Friday, April 24, 2015

The Avengers: Past, Present, Future

In just a week, Avengers: Age of Ultron will hit USA's theaters. Since 2008, we've been on a really wild ride with these characters. At The Fangirl Initiative, we want to celebrate that. Over the course of the next week, we're going to be taking a look at the Avengers through a variety of posts. We're calling it Avengers Week. Every day you can expect a post about earth's mightiest heroes, leading all the way up to the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron on May 1st. 

To start us off, I (Sky) want to talk about all the character development of the Avengers thus far, as well as my predictions and hopes for Avengers: Age of Ultron. (Semi-sarcastic headcanons and feels may ensue.)

So without further ado, welcome to Avengers Week! Fangirls, assemble!

Tony Stark

Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist.

Where we last left them: Standing on what used to be his house in Malibu, throwing his arc reactor away :’(
Where are they now? In a donut, probably.

A little recap: We first meet Tony as a spoiled rich guy in Iron Man. He’s the head of Stark Industries. To demonstrate one of Stark Industries’ missiles, Tony finds himself in a military caravan in Afghanistan. Then things explode, quite literally. They are attacked and Tony is injured by a weapon from Stark Industries. After this, Tony is kidnapped by extremists. While in captivity, Tony meets a man named Yinsen, who saves Tony’s life. That's when Tony engineers the legendary arc reactor to keep the shrapnel out of his heart, and with Yinsen's help, builds his first Iron Man suit.

Yinsen is one of the most crucial players in Tony’s character arc. This is where Tony changes for the better. Yinsen helps him escape, ultimately sacrificing himself to let Tony go free. Yinsen was Tony’s friend, and showed Tony how fragile humanity really is.

After Tony gets back to the States, he deals with Obadiah Stane trying to take over his company. Tony also cleans up Stark Industries’ act, stops making weapons, and starts truly caring about the people in his life (i.e.: his assistant, Pepper Potts). After several superheroic escapades and a showdown with Obadiah Stane, Tony Stark finds himself at a press conference where he’s questioned about his secret identity. Because secret identities are for wimps apparently, Iron Man--I mean, Tony--announces this:

Which brings us to Iron Man 2. While battling Whiplash, we see Tony more vulnerable than before. The palladium in his arc reactor is poisoning him. He also has to deal with ghosts of his past haunting them in the form of his father. At the end, Tony comes to a sort of peace with himself and his past.

In The Avengers, Tony finds himself in both the role of encourager and adversary. He encourages Bruce to embrace The Hulk and use “the other guy” for good. But he also fights with Steve Rogers about whether he’d lay down his life for a good cause.

In the end, we see that is true. It’s one of the biggest completions of Tony Stark’s character arc, as we see him go from selfish jerk to sacrificial hero.

In Iron Man 3, Tony is stripped of everything: his house, his gadgets, his girlfriend. He’s left as just a man. No more iron. In the end scene, this becomes permanent, as he finally has surgery to take the shrapnel out of his chest. The shrapnel was an excuse for him to stay complacent, and now he’s moved beyond it. It’s an incredible step forward for Tony, and it’s the end of an era. Bittersweet.

Tony Stark's character arc goes something like this.

In Iron Man, Tony goes from pompous jerk to hero. But he also gets a new lease on life and goes through lots of ups and downs in Iron Man and Iron Man 2. In Iron Man 3, Tony is left with nothing. But he's still Iron Man, and he's still a hero.

In the time between Iron Man 3 and Avengers: Age of Ultron, I’d imagine that Tony has been trying to clean up his life, and his act. He’s probably taking care of his even-hotter-than-before girlfriend Pepper and trying to rebuild his life after the end of Iron Man 3. Oh, and… no more shrapnel.

Predictions and hopes for Avengers: Age of UltronI’d imagine that the tension between Tony and Steve will build in anticipation for the events of Civil War in Captain America 3. What I’d hope is to see a more heroic Tony, who hasn’t lost his snarky edge and is still a bit rough around the edges, but is learning to become a better person. I’m not sure what the future of Iron Man is due to the lack of Tony’s arc reactor. I’m 99% sure we’ll still get a suit, but it will probably work in a different way. We’ll have to see how I feel about that.

Bruce Banner

That’s my secret. I’m always angry.

Where we last left them: Driving off with Tony Stark in a sports car.
Where are they now? Sciencing it up with his bro, as evidenced by the end credits scene in Iron Man 3.

A little recap: Bruce Banner started off as an actor named Edward Norton, all the way back at the beginning of the Avengers franchise in 2008. In The Incredible Hulk, we see the origins of Bruce’s gamma sickness, his struggle with his powers, and his reluctance to become a hero. The power of the Hulk terrifies Bruce. He only embraces it when he knows it’s absolutely necessary, which leads to a really epic scene where he jumps from a helicopter and turns into the Hulk just before hitting the ground.

The Incredible Hulk (2008) ends with Bruce running away. In The Avengers, we see where Bruce went: India. He’s been doing meditation, helping people, and also got a whole new face. (Hey, Mark Ruffalo!)

