avengers rather than iron man) i really didn't pick up on them at all. someone did suggest to me that she was wearing heels purely because she was so much shorter than most of the cast -- i mean, she's shorter even than RDJ and jeremy renner, who are both about 5'6, so compared to chris evans and hemsworth (especially in their superhero boots) she probably wouldn't even fit into the same shot.

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  3. Good point about the height differential (although she's my height and I don't feel *that* short). I definitely noticed Scarlett walking awkwardly in the heels, especially when they first arrived on the Helicarrier. It was particularly distracting when she was trying to run from the Hulk--she'd have had a much easier time of it in flats!

    Did RDJ wear lifts in this movie?

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  4. Oh, Avengers, how I love thee!

    I think SHIELD is a bit darker than has ever really been addressed. Judging by their manufacturing of WMDs and the two references to torture (one by Coulson in Thor and one by Fury in the Avengers) I would have to agree that they are definitely the unromantic side of the franchise. After all, nothing says ‘mood killer’ quite like waterboarding and nukes. Equally, nothing says ‘the head of a very shady organisation that is good, honest, I promise’ better than the liberal application of leather. Pretty sure Samuel L Jackson is the only man on the planet who could pull that off.

    Coulson is one fly mofo now. D&G? I did not know that! Avengers = pay rise, obviously. Career choice sorted for me then. Though, I’ll pass on the lycra...

    With the jumpsuits, I would guess that the styling is probably down to the desire for uniformity among the drones and the fact that they may be attacked at any moment. I sort of saw the helicarrier as an extension of the normal aircraft carriers and battleships that navies use. And, in the same way that the Navy has everyone in uniform, even the desk jockeys, so does SHIELD. They’re just way more space age than the Navy, which means, obviously, that the uniforms required are lycra. Or anyway, that’s how I rationalised it.

    (Quick query: where did they assemble to hellicarrier? It’s huge, there isn’t a warehouse or hanger in the world that could accommodate that beast. Also, where does it dry dock? I ruin all the fun...)

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  5. It was Galaga, not Space Invaders. /nitpick

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  6. Additionally, from Iron Man to Avengers, even Coulson's ties get a style upgrade. In Iron Man, it looks like a standard four-in-hand, what with the skew to one side. Then in Avengers, he's tying his ties with what looks like a half-windsor.

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  7. I think this post skirts really close to some of the issues I've been trying to work through with both Coulson and, for TDKR, JGL's new character -- while both these movies have decades of characters to pull from, who gets invented as a new character? A white dude.

    The skirts thing makes sense to me, since at least with American military uniforms, female officers are able to wear skirts and heels in regulation (I'm most familiar with Navy uniforms and pumps and skirts are pretty standard).

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  8. hellotailor9 May 2012 08:40

    oh, thanks! :) i've corrected that -- i hadn't heard of galaga until this movie, and didn't catch what tony said.

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  9. hellotailor9 May 2012 09:00

    IMO coulson and jgl's characters aren't quite the same, even though they are both rare additions to old canons. coulson started off as a very minor character who fit quite a specific stereotype (middle-aged, forgettable, generic FBI agent type) and who only became a more major character because of his fan-following/performance in earlier movies. whereas JGL's character is more arbitrary, a second-tier hero in a movie that already has a 30-something white male hero (and who may, possibly, be being groomed to take over in sequels...?) Also the advertising for TDKR seems to be pushing JGL quite hard by cutting more of his scenes into the trailer, etc, even though the audience has very little idea of his role or why we should even care about him.

    i'm more distrustful of christopher nolan than Marvel, since marvel have a better track-record (although far from amazing) WRT their treatment of pre-existing female characters, whereas nolan is already guilty of whitewashing in the batman trilogy, and is pretty much universally crap at writing women in all of his films thus far.

    yeah, i'm not up in arms with the skirts/trousers thing or anything. women definitely had a choice between skirts and trousers, as well, because there was a variety on show. really i'm just a little nonplussed about the shoe situation since they would probably fall over A LOT while attempting to traverse the metal grilles/smooth walkways all over the (moving) helicarrier.

