Potential spoilers ahead. Consider yourself warned.
Yes, I admit it: I was one of those nerds who lost it during that post-credits scene in The Avengers when Thanos is revealed as the true “big bad” behind the whole “alien attack on Earth” thing. I’ve always been a fan of Marvel’s more cosmically minded characters and titles — the Silver Surfer is my favorite comic book character, period — and so the thought of future Marvel movies delving into that aspect of Marvel’s mythology is an exciting one. Does this mean we’ll see the Infinity Gauntlet appear at some point, or the Beyonders (who are the creators of the Cosmic Cubes, which is what the Tesseract really is)? What of Adam Warlock? Will cosmic entities like the Celestials, Eternity, the In-Betweener, the Elders of the Universe, and the Living Tribunal make appearances? The mind reels.
Of course, this begs the question of whether or not audiences will swallow characters like those. One could argue, of course, that if general, non-nerd audiences are already willing to see a movie featuring Norse gods as superheroes and supervillains, then it shouldn’t be that much of a leap to accept someone like the death-obsessed son of Mentor. All that being said, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the movie version of Thanos deviates significantly from the comic version. Here’s hoping, however, that future Marvel movies will do a better job of explaining Thanos (and anything else cosmic) than X-Men: The Last Stand did of explaining the Phoenix. (There, the Phoenix was explained as Jean Grey’s repressed alternate personality, rather than a cosmic entity.)
Some other random thoughts about The Avengers:
- It is a very fun movie. Nothing revelatory, but still, a great movie to see with the guys (or the girls) at a late night screening. And as someone put it so well in the Arts & Faith forum: “I haven’t been in a movie theater where the cheering of the theater audience reminded me so much of the cheering for the home team at a baseball game. Marvel has created a collection of heroes that are genuinely loved — and loved by children. Whedon respects this, plays with it, and by the time he’s done, each hero is still worthy of the admiration of children. The grand entrances and shining moments are old-fashioned, yes, but they’re also justified.”
- I’ve never been much of a Hulk fan, but his were some of the movie’s best and funniest moments. The “puny God” scene where he puts Loki in his place and the little coda to his brawl with Thor were nice bits of slapstick. Additionally, Mark Ruffalo is simply great as Bruce Banner.
- Robert Downey, Jr. can toss out snark as Tony Stark like nobody else, and I love him for it. The “Legolas” line had the entire audience in stitches.
- Speaking of Stark, his interactions with Dr. Banner were solid. It’s nice to see him interact (finally, at least in his mind) with someone who is his intellectual equal.
- The “only one God” line from Captain America was awesome.
- I wasn’t sure I'd like Hawkeye — the whole master archer schtick and all — but I dug Jeremy Renner's portrayal of him as this no-nonsense, ultra-efficient and capable soldier. I’m now even more excited to see him in the upcoming Bourne film. I also liked the hints we get that something beyond mere camaraderie exists between him and Black Widow.
- I was sad to see Agent Coulson go, but it wouldn’t be a Joss Whedon title unless someone awesome and beloved got killed. However, I’m not sure that this is the last we’ll see of the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. (Clark Gregg is reportedly in discussions to reprise the role for Iron Man 3, though admittedly, it could be for flashback scenes.)
- Joss Whedon certainly deserves a lot of credit for the movie. He had to have been under a tremendous amount of pressure — this is basically what the last few Marvel movies have all been leading up to, for several years now — and I’d say he delivered in a big way. Once again, he shows off his uncanny knack for working with large ensemble casts and ensuring that everyone gets at least one or two great lines/scenes. (Another example of this would be the interrogation scenes featuring Black Widow, which turn out to be delightfully more complicated than they seem at first.)
Between The Avengers and the upcoming Dark Knight Rises, I think it’s safe to say that comic book nerds and fans are going to be very happy this summer.