let’s see these avengers stories come to the mcu

I have some strong opinions on this subject.

With tickets finally going on sale for Black Widow, coming out July 9th, the wait is almost over and the Marvel Cinematic Universe is about to return to the big screen for the first time in two years. That extended period of time, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, is the longest fans have had to wait since the two years between Iron Man and Iron Man 2 (not counting The Incredible Hulk, which I’m not).

Of course the MCU has not been completely silent, with Disney+ series like “WandaVision”, “Falcon and the Winter Soldier” and most recently “Loki” not only trying to quench fan thirst for more stories in this universe but also doing varying amounts of heavy lifting to set up the direction of the MCU’s future.

And that future is about to arrive with a crashing wave, again thanks to consolidated release schedules in part necessitated by pandemic-related delays. Three more movies — Shang-Chi, Eternals and Spider-Man: No Way Home — will all come out before the end of 2021, with “What If…”, “Ms. Marvel” and “Hawkeye” series also coming to Disney+ in the next six months.

While it seems The Avengers, at least as the team has been traditionally defined, will be less of a priority for the MCU following the conclusion of the last set of films, this coming influx of series and movies has me thinking about a few of my favorite Avengers comics stories that haven’t yet been adapted but really need to be.

Secret War

Not only is this a great spy caper – something that would be welcome in the MCU instead of a constant barrage of bigger, more violent CGI battle sequences – but it uses a solid mix of characters that would bring together a number of elements of the universe. If the movie used the same team as Brian Michael Bendis’ 2004 mini-series, it would provide a great platform through which to bring together some of the disparate elements of Marvel’s multimedia approach prior to the launch of Disney+.

Specifically, the core team from the series could include:

From the Official MCU: Captain America, Black Widow and Spider-Man

Even though Cap is Steve Rogers in the comic, there’s no reason it couldn’t be Sam Wilson. Sony would, of course, have to be open to lending on Spidey one more time. And Widow’s involvement would depend on the setting of the story, unless there’s some big twist coming in her upcoming solo movie.

Also, the comics provided the transition from Nick Fury to Maria Hill as the head of SHIELD, so let’s make that happen.

From the Netflix and ABC Shows: Luke Cage, Daredevil and Quake

We’re still, if I haven’t lost count, in the period where Marvel Studios can’t do anything new with these characters. When that window closes (assuming it hasn’t already) it would be great to bring them back in the same incarnations we saw in the various Marvel Netflix series. The connections between those shows and the MCU was always tenuous to barely existent, but let’s just cut out the dithering and go all-in here.

Similarly, bringing Daisy Johnson/Quake into the fold after being introduced on “Agents of SHIELD” would make a lot of fans happy.

From Fox Properties

What Marvel Studios’ plans for the X-Men after the Disney/Fox merger haven’t been revealed yet, but Wolverine was part of the team in the comic series, so this story would be a good platform for introducing full-on mutants with a fan-favorite character.

“Death and Texas / The Day Death Died”

Let’s be honest and admit that if the MCU has failed in any significant way, it’s in not recognizing that the West Coast Avengers were *actually* the best comics Avengers team. To date, though, that team hasn’t been part of the world-building of the franchise, and we’re the poorer for it.

That being said, the crossover between the west and east coasters in West Coast Avengers Annual #2 and Avengers Annual #16 would make an amazing movie.

The story starts with the two teams playing a softball game, as they began doing in the previous years’ crossover. This time the game is interrupted by The Grandmaster, who forces two Avengers – one from each team – to fight each other. Then they must face off against deceased Avengers, adding even more emotion to the conflict.

Of course to really pull it off, the concept of the West Coast Avengers needs to be introduced, but that should happen anyway. The Grandmaster, as played by Jeff Goldblum, could appear as if he had survived the outcome of Thor: Ragnorak, and it would finally pay off the teasing of “Death herself” from the mid-credits sequence of 2012’s The Avengers.

Avengers Under Siege

Here’s an opportunity to bring some of the villains to the forefront. The story, originally published in 1986, has the Masters of Evil taking over Avengers Mansion, with the heroes dealing with the emotional toil of having their home invaded. It’s not only a very good hero story but also one that explores the idea that the heroes don’t win every time, albeit with lower stakes than something like Endgame.

It’s alright if you want to ignore Dr. Druid, but the rest of the team’s lineup at the time would allow for bringing Monica Rambeau’s Captain Marvel — introduced in the “WandaVision” series — into the fold and having Black Knight make an appearance, adding a fun mystical element to the universe.

(bonus: Both “Under Siege” and the Avengers/WCA crossover mentioned above are included in the Avengers: Under Siege Epic Collection trade, so definitely pick that up.)

Any other suggestions?

The Privelige Of The MCU’s Heroes

Marvel’s heroes are part of the problem.

