Day 8: HAWKEYE #atozchallenge

hawkeye-5One of my favorite exchanges in the Avengers comes when Tony Stark is talking to Captain America and he says, “Following’s not really my style.” Cap responds with, “And you’re all about style?” And Tony says, “Of the people in this room, which one of us is a) wearing a spangly outfit and b) not of use?” Classic material. However, when considering the most useless Avenger, that distinction must go to Hawkeye.

Yes, friends and foes, heroes and villains, there is actually one relatively worthless hero in our supersquad. I loved the Avengers movie (surprise surprise) and I like Jeremy Renner. I even like the Hawkeye character, though I think his costume could use a little work. In the movie, they call him a master assassin but I see him as a bow-wielding, there-are-twelve-enemies? I-only-brought-eleven-arrows jackass with no sleeves.

That’s probably harsh, huh? Okay, I’ll give him his due.

In the comics, Clint Barton AKA Hawkeye is a little better than the bit part they gave him in the movie. He is an assassin of sorts, a superior marksman, and a former carny (for real). He starts out as a villain, crossing both the Black Widow and Iron Man before turning to the straight and narrow (because he got the cowboy shit kicked out of him). He gets sponsored to be an Avenger and becomes an integral part of the team.

Until his bow breaks.

Seriously, my man had his bow break in battle and adopted a whole new identity. Took somebody else’s powers and everything. And then he started going blind. Did I mention that he was deaf? What are you going to do with a deaf and blind archer? That’s like giving Helen Keller a weapon and a costume and calling her a superhero.  In the movie, they give him a little more: he shoots Sam Jackson and manages to take down the ENTIRE Floating Fortress with 2 arrows. He also sets up the best part of the movie: his exploding arrow tosses Loki into the hands of the Hulk.

In the movie, it’s worse. He ain’t deaf, just pointless. He was the first to switch teams when Loki arrived, got his ass handed to him by Scarlett Johannsen, and, rather than follow the fucking plan, got his plane shot out the sky while carrying the half of the Avengers that CAN’T FLY. I’m not a tactician but if a flying, bulletproof dude with a hammer forged in the heart of star is fighting another dude in a cape with a spear, perhaps you should let then do their thing and turn your air support on the invading aliens!

For all his snazzy arrowheads, my man has a limited supply of arrows. He’s forever going to be running out of ammo, sitting on the sidelines like he got hit first in dodgeball, leaving the heavy lifting to everybody else. In the end, there ain’t much use for Hawkeye (though he leads a couple iterations of the Avengers in the comics) and that’s his biggest villain: uselessness.

And if you’re wondering, I did the Hulk in last year’s A to Z Challenge. He was the villain.

Next up, Iron Man! Yeeaaaahhhh!

Day 3 (sorta): Captain America #atozblogchallenge

captain_americaAs much as I love the Avengers, I’ve never really been a Cap fan. He’s too much of a Boy Scout for me, he didn’t really have any powers, and he just had that damn shield. Throwing it never seemed that awesome to me. And he had wings on his head. Little bitty ones. It’s kinda tough to act like you’re all raw and you have little hummingbird wings on your head. I’m surprised no one ever brought it up.

Then I saw the movie. And what Captain America didn’t have in powers, Steve Rogers had in heart. He was a good guy who was willing to do what it took to make the right things happen. He lied to join the Army for the opportunity to die for his country, underwent a chemical transformation, fought the Nazis hand to hand, and got trapped in an iceberg trying to do the right thing. Problem is, he tried to do the right thing at the wrong time.

And time is, for Cap, his greatest villain.

Loki said it best when he called Captain America the “man out of time.” My man was frozen for 40 years in the comics, 70 years in the movies. He wakes up and the world he was fighting to save—and the morals he was trying to uphold—were gone. Think about this, think about those parents or grandparents who saw their entire adulthood defined by World War II and imagine if they weren’t around for what happened next. Steve Rogers, the kid from Brooklyn, gets frozen before WWII is over—he never gets to see the Nazis surrender, never sees the US drop the atomic bomb, never gets to come home to a hero’s parade. Never sees any James Bond movies so he has no idea of how awesome he could have been.

