Thursday, June 14, 2012

5 "Coulda Been" Avengers Movie Villains to Love

Doug:  So about this Thanos fellow.  It sounds to me like everyone is pretty excited about his potential storyline unfolding in Avengers 2, what with the Infinity Gauntlet already having been shown in Odin's trophy room in Thor.  But what of some other super-baddies Joss Wheedon could have chosen?  There were certainly other possibilities.  Let's take a look at five marquis names that I don't think we'd have hated:

Kang the Conqueror.  Seems like I've moved from a purple-faced guy to a blue-faced guy.  For my money, Kang's the Avengers #1 enemy.  Of course, a fellow we'll get to in just a bit is 1A, but let's stick with Kang for right now.  With CGI, the possibilities for stories across time and space are endless.  And wouldn't we all get a kick out of seeing Thor on the big screen with the Two-Gun Kid??  Heck yeah!  I also thought some of the scenes out of the "Celestial Madonna", particularly the labyrinth under the castle of Immortus would play well onscreen.  You know, it's funny -- my older son is a Marvel fan, primarily because of the films as well as action figures.  He reads the occasional tpb, but doesn't by any means have a comic collection.  So when he saw the movie he was under the impression that the big reveal at the end of the film was Kang.  I decided to accept the spoiler and let him tell me -- I was pretty juiced about it, but when we went to see it together and I told him that it was Thanos we were still excited.  But I am a bit surprised that they didn't choose Kang.

Ultron.  Here he is -- 1A.  This adamantium maniac might have been harder to pull off, simply because there would have to be quite a bit of backstory squeezed into a 2 1/2 hour film.  But the possibilities of having the Pyms and of course the Vision join up are goose-bumping.  And you know what?  With a pic like the Avengers, where the cast is already pretty large, I'm not sure subsequent installments in the franchise will suffer from the busy-ness that the latter two Schumacher Batman films and Spider-Man 3 fell into.  Really, in the Avengers situation, the more the merrier!  I'd make one request for this character, however -- don't fall into the recent traps of making an army of Ultrons.  We've seen this overused recently in the comics as well as the DisneyXD cartoon.  He is big and bad enough on his own.  "Bride of Ultron", anyone?  Yeah, he had his nasty on in that story.

Dr. Doom.  What a golden opportunity for a reboot of the Fantastic Four franchise!  I'd re-do all five of the main characters from that movie.  It's not that I totally hated those two pictures, but let's face it -- they are quickly falling down the care-o-meter for superhero flicks.  The good Doctor just oozes silver screen appeal.  Think JR Ewing meets Amon Goeth meets Darth Vader.  Man...  Again, the castle motif comes to mind, as does the potential for time travel.  And you can't beat the visual of a Thing/Hulk slugfest somewhere along the line!

Baron Zemo.  This one might be a stretch, given the narrow Red Skull-focus of the Cap film.  But, we don't know what they have in store for Captain America 2 (do we?).  The possibilities of also introducing a Masters of Evil makes Zemo an attractive choice.  Again, you might walk the line of too many characters, but that classic line-up with the Black Knight, Radioactive Man, and the Enchantress and Executioner (see?  Thor tie-in!) would be a blast. 

Mandarin.  We know he's the do-badder in Iron Man 3, so why not extend him over into the greater Avengers?  Seriously -- was there a better Bronze Age reprint comic than Giant-Size Avengers #5?  Yeah, I know it was an encore of Avengers King-Size Special #1, but I didn't grasp that at the time.  So many heroes, and so many bad guys!  Who among you wouldn't think it was cool to see the Swordsman and Hawkeye square off?  Power Man vs. Cap?  I picture the Mandarin like some dark crime lord, behind the scenes but pulling all of the strings.  He could work out just fine.


humanbelly said...

Hmm-- well, there are three stand-alone movies before the second film. Mandarin's the guy in IM3, you say? I would think Enchantress/Executioner would at least be strongly considered for the 2nd Thor film, certainly straightforward antagonists, w/ a lot of complicated emotional interplay churning under the surface. And I'd totally buy some iteration of Zemo for Cap's next film (perhaps he picks up the loose threads w/ Zola?). So, for the second Avengers film, we could then see Thanos remaining behind the scenes in the role of string-puller. . . and manipulating that group into becoming the cimematic universe's Masters of Evil. Maybe pull in the Abomination, even, from the earlier Hulk film. This would be particularly effective, since they'd all have been introduced elsewhere. And, oy, what a slugfest-! (Awfully crowded, though, I'll grant you-)

Kang-- I kind of feel like he wouldn't work so well in a film. The time-travel conceit just leaves itself wide-open to unsympathetic criticism. . . and it's always a burden to stay on top of what's going on with any time-hoppin' plot on-screen (IMO) (And I happen to love time-hoppin' films!)