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  10. hellotailor9 May 2012 09:01

    very true! :)

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  11. hellotailor9 May 2012 09:02

    RDJ definitely wore lifts. or was standing in a box for his close-ups with chris evans.

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  12. hellotailor9 May 2012 09:07

    haha coulson is definitely wearing d&g because clark gregg has tweeted about it a fair amount. i suspect there's an actual product placement thing going on there because he's mentioned it on multiple occasions, like answering whenever anyone asks him about the suits on twitter, etc.

    SHIELD is definitely dark, but there isn't really room to explore that thus far. TBH i don't know if a "SHIELD" movie would really work, although i am LOVING the buzz about a possible black widow movie (which would presumably include SHIELD towards the end). starting a SHIELD movie with new characters would be a no-go, and i doubt that either samuel l jackson or clark gregg would helm a movie like this -- jackson being too old, and gregg not having the star power. and Fury is so tied up in Samuel L Jackson at this point that i doubt a prequel movie starring a younger actor would really work. imdb does have a Fury movie listed, but IDK if it's actually legit.

    yeah, agreed re: uniforms and uniformity. the only trouble being that "real" people wouldn't go for catsuits. they'd be wearing more like normal military fatigues, which are generally more practical and easier to make in a one-size-fits-all way.

    no idea where the helicarrier was made. in a dry-dock?? or in segments, possible, assembled in the open sea?

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  13. Don't know if you ever watched it, but one of the things I liked about the 2000s remake of Battlestar Galactica was that despite being a sci-fi show, it had most of the characters wearing pretty normal clothing: either plain suits or uniforms and flight suits that could have come straight out of a modern-day military. Granted, they had a different approach: BSG was trying to move away from the sci-fi element to attract a wider, more serious audience, while Avengers and Star Trek are movies aimed straight at nerds and comic book fans and entirely unashamed about it. Making the SHIELD outfits too realistic-looking might well have detracted from that and highlighted the silliness of the rest of it, but the option was open to them.

    Also: Clark Gregg almost stole this movie, but then Mark Ruffalo stole it back from him. It's a shame neither of them will probably get the chance to play a lead role.

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  14. Despite the heels, Black Widow's costume was still more practical than what she usually wears in the comics...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Black_Widow_1.jpg

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  15. hellotailor9 May 2012 12:31

    yes! i absolutely love BSG. although i'd say that avengers and star trek are both very much mainstream blockbuster movies. "nerds" aren't a niche audience any more -- all the most monetarily successful movies are now sci-fi/fantasy franchises like harry potter, hunger games, iron man, etc.

    BSG's military outfits are great because you can cosplay them just by wearing two vest-tops and some combat trousers!

    mark ruffalo's signed up for a six movie deal, so who knows! plus he got namechecked in A LOT of reviews -- people were very impressed by this movie's hulk/bruce banner, i think.

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  16. hellotailor9 May 2012 12:34

    oh yeah, for sure. but the same could be said for most superhero outfits, especially the ones worn by women. almost all female superheroes' costumes look like stripper gear.

    black widow's outfit in this movie was basically the same as captain america's in terms of eyecandy, so i'm cool with that. i'll be writing a post about the Avengers' own costumes soon! :)

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  17. I don't blame him. Were I wearing D&G, there wouldn't be a person in the world who didn't know. I'm not though, so you're safe.That has to be the most obscure product placement in the world...

    I don't think a SHIELD film would work on its own; films solely about organisations tend not to, you need to central human element too much. And you're right, it doesn't look likely from the perspective of Gregg or Jackson. On the other hand though, depending on where in her life this potential Black Widow sequel occurs, there could be time to investigate SHIELD. They obviously can't go too dark, it'll still be a kids film, but there's room for manoeuvre.