I really love Bruce because of his mild demeanor and sensitive spirit. He's one of the most underrated Marvel characters.

Bruce’s arc in The Avengers is sort of a continuation of his origin movie: he knows about his powers, but he’s scared to embrace them. He hates the Other Guy, and even tried to commit suicide because of it. Tony Stark is the catalyst that leads him to finally embrace the Other Guy and use his powers for good. And that’s how Bruce Banner became an Avenger… and a hero.

In the time between The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron, I feel that Bruce may have moved in with Tony. At the very least, they spend a lot of time together, as evidenced by the Iron Man 3 credit scene. They’ve been science-ing it up ever since.

Predictions and hopes for Avengers: Age of Ultron: Apparently, we’ll be getting a Natasha/Bruce romance, so we’ll see how that goes down. I’m also extremely afraid for Bruce’s health and sanity after some of the shots in the trailers. I presume that like all the other Avengers, Bruce will be pushed to his breaking point. And I’m not ready for it.

Natasha Romanoff

I’ve got red in my ledger. I’d like to wipe it out.

Where we last left them: In a courtroom after all her crimes were released to the public.
Where are they now? Lobbying hard for her own standalone movie.

A little recap: We first see Black Widow in Iron Man 2, where she’s a red-haired, kick-butt, whirling mass of chaos and destruction. Unfortunately, her character development doesn’t go very far until The Avengers, which is where we see her start to really shine. We see that Natasha has secrets--red in her ledger. We also see that she’s incredibly strong: she manipulates Loki. She shuts down the portal. She uses her mind to think fast. Natasha is just cool, period. (I will probably never stop talking about this.)

One awesome moment is where she manipulates Loki by telling him a sob story. Then, when she gets the information she needs, she drops the mask. Was there any truth behind her emotions? We may never know.

Some of my favorite moments for Natasha come from Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier. We see her kind of road-tripping with Steve. We see her wear normal clothes. We see her relax a bit. And at the very end, she releases all her secrets--her criminal history, and who knows what else--to the public.

What will happen? Time will tell.

In the time between Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier and Avengers: Age of Ultron, I feel that Natasha may have gone off the radar a bit. Maybe she runs a few field missions, maybe she’s in Nick Fury’s secret circle. But whatever she’s doing, I think she’s lying low. At least until Age of Ultron. Then it’s all over.

Predictions and hopes for Avengers: Age of Ultron: I predict a Bruce/Natasha romance. I also predict a love triangle with Hawkeye. I predict lots of kick-butt moments. And I hope we will finally find out what happened in Budapest.

Clint Barton

You know what it's like to be unmade?

Where we last left them: In a cool pair of shades.

Where are they now? Sulking in his nest over how nonexistent his development has been thus far.

Hawkeye made his first appearance in a small, blink-and-you-missed it cameo in Thor as the archer who almost shoots our favorite Norse god. The next time we see him, in The Avengers, Clint is collateral damage in Loki’s war against humanity, because Loki brainwashes him faster than you can say “Marvel movies rock.” This kind of relegates Clint to a background role for most of the movie. Don’t know much about Hawkeye? Yeah, I don’t blame you.

The mistreatment of Clint in the movies makes me a little bit angry. His arc is basically, “Oh, I killed people, I’m so upset, Natasha, please help me past this.” Which, I have to admit, is really, really cute and actually pretty moving. But compared to Tony’s 3 movies and Cap’s 2 movies and Thor’s 2 movies… it isn’t that great.

Clint is such a resource of hilarity and wit. I hope they start to utilize that.

However, we do get to see some things: Clint is a loner, used to single missions to take down a target. After he's been brainwashed, we see him get accustomed to fighting with team members. It's actually pretty cool to see.

In the time between The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron, I’d imagine Clint went back to his nest to sulk a bit (about how he’d like his own movie, dang it). Maybe he talked to Natasha, or went and took down Loki. I have no idea. I’d imagine he kept it pretty low-key, though. Maybe some Hell’s Kitchen reruns?

Predictions/hopes for Avengers: Age of Ultron: Please. Give Clint development. Please.

Thor Odinson


Where we last left them: Thinking that Loki died, but haha, no, he didn’t. LOOK BEHIND YOU, THOR.
Where are they now? Who knows? In one of the nine realms. He’s around here somewhere.

Thor’s kind of a cool guy. He can often get overshadowed by his trickster adoptive brother Loki, but Thor rarely gets the fanfare he deserves.

We first see him in his titular movie, Thor, directed by Kenneth Branagh. Thor is the son of Odin, who is pretty impulsive, prideful, and not-very-conscientious. Due to this, Odin banishes him from the kingdom and sends him down to earth. Lots of fish-out-of-water-based comedy ensues.

While on earth, Thor meets the love of his life, Jane Foster. He also lays down his life to save the inhabitants of a small New Mexico town. This is where the previously-arrogant Thor really becomes a hero: when he is willing to sacrifice himself. And thus, surprise surprise, Thor is able to pick up his hammer. Because he finally became worthy.