There’s been a lot of good storytelling in the Marvel Cinematic Universe over the last 12 years. Black Panther, Captain America: The First Avenger, Thor: Ragnarok and others particular stand out from among the 20 movies as particularly enjoyable and well-told stories offering something new and creative in the superhero genre.

There’s also a problem with many of them that I never quite noticed until recently rewatching Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Now Winter Soldier is a movie I’ve watched and greatly enjoyed a few times before. It’s usually ranked among my favorites of the MCU for how it uses Marvel characters to tell an updated version of a late-70s paranoid political thriller. Chris Evans fully comes into the role of Cap in the film, Scarlett Johansson gives my favorite of her performances as Black Widow and you can never go wrong with Robert Redford gliding through every scene.

This last time through it, something stuck out at me, though. It’s a moment right at the end of the film, with Natasha Romanov testifying before Congress about how Hydra was able to infiltrate SHIELD for decades, coming within seconds of killing millions of citizens because it deemed them a potential future threat. Why, one individual asks, shouldn’t she and others who aided – albeit unwittingly – this massive conspiracy be put behind bars?

In response she says they won’t put her in jail because, despite the role they played previously, they’re the ones best qualified to fix the very problems they contributed to.

You’ll recognize this logic from every appointment of an oil industry executive to the EPA because “they have experience with this subject matter.” Or the committees making recommendations on reform in the financial sector that are staffed solely be executives from the biggest firms in that industry.

It’s not an uncommon sentiment in the MCU, either. In the first two Iron Man movies, Tony Stark’s entire philosophy is that despite the fact that his irresponsible business practices having put terrible weapons in the hands of terrible people, he should be trusted to clean up that mess. Not only that, but he embodies the conservative notion that the duties traditionally entrusted to government should instead be handed over to the wealthy elite. He resists any government oversight or accountability of Iron Man, asking instead he simply be trusted.

At the end of The Avengers, Nick Fury is asked if he knows where the various heroes are and how he’s planning on reassembling them if the world faces another day like no other. Not really, he says, simply hoping and believing they’ll be there when needed. That sentiment is picked up by Secretary Ross in Civil War, when he asks if anyone knows where Thor or Hulk are, rightfully pointing out he’d be in a heap of trouble if he lost a couple nuclear weapons.

While there are plenty of issues that can be taken with the story in Civil War, Ross’s point is not necessarily one of them. But in this case, Tony Stark’s conversion from “I privatized world peace” to “We need to be put in check” comes off less as realizing he and those like him are part of the problem than from, it seems, him wanting to pass the buck of accountability on to someone else.

That mindset is understandable from characters like Rhodes and Romanoff, who have both operated extensively within military structures and who feel comfortable there. Stark, though, has seen his high-flying adventuring go badly and would like to have someone else deal with it, thank you very much.

(Side note: Captain America might be expected to take a similar approach as Rhodes given his military background. His intransigence on the issue always seemed somewhat arbitrary, especially since it’s justified solely by saying they can be trusted to make the best decisions on their own. More than any other MCU character, Cap has had his belief in “the system” shaken, first finding out SHIELD was using Hydra weapons in The Avengers and then finding out SHIELD *is* Hydra in The Winter Soldier. If Civil War had grounded his stance in this experience it would be a lot more defensible.)

It’s equally understandable why Barton, Wilson and others would disagree, given they don’t come from such privileged backgrounds even if many of them were also military in some fashion. The opposing side is made up of those who have been in the muck a lot longer and worked to lift themselves out. Barton doesn’t have a super suit, he’s just *really* good at what he does. Wilson is like Rhodes in many ways, but doesn’t have the benefits of a long friendship with a playboy billionaire philanthropist aiding his way. Scott Lang, of course, is a criminal who operates outside the system. Wanda is an orphan who lost her brother.

When Romaoff says she and the other heroes are the ones most qualified to clean up the mess created by the fall of Hydra, she’s hinting at what’s to come in Civil War. She’s also mimicking the testimony of every executive in the wake of some crisis. Consider how little changed in the 10 year following the 2008 financial crisis, with many of those who were in charge then still in charge a decade later. This quote from a story on what some of those leaders said in a Congressional inquiry is indicative of that “those who created the problem should be trusted to clean it up” philosophy and sounds a lot like Romanoff’s rebuke:

The witnesses said they supported tighter oversight, but warned against going too far.

Right. Because you wouldn’t want to “go too far” in the wake of the complete collapse of the American housing market, one caused by banks and not homeowners. And you wouldn’t want to go too far in the wake of revelations that an international terrorist organization had compromised a global security force.

Those in power are loath to relinquish that power, especially when the opportunity comes along to be free from any negative repercussions that might happen while exercising that power. It’s unfortunate to see that kind of privilege on display in the MCU.