    I just like the fact that these supposed superheroes, the brightest and the best in the world, or at least currently ON the world, are semi-controlled by a very shady organisation indeed. Most people sort of assume SHIELD are the good guys, when I would suggest that they sit in a much more morally grey area. And that film had better be legit! I'm well holding you accountable if it isn't. FACT!

    And the catsuit vs. fatigues thing sort of depends on what the options were. I don't reckon that Nick Fury designed the outfits, so God knows who did. Perhaps they put it out to tender and the people with the best bid were the Tour de France outfitters, I suppose we're lucky it wasn't yellow. If you aren't given the option of fatigues, regardless of how 'normal' you are, you hit that lycra hard. I get the feeling that a lot of money was thrown at SHIELD, either that or they're playing the markets well, and cost-effective probably took a back seat to cool looking.

    You couldn't put something like that together as sea, how would you weld? I'm holding out for a massive dry dock in Antarctica or something. Chilly though...

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  18. hellotailor9 May 2012 12:54

    you can weld underwater. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperbaric_welding and i'm pretty sure things like oil rigs and big ships do get assembled at sea or in docks all the time?

    the black widow movie, which may or may not have been confirmed as of yesterday (???? it got reported but i'm still not sure.) would probably be a prequel/origin story. and as for darkness -- the Batman Begins movies are the same rating as all the Avengers movies, and i'd say they're pretty dark?

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  19. One more comment before I look like I'm hogging this comments section: on the subject of the female characters, I agree the Avengers left something to be desired, but we have Joss Whedon to thank that it wasn't worse. According to one making-of article I read, Marvel were thinking of dropping Black Widow from the movie at one point, and he convinced them that if they did, 'the helicarrier would look like a gay cruise'. (Not that some fans would have any problem with that, I'm sure...)

    As you say, it wasn't really possible to introduce any new major characters in this film, but here's hoping for some more female heroes in the sequels. (I think Ms. Marvel would make a good choice, but there's plenty of others to choose from.)

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  20. I did not know that. Did you, or did you look it up? I thought it would all sort of run if it was under water. (Hidden depths! No pun intended, oh, go on then...) But, yeah, not really my area of expertise. I thought most ships were done in dry docks, but I hadn't really thought about oil rigs. I love how eclectic these comments are!

    Oh no, you've told me now, no take-backs! And in regards to the Batman franchise and the Marvel one, despite the fact that they have the same ratings, I would say that atmospherically they are very different. My brother is 9 and I would take him to the Avengers, but not the new Batman. Not because of its certificate, but rather because of the feel of the film.

    I'm not saying that the Marvel films are tame. Characters drop like flies, and some of the goodies are among them. Equally, some of the main characters in the prequels who are nominally the protagonists, are not shiny good. E.g. the contrast between early Tony Stark and Steve Rogers. But even so, on the whole, the films tend to have a relatively feel good vibe to them. Your friend may die, but if you're the goody, you'll still come out on top after helping others. Whereas in the Batman films, from what I can remember and I haven't watched them in some time, it's not quite as straight forward as that.

    But that doesn't stop the Black Widow film from exploring some dark aspects, just that as it is directly linked to the other Marvel films, it can't be too strong.

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  21. hellotailor9 May 2012 13:51

    um, well i'd seen underwater welding before, and googled it just now to make sure?

    i think a black widow film would by nature be darker though. she's got a VERY deadpan sense of humour, unlike steve's (also fairly deadpan) humour which is very warmhearted, or tony stark's brittle sarcasm/quipping. also, there are probably ways to work around the dark feel of a black widow movie -- for example, most adults would probably see the iron man movies as being about quite a different character than child viewers would. tony's an isolated alcoholic with huge self-esteem and trust issues, after all.

