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.|
|Nick Fury, Director of SHIELD.|
|Nick Fury in Iron Man 2. For him, this is apparently casual-wear.|
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.|
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:
|Cobie Smulders as Deputy Director Maria Hill|
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.|
|More from Comiccon -- these uniforms are accurate, as far as I can tell.|
|The captain and bridge crew of the USS Kelvin in Star Trek (2009).|
|Black Widow on the bridge of the SHIELD Helicarrier.|
CONTINUED IN: Part 2: Tony Stark, Pepper Potts, and Bruce Banner.
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.