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"The Avengers" – Where Do We Go From Here?

JediCole here, applying my Ever-Ticking Brain to the aftermath of this summer’s The Avengers. This movie broke box-office records, delivered fans the super-hero movie we have always craved, and opened the door for a steady stream of core character sequels as well as movies based on “the whole blamed Marvel Universe”! Iron Man was always something of a given when it comes to sequel potential, but Thor, Hulk, and Captain America really did need the nudge The Avengers provides their return to solo films.

For Cap this movie served to get him back in action after the undoubted culture shock of finding himself in a different era. The Hulk got a much needed screen redemption that will leave fans anxious to enjoy his next adventure. And in Thor’s case the return of the Tessaract to Asgard affords the hero a means to travel freely back to Midgard at will. And it is the opening of Earth to other realms and dimensions that has been the focus of my thoughts on what direction the Marvel movie universe could head, at least after a fashion. If the architects of The Avengers, those who guided the progress of the solo films and paved the road to the first viable group movie, are wise they will recognize the tremendous potential for introducing aspects of the Marvel Universe to the big screen that was provided by the Chitauri invasion.

Who’s Tech Is It Anyway?

In the aftermath of Loki’s failed attempt to dominate earth and curry the favor of Thanos (a spoiler I know if you didn’t happen stay after the initial credits began to roll) the streets of Manhattan were littered with dead and dying Chitauri. And along with these unearthly remains were the weapons and accoutrements that the soldiers and their massive snake-like dragons had at their disposal. At least two distinct energy weapons and an electronic hand grenade were in evidence during the pitched battle with the Avengers. In addition to offensive weaponry there were the sky chariots and the substantial anti-gravity armor that protected the dragon creatures and kept their bulk aloft during battle.

For enterprising individuals and organizations the success of the Avengers against their extraterrestrial adversaries opens the door for an alien tech free-for-all! S.H.I.E.L.D. would be quick to collect the machinery that Dr. Selvig had built, especially since it was left on Stark property, but what of the hundreds of Chitauri bodies littering the streets of New York and their weapons and technology? Many yet to be introduced characters from the House of Ideas could certainly give their careers a good start by helping themselves to a laser pike or even some principle components of the sky sleds. If The Avengers taught us anything it is that you should always avail yourself of captured technology to your own benefit. S.H.I.E.L.D. certainly had with their Phase Two project.

In addition to superior weaponry, the Chitauri brought other technology to bear. The anti-gravity properties of their sky sleds would be much sought after as well as the component metal of the impenetrable armor that sheathed the massive dragons. It was an armor that not only protected them from harm, but also utilized anti-gravity technology. I had thought that there were other fictional metals in the Marvel Universe other than adamantium and vibranium that could lend their name to an alien alloy, but for the life of me I could not find any. However, the presence of alien artifacts could provide a resource for the entre of such materials to the big screen. But who would make the greatest advantage of clandestine cleanup efforts? It is not like there is a precise inventory available on the technology that was left behind by the attackers after all.

Bring on the Bad Guys!

Working out just who might be picking about the devastation is a compelling question. I have worked out a short list of primary suspects (other than S.H.I.E.L.D.) that could find all or part of their origins in pilfered Chitauri technology and materials.

A.I.M. – Marvel’s top technology threat in the comics comes in the form of hard fighting scientists sporting bright yellow jumpsuits that look like they came from the Dr. No Beekeeper Collection. Advanced Idea Mechanics could jumpstart their operations by obtaining and analyzing a few choice bits of alien weaponry and technology. All it would take was the opportune coincidence of an A.I.M. agent with a big truck and a few friends to load up mess of anything not of this Earth and take off unnoticed. Back at the labs a technological Pandora’s Box of possibilities would be opened that would put A.I.M. at the forefront. If only their uniform designers had some fashion sense!

This just in! Photos from a location shoot for Iron Man 3 have revealed that A.I.M. will be a part of the movie pantheon. Hopefully they will be more than just another background organization. We will know next year to be sure.

Hydra – Hail Hydra! Just because the Red Skull got sucked off into Cosmic Cube Land does not mean the entire organization would have just folded up like a house of cards. When you have devoted so much of your time to blind fanaticism it is hard to just pick up a new hobby when the founder disappears from the face of the earth. If anything, the failure of Skull’s grand scheme would have simply opened an inevitable power vacuum that could easily be filled by the equally fanatical von Strucker family. And none other than contemporary Hydra leader Baron Wolfgang von Strucker would just have turned out to have been the heir to a legacy that began in the final days of World War II. Lacking the genius of Arnim Zola and the impossible energy of the Tesseract, von Strucker would always be casting about for new resources. And the Avengers’ battle would have provided just that. As well as a major thorn in his side, the return of the man who brought down Hydra’s mastermind and master stroke in one fell swoop!