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  22. hellotailor9 May 2012 13:56

    oh yeah, for sure re: joss whedon. i didn't know that they considered dropping black widow from the cast, though! that's ridiculous. even the most thoughtless of action movies have at least a TOKEN woman (although thankfully, with joss whedon there's no such thing as token characters). and of course, the result of this movie is that black widow has been proven to be TOTALLY AWESOME and will (hopefully) get a prequel spinoff movie of her own!

    is ms marvel the one whose new name is Captain Marvel? i'm not super up on comics canon.

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  23. Apparently Ms. Marvel is indeed now known as Captain Marvel! I wasn't aware of that, I'm not up to date on the comics. I just know that she flies around and hits things, which I guess a lot of them do already, but still seems more useful than turning very small (Wasp) or whatever the heck Scarlet Witch does.

    She also has a dumb costume though. Maybe they should just come up with a new character...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ms._Marvel

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  24. hellotailor9 May 2012 14:11

    i think they changed ms marvel's costume when they changed her name to captain marvel. the only reason i know about her is because one of my friends was like, "check it out, they've de-sexisted this character you've never heard of". ;) IDK if her new comic title is out yet, though -- maybe it was only just announced??

    i think scarlet witch does... magic. which is kind of hard to gel with a marvel movie universe whose lynchpin is tony stark, technology king.

    i've heard a lot of stuff about Ant-Man, which... yeah, i can't really see a huge amount of outcry for an ant-man movie?? but who knows.

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  25. You have SEEN underwater welding before? As in, you were there and observed it with your own eyes, or you saw it on the tele? No, no, don't ruin this for me, you were there! I've decided! Your life is so much more exciting than mine...

    Yeah, the first Iron Man was essentially about a war profiteer with all of the above problems who was kidnapped by terrorists. Only later did he become the eponymous hero. (That actually threw me at the time, I thought we'd be straight in with the kicking arse and taking names, I was pleasantly surprised) And that's probably how they will roll with it for Black Widow. A nice bit of depth and darkness, but with a relatively child friendly ending.

    Any word on the inclusion of out favourite pert-arsed archer since Robin Hood? I assume with the established friendship we saw in the Avengers that he has to be in there somewhere. The thing is though, they can't make this film too early, or they'd have to change actors. Hmm, the possibilities...

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  26. hellotailor9 May 2012 14:40

    no... not IRL, i'm afraid. ;) probably in a documentary or something.

    jeremy renner's signed on for at least one Bourne movie so IDK if he'd have time for another franchise?? i'd be quite annoyed if hawkeye got a movie instead of black widow. before i saw avengers i was quite psyched to see more of hawkeye, but having seen the movie i have to say that i found his character totally uncompelling. he forwards the plot, but out of the main cast he's DEFINITELY the least interesting character. basically he does a lot of cool-looking bow stunts that kids will like, i think? so there are probably a lot of 7-year-olds pretending to be hawkeye, but i don't have any particular desire to see a movie about him. unless he was a secondary character to natasha in the black widow movie. that i'd quite like, because i think they could put him in the more emotionally vulnerable role there, which in terms of gender roles would be pretty unusual in an action/spy movie. black widow and hawkeye both had very shitty childhoods/backstories (in different ways), but the impression one gets from the avengers is that black widow knows how to USE her vulnerability whereas there's no real hint of that in hawkeye.

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  27. I'm going to ignore that. In my head, you definitely saw it in real life. I'm feeling generous, perhaps you even had a go.

    Yeah, I've got my eye on the new Bourne film. Not going to lie though, the first time I saw the trailer I legit thought he said his name was 'Cath Kidston' as in the kitschy bag designer. I've got a feeling that I'm going to be really disappointed now when he doesn't hand out lavender soap samples or bake fairy cakes for his floral cake stand. Now that would be a play on gender roles!

    You said in your review with the evil CAPTCHA that you thought Hawkeye was a bit feeble. I agree for the most part (i.e. the whole "my next target" bit) but would also say that it was probably a matter of timing. There simply wouldn't have been enough time to expand him much more. Ironically, the role he played in the first half of the Avengers probably meant he got more screen time/was more important to the plot than he would have otherwise.