Doc Doom is, yeesh, still the property of the FF's studio. But yeah-- that franchise seems awfully fallow. Still--- he's so deeply associated w/ the FF. . .

Ulton, however, still gets my vote above everyone, including the MoE. He's the most interesting psychologically; he should likely bring a lot of personal baggage for a newly introduced Hank & Jan, and possibly Tony & Nick; and he would represent a "we did this to ourselves" threat, as opposed to some sort of external invasion of aliens or asgardians or something.
And could still be a product of Thanos' string-pulling.

Boy, lots of possibilities out there. Let's hope the right people are still on-board for these films in the long-haul, eh?


Edo Bosnar said...

I was also surprised when I heard Thanos would be the next villain - my first thought was, 'really, not Kang?'
However, with Thanos, I'm holding out hope (forlorn perhaps) that Captain Marvel will be introduced - mind you, as Carol Danvers, not Mar Vell.
I'm with you on Ultron, but for me, it would have then been mandatory for the Pyms to be introduced in the first film, which, regrettably, did not happen.
Another villain not mentioned here, but who would be really cool and now feasible with CGI, is Absorbing Man. I'd like to see him in either a Thor or Avengers movie (in fact, he was make a great member of the Masters of Evil, along with Abomination as suggested by humanbelly).

david_b said...

My only suggestions here are as follows..:

1) Ultron for Avengers 3, having seen some subtle hints in Avengers 2, with Pyms introduced. A lingering issue hinted at, then manifests in 3, perhaps even more of a cliff-hanger this time (ala 'Empire Strikes Back')

2) No MoE for me.. Sorry, you see how bad multiple villains ruin movies (later Spidermans, 90s Batman franchise, well ok, along with terrible writing..). More than one villain typically ruins the pace and dramatic-rhythm of a movie. One true villain, multiple minions is fine.

That said, I'd go with Doom. Funny as it is, I've seen Kang more suited for FF and Doom more for Avengers, but I know it didn't go that way in the comics.

Thanos will be fine, but as I commented a few weeks ago, the 2nd film needs to be a less-novel, less-grand scale, more emotional/introspective sequel, or else you'll end up with another slug-fest, which'll suffer too many comparisons to the first, allowing critics to lament 'oh, another film just like the first, where's the originality, Josh..?' type jabs. It won't move the characters forward.

humanbelly said...

@ DavidB: Yeah, in spite of it being my own suggestion, my gut feeling is that you're right about the well-precedented pitfalls of a "more villains equals bigger, better movie" sequel-- although I do tend to think that that particular phenomenon can be layed almost entirely at the feet of the "corporate Hollywood" mindset, as opposed to being the fault of the film-makers themselves.

My other thought (after having watched the last 3 episodes of Buffy Season 5 with my daughter last night) is that if anyone could pull off a compelling film with that many major supporting characters, it would be Joss Whedon. And there would still be the advantage of not having to work multiple origins into the film- kind of unprecedented territory. BUT-- I've also said elsewhere (somewhere) your very same thought that the second film very much wants to hinge on some sort of internal/personal conflict, as opposed to another big broohaha. And again, I feel like Whedon's the man. . . or else don't even step up to the plate. . .


david_b said...

HB, TOTALLY agreed on the 'corporate Hollywood' mindset, most likely for the merchandising bucks than the thought of shelling out yet more million-dollar deals for another type-A movie star for a 2nd/3rd villain..

IMHO, a film, like any other type of classic story-telling, "has to breath". You have both valleys and peaks. Having dramatic pacing from dealing with one villain interrupted by some other villain suddenly zooming in for the kill, makes movies seem too much like a video game.

Chuck Wells said...

I would bet real money that Ultron will be the big bad in one of the sequels. Kang is only a maybe, but the rest won't make the cut.

J.A. Morris said...

If Ultron shows up, I imagine Thanos will be the one who creates him.

But I'm in agreement about the "Ultron Army", it's not necessary. It looks too much like the Cybermen from Doctor Who.

Inkstained Wretch said...

I voted for Baron Zemo precisely because I want to see the Avengers square off against the Masters of Evil. That would be awesomeness squared.

david-b is right that multiple villains usually muck up a film by making the storyline too convoluted. BUT that is typically because each villain has their own storyline. It wouldn't be the case if they were just a team of super-powered thugs, which is what the Masters of Evil really are. The real storyline need only involve Zemo. And that could work easily, especially if they tie him in with Captain America.

Having said that they'd need to re-design that costume. Zemo's fur-lined outfits will look ridiculous on screen.

As for the others, well ...

Kang: Great villain, bur after Loki in the first film and Thanos in the second another all-powerful conqueror from another time/dimension would be too much, methinks.

Ultron: Could be good, but I think the evil robot stuff has already been done to death with the Terminator films.

Dr. Doom: Another good possibility but he really belongs to the Fantastic Four.

