Sunday, May 6, 2012

Spoiler questions, now that we've seen 'The Avengers

Posted By on Sun, May 6, 2012 at 7:04 PM

IS LOKI IN AN OPERA, OR WHAT? Tom Hiddleston as Loki
  • Courtesy of Marvel Studios
  • IS LOKI IN AN OPERA, OR WHAT? Tom Hiddleston as Loki
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE AVENGERS INITIATIVE? At separate times, both Nick Fury and Tony Stark mentioned that "The Avengers Initiative" had been scrapped. Did we miss something? Fury famously brought up the Initiative in the last seconds of the first Iron Man, Stark told General Ross "We're putting a team together" in the last seconds of The Incredible Hulk, and Stark's participation in the Avengers Initiative is a topic of minor concern in Iron Man 2. (Fury and the Black Widow conclude that he'll be a consultant.) So wha' happened? Was some kind of pre-Avengers team assembled between the films? And why even bring it up, since it seems to have no bearing on the plot?

WHO ARE NICK FURY'S SHADOWY BOSSES? That's the World Security Council, which oversees SHIELD, but I can't imagine why they look so shadowy and ominous. Theoretically, SHIELD's government bosses should be aboveboard - apart from the whole trying-to-nuke-New-York thing - but these people look like Emperor Palpatine sending sinister holograms to Count Dooku.

WHAT'S UP WITH CAP? If you were curious about Captain America's adjustment to 21st century life after seven decades on ice, you're not the only one. Reportedly, Joss Whedon's first cut of The Avengers was about three hours long, and featured Captain America as a modern-day Rip Van Winkle, including a reunion with his now-elderly girlfriend from Captain America: The First Avenger.

HOW POWERFUL IS LOKI? This is kind of a geeky, trading-card level of query, but Loki's strength seems to vary according to whoever he fights at a given time. Sometimes, especially when he has his magic spear, he seems to be on Thor's level. At times, Captain America seems to be almost a match for him. It's also not that clear what his power set is, beyond strength, making illusory doubles, and being able to snatch arrows out of mid-air.

WHAT WAS LOKI'S SUB-PLAN? Partly the resentful Asgardian wants to steal the Tesseract and trick it out so it can open a wormhole to usher in the alien invaders. But Loki also apparently wants to be taken hostage and brought onboard the SHIELD helicarrier. Apparently he wants to use his overall malign influence to turn the heroes against each other and make Banner Hulk out. If his goal was to turn the Hulk against the heroes, couldn't he just mess with Banner's head via trickery and subterfuge, without being a prisoner?

WHY DOES SHIELD HAVE A HELICARRIER, ANYWAY? The SHIELD helicarrier has been part of Marvel continuity for about 45 years, but even with its nifty invisibility mirrors, it seems insanely expensive and impractical. As shown in the film - and countless comic books - when attacked or sabotaged, it has a tendency to plummet like, well, an aircraft carrier in mid-air.

The question of how Banner keeps the Hulk under wraps is an intriguing subplot to the movie, and it's a great moment when Banner explains, "I'm always angry." But what does that mean? Mark Ruffalo tends to look totally laid-back.

WHO ARE THE ALIENS? Obscure even by comic book standards, they're the Chitauri, and their main claim to fame is that they're related to the Skrulls, an empire of green shapeshifters who've bedeviled The Fantastic Four and the Avengers for five decades. In the film, though, they're so generic, they might as well be the same E.T.s from Skyline, Battle: L.A., Independence Day, etc.

WHO'S THAT AT THE END? The Other, the Chitauri spokesalien, hints that they have a really badass leader, whom the final shot reveals is Thanos. Called "The Mad Titan," Thanos is a hostile, death-obsessed alien tyrant and one of Marvel Comics' strongest "cosmic villains." The Thor movie even dropped a hint that he'd be showing up: Odin's hall of treasures includes The Infinity Gauntlet, an artifact that gives Thanos the power of capital-G God, as opposed to lowercase-g gods like Thor, Loki, et al. He's basically like the Marvel equivalent to DC's archnemesis Darkseid, but if you know who Darkseid is, you probably know who Thanos is already.

Marvel's being coy about that, but two of the Avengers' founding members were the shrinking heroes The Wasp and Ant-Man (who also used growing powers to make himself Giant-Man). In 2010 rumors flew that Eva Longoria would play The Wasp in The Avengers. Edgar Wright has long been rumored to be developing an Ant-Man movie, and like Joss Whedon, he seems like a great choice, with a proven command of action movie archetypes as well as a great sense of humor.

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