    There is definitely room for him to expand and improve though, so I think he would make a good character in any Black Widow films. And yeah, the vulnerability thing is the difference between them. As seen in the fact that Black Widow is, as stated in the film, a spy, not a soldier like Hawkeye. As such, she would have to be more emotionally intelligent I suppose and not just sit on her past difficulties and ignore them. And she was obviously not happy about Hawkeye being compromised. Come on Renner, you'd be a really good damsel in distress. And you'd have ages to design some more over-priced aprons. Win-win!

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  28. hellotailor9 May 2012 15:04

    i don't think hawkeye was poorly acted or poorly written, i just think that it'd be annoying for marvel to make a movie based off a character who had so little meaningful character-focused screentime in Avengers. what i am curious about, though, is the deleted scenes, because i remember seeing some interview a while ago with either jeremy renner or joss whedon talking about the hawkeye in conjunction with Hulk, but in the movie there's like, no hulk/hawkeye action at all so... is that in one of the deleted scenes? i'll be interested to find out.

    i'm psyched for the bourne film because i love all the previous ones! although i am a little suspect as to whether it'll manage to carry on over to a new character.

    the thing about black widow's vulnerability in avengers is that YES she's a spy (unlike any of the others, except fury) but also it's because women are socialised to... deal with vulnerability "more" than men? or deal with it in different ways? so clint, whose backstory is basically a string of betrayals ending in his eventual attachment to SHIELD/the avengers (where his value is down to his capabilities as a field agent/sniper), is a seemingly very tough character who nevertheless seems to be hiding a lot of... well, what movies would probably term "inner pain", LOL. but black widow isn't a person who values herself purely as a military asset, and knows how peoples' minds work. she knows how to be weak and how to use weakness, and how to be emotional and NOT see emotions as one of those weaknesses. it's a role that you don't really EVER see among male action heroes because their strength (physically and otherwise) is usually self-evident to enemies/other characters.

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  29. hellotailor9 May 2012 15:06

    p.s. definitely watch this new black widow fanvid! http://genusshrike.dreamwidth.org/271973.html great song choice.

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  30. No, I thought Renner was good too, and obviously Whedon's writing was magnificent. It was more that Hawkeye was sort of a walking plot point, with, as you say little meaningful character-focussed screentime. Ooh, to the Hulk bit. As in the Hulk himself, or Banner? Both would be extremely interesting. This is yet another reason to salivate in expectation of the DVD. What a lovely image...

    Well, some people are unhappy at the change of director and, by extension, the loss of Matt Damon, but my fingers are still crossed. Go Cath!

    I don't think that sort of understanding of the usefulness of weakness is entirely foreign to male characters, but I would have to agree that for the most part, these are not qualities you see in most blockbuster heroes. 'No Homo' and all that unpleasantness, it's just not particularly 'masculine' apparently. Which is all the more reason for a Black Widow film where her strong hand in this area is used to its fullest potential against thuggish baddies. Whilst Hawkeye looks on wistfully with all his secret pain. In Budapest. I really want there to be an explanation of Budapest.

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  31. hellotailor9 May 2012 15:32

    there are definitely male characters that use/are aware of their own weakness (physical or emotional) and use it to their advantage, but it's always Xander-fr0m-Buffy type characters, or the geek/academics, rather than the typical alpha-male action hero types. and i can't think of ANY scenario where a male character did what natasha does during her interrogation with loki.

    WRT the hulk, i'm pretty sure it was the Hulk himself because (i think?) the hulk and hawkeye go together in the avengers cartoons a fair amount, plus bruce banner is very much tony's purview.

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  32. mercurybard9 May 2012 15:53

    I am convinced that Pepper is responsible for Coulson's snazzy new dress sense.

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  33. I was pretty distracted by shots of Maria Hill's boots-- I'm pretty sure they're wedge heels, and they looked pretty high, although I couldn't tell that as well.