The Mandarin: I'm very wary of how Hollywood would do him. My guess is they'd re-invent evil Asian warlord with so much political correctness that it would sink the whole film.

david_b said...

Great points, Inkstained, totally agree on your villain rationales.

I never thought too much on Zemo, but in the right environment, coupled with dark lighting and a low-pitched ominous voice, you may really have something as another villain from one of the hero's past.

Anonymous said...

Hmm ... how about the Red Skull? Yes, yes, I know he was already done in Cap's film, but didn't he possess the Tessera- er,um, I mean the Cosmic Cube? :)

Seriously, though, yeah I'm one of those who thought that although it was cool to see Thanos revealed as the next villain, I also thought the next logical villain would have been Kang.

I don't think they'll do Ultron. For a robot to be done on screen (without looking cheesy) they'll have to have a really good actor voice him or else use an actor driven CGI character (sort of like what Mark Ruffalo did with the Hulk).

As for the Mandarin, you KNOW he's only gonna be in Iron Man 3!


- Mike from Trinidad & Tobago.

Anonymous said...

Sure hope no Kang...never liked him in comics...time travel stories tend to be convoluted and unrewarding when the ending is just the restoration of the status quo...I'd love to see Baron Zemo & Masters of Evil but doubt it. Ultron would be need for Pym...why can't Tony Stark build the robot?...but why not the Space Phantom?...dorsn't he come after Loki and drive a wedge into the team?

You heard it here first...Space Phantom!


Anonymous said...

Kang - I agree about the Celestial Madonna storyline but I really don’t want to see Kang turn up because as soon as you have time travel, it descends into nonsense. Seriously, could anyone follow Heroes by the fourth season?

Ultron – yes, but I’d be loathe to have Ultron without the Pyms & Vision part of the story and that would be a movie unto itself, so maybe later if the franchise thrives. Ultron is great because, if you view him as a robot, he’s a metaphor for the alienating antithetic-to-human-values effect of modern mechanisation on all our lives and the nuclear/biotech threat, but also despite being a robot, he has deep seated, psychological mummy & daddy issues. He actually has neuroses, which is pretty cool for someone who is basically a Hoover with delusions of grandeur. Top villain material.

Doc Doom has always had an interesting relationship with the Avengers, esp. During the Attuma/SVTU crossover. You can’t really go wrong with Doc Doom. Also, with what’s going on in Libya, Syria, Afghanistan and places which have recently tasted the ‘joys of freedom’ the whole Latveria thing raises some interesting questions about the nature of freedom itself. It often seems to me that the American concept of freedom is very centred around ‘freedoms to’ rather than ‘freedoms from.’ One thing that I always thought highlighted the complexity of this was that when Doom took over Latveria, the first thing that disappeared was any instance of rape, as it was punishable by instant death, by he also claimed his droit de actually there was one rapist in Latveria, and only one, but he was above the law. Progress? This kind of leaves one in the position of defending the utterly indefensible.

Zemo doesn’t work anymore. The reason Zemo was Cap’s nemesis, perhaps more so even that the Skull was that he killed Bucky, but in the movie, he didn’t,so Zemo is just another nut in a mask. Also, I believe they un-killed Bucky later, didn’t they?

I am so pleased they are using the Mandarin for Iron Man. With China’s hegemony firmly on the way, he is most metaphorical villain in the entire lexicon and he’s been there waiting for 50 years. Also with China hoovering up all the world’s physical resources and sources of energy, his power rings are a great metaphor too. Also Ben Kingsley would be superb casting. I think he could deliver it without going too Ming the Merciless on it.

HB – I agree about the Enchantress & Executioner for Thor 2, but with Loki pulling the strings. Amora’s fatal attraction for Thor is much more interesting than the usual villainy. Wanting to destroy someone out of hate is pretty bland, but doing it out of love is twisted.

David B – I agree about multiple villains. It don’t hunt. The only one where it worked was Batman Returns, but then Michelle wasn’t really a baddie. Also – IM 2 with the multiple sets of armoured villains? It’s just more, not better.

Xrayman – demanding that we follow the actual continuity of the comics from 1963? Superb. Bearing in mind that Cap has already been thawed and joined the team, Avengers 4 is going to be a short one.

I want Natasha & Clint to get it together in the second movie and maybe a sub-plot where their love comprises the situation. Natasha worked for the Chinese at one point I seem to remember. You need to do something clever with them as they are not in the same league as T,IM,H or even Cap really. I thought Whedon did a great job with both characters.

I read an interview with Scarlett where she said that Whedon told her that her job as the only powerful female, was to stop the movie becoming a ‘sausage fest’. Then we see Cobie Smulders dialled up as Maria Hill and the next thing that happens is that Phil Coulson gets killed. Something tells me that those kids on the couch had better find out how their mother was met soon, because Ms. Smulders is going to be busy for the next few years.

Did you know Whedon wanted to make a Wonder Woman movie with her years ago?


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