Another moment where Thor proves himself worthy is when he sacrifices his needs to destroy the rainbow bridge, thus never being able to see Jane again.

In The Avengers, Thor’s development mostly revolves around his brother. Thor apologizes and asks Loki to calm down and come home, but Loki does not. Loki tries to take over the world; Thor tries to stop him. It’s pretty heartbreaking when you think about it from both points of view: Thor just wants his brother back, but Loki is still incredibly hurt over what happened to him. In the end, Thor ends up taking his brother back to Asgard, where he will be punished accurately for his crimes.

In Thor 2: The Dark World, Loki is imprisoned, but Thor has to free him in order to defeat the dark elf Malekith and get vengeance for their mother. There’s a lot of great brotherly bonding moments and humor. We also see Thor take on a more noble role, defending the Nine realms and preparing to take over for his father. While Thor has turned down the role of being king, there's no doubt that he could be.

In the time between Thor 2 and Avengers: Age of Ultron, I’d imagine that Thor has been cultivating his relationship with Jane, continuing to defend the Nine Realms, and dodging assassination attempts from Loki. He’s also probably talking to his dad, Odin… aka Loki… whom he doesn’t realize is actually Loki. That could get awkward.

Predictions and hopes for Avengers: Age of Ultron: I’d love to see a bit more of Thor in this film. I want to see his relationships deepen with the other Avengers. I want more hilarious moments of him trying to figure out humans, but I also want to see him become a bit more human. And is it too much to ask for a Darcy cameo?

Steve Rogers

When do we start?

Where we last left them: With a happy ending. Just kidding, it can never be happy for Steve.
Where are they now? Hanging with Sam Wilson, still looking for Bucky. Waiting for Cap 3. (Just like me.)

A little recap: Steve Rogers starts out as a little tiny man in Manhattan. He wants to fight in the war, but he’s constantly being told he’s too small. But he doesn’t give up.

This gets him the notice of one Dr. Erskine, who asks Steve to volunteer for his super-soldier serum thingy. Steve agrees. What results is one of the greatest superhumans you’ll ever see. He runs fast. He throws stuff. And he’s awesome.

In Captain America: The First Avenger, Steve’s arc is pretty simple. He has to deal with his new abilities, as well as bringing down the evil Red Skull. One of the defining moments for Steve in this movie is when he stops doing the Captain America shows. He didn’t want to be a performer anymore. He knew he was destined for more. We also see how much Cap loves his best friend Bucky Barnes, and how brokenhearted he is when Bucky dies. It’s painful.

We always knew Steve was a good man, and this is proved once and for all by Steve driving a plane into the snow to save, um… someone? I don’t know why, but it happens. He gets frozen in a snowdrift and is found almost 70 years later. He wakes up in a fake room meant to look like WWII, and theeen finds himself in present day Manhattan.

We just know angst will ensue.

And angst does ensue. In The Avengers, Steve has barely had time to adjust to normal life before he is thrown right into a battle with… gulp … aliens?!? For this movie, I think Steve’s greatest change is learning to work well with others. He’s a solitary soldier, used to leading and making the tough calls. In The Avengers, he learns to work together as a team.

And then comes the angstiest of all. The best movie of all time… I mean, Captain America 2. This is where we see Steve really shine. His love for Bucky moves him to the ends of the earth. He also forms a squad of his own (Black Widow, Falcon), and learns to let other people help him when he’s broken (Black Widow, Hawkeye). In this movie, Cap becomes 10x more badass, too, as we see him singlehandedly face the threat that is Hydra.

And through it all, there’s only one thing that drives him forward: his love for his pal, James Buchanan Barnes.

Cap's character arc looks kind of like this...

In the time between Captain America 2 and Avengers: Age of Ultron: I’d imagine that Steve has been scouring the ends of the earth for Bucky. He’s probably visiting Peggy, which really hurts my feels. And maybe he’s struck up a relationship with the lady down the hall, aka Agent 13.

Predictions and hopes for Avengers: Age of Ultron: I hope that we get some Bucky. I don’t care how, just give it to me. I also would like a Sam Wilson cameo, because I love Sam Wilson. And I’d like to see Steve Rogers’s flaws come to light, somehow so that we see that he’s a good man, but not a perfect one.

Over the course of seven years, we've gotten to see the Avengers at their highest and their lowest points. And the adventure isn't over yet. On May 1st, we get to see even more. I can't wait.

Which character do you think has grown the most in The Avengers franchise? What are your hopes, dreams, and predictions for Avengers: Age of Ultron?

1 comment:

  1. Jeez, has it really been seven years? That's insane...

    Moving on, though. Just wanted to say that I'm way late to the commenting game for Avengers Week due to finals, but I enjoyed this post immensely. Not only did I choke on my water several times while reading this (note: laughing while drinking isn't exactly the poster child for multitasking), it was great to look back at the MCU journey so far. It's been quite a ride, hasn't it?