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  34. Things you notice on the 4th viewing of Avengers, when you are basically only looking at the details of the costumes because you know everything else by heart: he's definitely wearing D&G because you can see the "DG" design on the lining of his jacket in his first scene with Steve, on the plane.

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  35. Last time I watched I was looking for that specifically and I'm convinced that Maria Hill was wearing wedge boots. It's subtle, so maybe they were just trying to make her taller. But it definitely affects her gait in the early scene where she's following Fury down a staircase, in the shot from above. I could tell she had to be wearing heels.

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  36. I vote both. He was wearing lifts the whole time, and was also standing on a box for the close up scene of arguing with Cap. They looked almost the same height there, and even lifts couldn't do that.

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  37. gotta say, i'm now kind of invested in the concept of pepper/coulson girl talk friendship where they sip wine together and discuss how irritatingly inefficient everyone else is. although i like to think that his dress sense is all him, and that maybe he wears really bad suits as a kind of undercover disguise sometimes??

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  38. Joss Whedon's writing has been the reason for such a large following of the fans, and I agree that a two hour movie is quite another venture than a TV serial . The costumes look great
    http://www.mycostume.co.uk

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  39. Love the article!! Very nice analysis and expertly written.

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  40. I'm loving these articles. :) Can I also just say that I love how the shot you've got of the ST2009 uniforms is a shot of the bridge of the Kelvin, in which there's the captain, played by the guy who was the terrorist leader from "Iron Man", and in the foreground just turning to look at him, Chris Hemsworth playing Papa Kirk. :) Ah, crossover.

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  41. yes!! i love these crossovers. actually i recently saw an actor somewhere who looked like a cross between chris pin and chris hemsworth, and i was like, GEORGE KIRK!!!!!!

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  42. Thank you! :))

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  43. alex mitchell13 June 2012 22:33

    I'll have to disagree w/ your assessment in regards to Hawkeye. I think his lack of "meaningful" interaction is why we need a movie based on him; to bring his interactions up to speed.

    I'm all for a Black Widow movie (and w/Hawkeye in it as "damsel in distress" even) but I want a Hawkeye movie also. BW has been in Iron Man 2 and Avengers. She's had a lot of more screen time than Hawkeye--what 2 minutes?--in Thor and this movie, where he played a villian for most of it due to being mind-controlled.

    I want his (and BW's) origin stories/movies (just not in the same movie). I think both characters deserve that. I actually want Hawkeye's first, then BW although it looks like BW got the nod. B/c then the BW movie would tie in to Hawkeye's movie also (maybe that how it could end--with Hawkeye meeting BW), then TBC in BW.

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  44. Couple Costumes23 August 2012 03:31

    I really love this costume reviews! I am really planning to wear one of the costume of the Avengers. With it's high gross of this beautiful movie there's no doubt many would wear any of the avengers costume to a Halloween/Costume party.

    I like to wear Deputy Director Maria Hill outfit, it gives a strong personality to a woman and that's what I like on this costume. Thank you for having this topic, you get all reader's attention.

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  45. That was a lovely post you did on avengers costumes. It was quite informing and it really helped. It provided with information that I was not aware of before.

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  46. The regulations say:

    S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives wore distinctive uniforms designating rank. These uniforms were required dress at all S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters for all operatives (except for Level-1 Directors and specially authorized Technician class specialists) and at official public functions and overt
    field maneuvers. Agents involved in covert field operations were expected to dress in plainclothes. Agents involved in paramilitary operations frequently wore special commando paraphernalia over their regular uniforms. (S.H.I.E.L.D. agents still wear standard S.H.I.E.L.D.
    uniforms when engaged in official S.H.I.E.L.D. business.)

    So Coulson and all New Mexico group dress as covert, and you can see the blue uniform under the fatigues in combat groups.

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  47. About the uniforms on helicarrier : evil overlord list #138. All members of my Legions of Terror will have professionally tailored uniforms. If the hero knocks a soldier unconscious and steals the uniform, the poor fit will give him away.

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