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First Iron Man. Next The Avengers. Marvel Looks for a Second Hit

Iron Man. Next The Avengers. Marvel Looks for a Second Hit” width=”560″/>

Nick Nadel’s Tuesday column examines the increasingly busy intersection between comic books and the movies.

Remember The Avengers movie? You know, the one Marvel plans to build all of their upcoming films around? The one everyone was buzzing about until The Dark Knight came along and stole its thunder? Well, it’s back in the news: Gossip blogs recently ran a photo of Eva Longoria clutching a stack of Avengers comics outside of the Marvel offices, kicking off rampant speculation that she’s being considered for the Wasp role. (A conclusion no doubt jumped to since the Wasp’s alter ego is a fashion model, and Longoria is, well, on a lot of magazine covers.) Then, Edward Norton hinted that Marvel may not want him back as the Hulk for either a sequel or for The Avengers.

Marvel, let’s not get off track here. Fans are excited for an Avengers movie that builds off the Nick Fury and Tony Stark cameos in Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk. Now you’re talking about ditching Norton and bringing in Eva Longoria? You’re facing an uphill battle as it is — superhero team movies aren’t exactly surefire. ( Fantastic Four didn’t.) Here’s some advice on how to get The Avengers back on track. 

Make Vision the Focal Point
Team movies are basically ensemble films, and without a strong focal point, they run the risk of turning into a crowded mess. X-Men succeeded by using new recruits Rogue and Wolverine as entry points for the audience. The obvious route for The Avengers
would be use the team’s discovery of Captain America, whom they rescued
from a block of ice back in issue #4, as the story’s focal point. A
smarter route would be to use Vision, the beloved cyborg Avenger, as
the movie’s underdog hero. Vision’s relationship with the Scarlet Witch
could offer poignancy, while his creation by the villain Ultron could make for some
interesting plot twists. 

Figure Out What They’re Avenging
The
X-Men have a clear purpose — they are freaks and outcasts who band
together in black leather to defend a world that fears and
loathes them. The Avengers initially got together to stop the Hulk, and
then stayed together because, well, there were bad guys to fight. But the
Avengers don’t have much of an overall purpose, as evidenced by
their frequent roster changes. Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch’s Ultimates
series solved the team’s inherent uselessness by making them a
government strike force; Nick Fury’s mention of “The Avengers
Initiative” in Iron Man reinforces the possibility of a
government-sponsored superteam concept. Root the Avengers in the real
world — with the government seeking to control them — and you’ve got
enough fodder for multiple movies.

Hero Must Fight Hero
As
creaky as the cliche may be, comic book fans love it when heroes tussle
over a simple misunderstanding. It happened in the first issue of The Avengers,
and it should happen in the film. And it shouldn’t just be everyone
dog-piling on poor Hulk. Cap should butt heads with Iron Man, volatile
marrieds Wasp and Ant-Man should have domestic squabbles, and Hawkeye,
the team’s Wolverine, should pick fights with everyone. The Fantastic
Four got along, and moviegoers snoozed. The very nature of an ensemble
lends itself to drama. Just ask the ladies of The Hills.  

Ignore Eva Longoria’s Calls
I’ve previously discussed
the need for A-list stars to be kept away from superhero roles, and the
same holds true for supporting characters. Longoria is just too much of
a distraction — have we already forgotten Katie Holmes in Batman Begins?
Comic book films have succeeded thus far by stressing actors over
celebrities. But if you do insist on casting a “desperate housewife,”
Marvel, how about Marcia Cross as the Scarlet Witch? That I could live
with.

When not writing, Nick
Nadel is in line at the comic book store alongside the other geeks, er,
fans of speculative fiction. His most prized possession is a 1960s
Batman comic wherein
the Dynamic Duo are trapped inside a fortune cookie factory. He lives
in Brooklyn and updates his aptly named website (nicknadel.com) with comedy writing and videos.

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