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Today, Carla and Tom continue to muse through all the news the Big Two have brought us in 2013. See can read the first installment here.
Tom Bondurant: The Marvel Cinematic Universe (Avengers division) is now five and a half years old, and consists currently of eight movies, a handful of shorts, and a half-season of TV.
Carla Hoffman: Holy cats, we work fast!
Tom: However, it’s about to get a lot bigger, adding two movies next year, plus the four Netflix series (and the Defenders movie coming out of those). Clearly this looks like a long-term commitment — but how long can it go?
Carla: Ask me after Ant-Man. That’s going to be the hardest movie to sell to non-comic fans. If that turns out to be a surprise hit enough for Ant-Man (whichever alias he may be) to turn up in an Avengers movie, then I can’t think of a property that wouldn’t work on the silver screen as long as the right creative team is at work.
TB: See, I think Ant-Man just got a lot easier to sell, because now it’s “Paul Rudd joins the Avengers.”
Carla: But he’s not going to be joining the Avengers straight away (she says, making guesses about a movie that’s barely into pre-production). We have to be sold on Ant-Man in the same way people had to be sold on Thor, a character people can kind of guess about and probably come with a lot of preconceived notions about. My feeling is that Rudd might be closer to Robert Downey Jr. in style, where his personality and charm is going to make the movie gold. Maybe this will be a big renaissance for Hank Pym and he’ll reinvent himself again as a hero and beloved Avenger. Maybe he’ll be a bust and everyone will just file this one away with Ghost Rider. Let’s hope for the former.
Tom: While I’m still eager to see the Captain America and Avengers sequels, I feel like I’ve satisfied my need for Thor and Iron Man movies —
Carla: Yeah, I think Iron Man’s solo movie career ended on a nice note with Iron Man 3 but Thor could do another fun flick. If only to get more Warriors Three action!
Tom: — and I’m still not sold on Guardians of the Galaxy.
Carla: Have you read Annihilation?
Tom: Actually, no; I heard good things, but Marvel’s outer-space stuff never really grabbed me. I know about the GoTG primarily through their appearances in ‘70s Defenders and Avengers comics — but that’s a good opportunity to ask where I should start with the new(er) stuff.
Carla: Read it! Immediately! Annihilation, Annihilation: Conquest, the Guardians’ series and War of Kings is a pretty amazing run of Marvel cosmic tales. They are honestly just brilliant and really give a … well, for lack of a better reference point, a Green Lantern-y/Blackest Night-y kind of feel. Big in scope but true to characters and motivations. Each arc completely a story so you don’t feel like you are chasing after an ending, but feeling that grand accomplishment that comes from a big space opera. It’s really good stuff.
Tom: I knew you could help!
Anyway, the MCU isn’t going to be something Marvel just reboots and/or relaunches, like Spider-Man or the Fantastic Four — I have a feeling the Avengers are the boys’ version of the Disney Princesses, in that you don’t need a lot of narrative “content” to sell a lot of merchandise — but I don’t think the company can let it run for too much longer, at least in its current form. The original Avengers survived after Thor and Iron Man left — do you see the Marvel movies doing the same with their own “kooky quartet?”
Carla: That’s the beauty of how the Avengers are set up; Robert Downey Jr. can come in and cameo in another movie down the line and we’d be fine. None of these guys need to think about recasting or (God forbid) rebooting for a long time. If new Avengers are added to the mix every so often, we can get excited to see new characters as well as glimpses and hat waves from old favorites. The Avengers took breaks from the team all the time and went on reserve status, that’s fine by me if any of our founders want to do the same.
Tom: I may never really come to grips with the New 52 reboot, but I am trying to cope nonetheless.
Carla: I admire your courage, sir.
Tom: Part of that is this notion that in starting over, DC has thrown out huge chunks of its shared-universe history, mostly from the Golden and Silver Ages. However, Marvel has gone the other way , with books like Daredevil, Superior Spider-Man and FF (and presumably the Brian Michael Bendis X-Men, which I don’t read) tapping into deep veins of continuity.
Carla: Ehn, Bendis isn’t really rooting through continuity with his All-New Classic cast and FF (Future Foundation style or Original Recipe) isn’t really reaping in the references either. But your point still stands; there are a lot more references to the past in the mighty Marvel manner these days.
Tom: As far as I know, this doesn’t seem to have driven readers away, so when does continuity get oppressive?
Carla: When the creative team doesn’t want to use it. There’s enough that can be done within the bounds of what came before to last a thousand years. It’s when the writer or editor doesn’t want to use it is when the story feels weighted down. Their reluctance shows up on the page and readers feel the slog. Blank slate readers should know enough about Superman to pick up a comic and know what’s going on. If anything, jettisoning continuity means the reader has to be reintroduced to concepts they didn’t know in the first place, so answers aren’t as easy to come by. Then again, DC isn’t starving so maybe it is only long time readers who care about what came before.
Tom: Glad you mentioned us lifers. A while back we talked about comparing Donna Troy to Jean Grey — fan favorites with lots of personal history, who just keep coming back despite themselves — so let me put it to you this way: if Marvel ever did a New 52-style reboot, do you think it could realistically “forget about” Jean, like DC has forgotten about Donna? After all, there’d still be plenty of Wolverine….
Carla: Ah ha ha, no. Gosh no. Not in the slightest! While I had to be refreshed on who exactly Donna Troy is, the blank-slate reader knows Jean Grey is Famke Janssen. She’s a founding X-Man! The only woman! Part of one of the X-Men’s classic tales! While she has been reinvented several different times through death and rebirth, her core never changed. She’s still the redheaded girlfriend of Scott Summers, a telepath and telekinetic that men want and women want to be like. A better comparison for this question would be the winsome Wasp. Could a reboot of the Avengers remove her from the roster with little complaint? See the movie.