It doesn’t really matter who Captain America fights. In fact, the only villains I know that belong to him are as chronologically misplaced as he is: Baron Zemo, the Red Skull, the Winter Soldier. More often then not, Cap was fighting the very nation he swore to uphold. For a while he rejected being Captain America because he had a problem with what the United States did. Then, during Marvel’s Civil War series, he sided AGAINST the US government (and half the Avengers, including Tony Stark) in having superhumans register themselves and that stance culminated in his assassination. In the movie, he’s distrustful of SHIELD even though he’s the one meta-human that actually works for them.

Captain America is the right man in the wrong time. I don’t know what that says about him or us. Is his ignorance bliss? Is he better off for having missed what we’ve become? Did we stray too far away from what we should be? Is he the ultimate American, a physical embodiment of our nation’s values and purpose? Even with the wings? We’re having a love affair with Tony Stark right now, with his shiny new armor and witty disdain for structures and teams and monogamy. Tony Stark is us now. Steve Rogers is who we were supposed to be. And if that’s who we’re supposed to be, if he’s what it means to be an American, who’s really out of time?

OK, that’s too deep for me. We’re going to lighten it up with my favorite animated bird, Daffy Duck!

Assemble Your Avengers

Guess what?! I’m BAAAAACCKKK! Did you miss me? Don’t be coy; you know you did. I know I said I was gonna take a day off: well, after being laid out by a pretty nasty sinus infection and then moving my house AROUND THE CORNER, here I am 6 days later. Good as new. Well…kinda. Let’s just say I’m 10% better than last week.

And I get to talk about the Avengers.

You knew this was coming, right? For all my discussion about villains, I’ve spent plenty of words and pages on comic books and comic book heroes. Talking about the Avengers was inevitable.

Now if you’ve missed the Avengers’ $200M US opening this past weekend (which is the largest opening in history) or the total $641M the film has taken in over the last 2 weeks or the commercials and trailers that dominate every television program on the planet, the Avengers is the explosive, rip-roaring production featuring 6 Marvel superheroes—Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Black Widow and Hawkeye—battling for the salvation of Earth against, Loki, the Asgardian God of Mischief (and Thor’s brother) and his otherworldly army. I should have written copy, huh?

This post is less a review about the movie (which is SPECTACULAR! Seriously, just drop your shit and go see it!) than it is a review of the idea. Nick Fury, played by the masterfully angry Samuel L. Jackson, says “There was an idea to bring together a group of remarkable people, so when we needed them, they could fight the battles that we never could. It’s called the Avengers Initiative.” This could be said for Marvel’s approach the entire Avengers franchise, starting back in 2008 with Iron Man (and later Iron Man 2), then a new and improved Incredible Hulk, Thor and finally Captain America. 5 films. 6 heroes. More than $2B (that’s B for Billion) in ticket sales worldwide—half of what Disney paid for Marvel.

But, in the beginning, there was an idea.

Call it a gamble, call it hubris, call it balls—Marvel waged 4 years and nearly $800M on an idea of introduce the principal characters in individual movies, cast them masterfully (seriously, who else could have played Tony Stark?) tie them together with 2 minute long snippets after the credits, and culminate with a tremendous production that would be thrilling entertainment for everyone. An idea. An idea no more or less powerful than making us care about a kid from the desert pulled into a galactic war to save a princess. No more or less powerful than having us emotionally invest in an orphaned child with unimaginable power and even greater enemies. No more or less powerful than the most forbidden of love stories—a bloodsucking killer and a virginal high school student.

Ideas shape worlds, change cultures, and apparently destroy the city of Cleveland—they, and the stories they live in, are the basic form of human communication. They strike us, emotionally, psychically, physically; make us perceive our environment, and one another, in new and interesting ways; force us to re-examine ourselves. Ideas have power. They can be palpable, tangible, kinetic forces. They can fuel revolutions and quell rebellions. And ideas, in the hands of writers, change people. They can people. Become part of them, part of their lexicon, become a new prism on the lens through which they see the world.

So take your ideas and palm them like the gems they are. Hug them close like nuggets of gold, stroke them like magnificent beasts. Then hold them to the light and give them to the world.

And believe in them.

They might save the world.