Plus, I think it would be great to see an on-screen interpretation of the traditional green and yellow togs of the Hydra rank and file.  It would be a fitting advancement into the contemporary age of the designs used for the soldiers in Captain America.  Something that captures the look of the costumes in the comics while also making the design seem more practical.  Given enough tech of their own and that adapted from aliens then there is no stopping Hydra making a second bid at taking over the world.  "At least we got Terre Haute, Indiannnaaaa..."

Arnim Zola – While on the subject of Hydra, what of the fate of their chief scientist? He would be something of a Methuselah today, but that is not really what we are getting at here anyway. No, if there is one thing that Captain America established about Zola it is his profound sense of mortality. So it would stand to reason that while faithfully serving the Allies during the tail end of the war that he would be gainfully employed for life. Undoubtedly he would turn a considerable portion of his genius into creating a means to preserve his mind if not his frail body.

On film the genesis of the fairly goofy yet strangely appealing comic book Arnim Zola would take the form of early experiments at transplanting either the physical brain or perhaps just the consciousness into a synthetic vessel with considerable longevity. Languishing in a primitive form of artificial body, Zola’s ever active mind would be constantly seeking a new and better form. The technology of another world would be more than ample for such a task and so it would be that Arnim Zola would be granted a largely headless body with a flat holographic projection of his face on the chest (personally I think such a thing would look far more striking than something akin to a television screen) – something that looked like his face was being projected like a movie onto his body, but always in the same spot no matter how much he moves about. In an added twist Zola could be credited as a chief designer of the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier and perhaps even be a background founder of A.I.M.

M.O.D.O.K. – Where you have A.I.M. you inevitably have the Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing. The folks at A.I.M. certainly do love their anagrams! The hideously macrocephalic cyborg would be a logical byproduct of technological and biological tinkering on the part of A.I.M. scientists. Attempts to augment humans with Chitauri DNA might easily have led to the mammoth-headed monstrosity that is M.O.D.O.K. Luckily they had better success replicating the anti-gravity technology which helped create the armored shell that allows their future leader to support his colossal cranium.

A combination of CG and practical effects would make this unique Marvel character look incredible on the big screen. With a long history as an adversary of nearly every group or solo hero in the Marvel Universe, M.O.D.O.K. would be an ideal villain to introduce in Iron Man 3 and bring to bear in Captain America 2. Who knows? Depending on what else was being cooked up over at A.I.M., M.O.D.O.K. could even wind up sending Cap back in time. And frankly the good Captain needs to spend a little time in his own time in one of his on-screen adventures. Perhaps he can meet Namor and Union Jack and found the Invaders while he’s at it!

Thank you to Andrew for reminding me about this big guy!

Wrecker and the Wrecking Crew – A little off topic, but related to the aftermath of The Avengers none the less, it just takes a little magic to bring the Wrecker and/or his Wrecking Crew into the fold. Or a combination of magic and technology to spice things up a bit. Andrew and I were recently talking up Thor villains and this bunch came up in conversation on his part. Of course in comics the Wrecker sports what I call the Prybar of Destiny, a common object enchanted by Loki’s magic. In the movie universe that is a bit problematic, so how do you get such a handy tool into the hands of a criminal? And how also do you bring his cohorts into the mix? Enter magic and science.

The cleanup effort in New York would be massive to say the least. Not to mention a bonanza for contractors, engineers, and builders, both legitimate and shady. Dirk Garthwaite is a contractor directly involved in some of the restoration efforts over at Stark Tower. As one of the first to assess the damage he makes the chance discovery of the curious blade used by Loki to kidney punch his brother during their confrontation out on the exterior plaza. Assuming it is just more of the junk that will be tossed out with the rubble he takes it as a souvenir.

Upon later inspection he realizes that it is forged from a metal unlike any he has ever seen. He calls in some colleagues who have also collected bits and pieces from the rubble and have been toying with them in their spare time. In working with the metals and some of the technology they have found they create the tools and augmented costumes of their new trade. After initially goofing around with their new found powers they determine that they have what it takes to take what they want by force. After a few successful bank heights (vaults being minor obstacles to the Wrecking Crew) they run afoul of Thor who proves more vulnerable to the Wrecker’s prybar (an amalgam of Asgardian, Chitauriian, and Earthly metals) than to the weapons of the other criminals. Of course they are all simply part of a larger plot with a much more profound villain in the context of a Thor film.

Ultron – Robots with delusions of grandeur are not exactly commonplace. So how do you call such an automaton into existence, especially in the Marvel Universe? Why utilize reverse engineered alien technology of course! If you can make a giant grizzly killer worm from space float around as freely on air as it would in water you can probably work up the necessary components to create a robot of your own. Since Captain America has established the extreme rarity of vibranium in the movie universe, casting Pym’s creation in that metal, as it is in the comics, is out of the question. So instead the nearly indestructible form of Ultron would be made from salvaged Chitauri alloys. In nearly every aspect the would-be robotic overlord would owe its existence to materials and science of another world. And of course there is the boundless skill and knowledge of Hank Pym.

Like Joel Hodgson, Hank Pym just wanted his own robotic pal to assist in the lab and showcase the full measure of his genius. Perhaps looking upon his metal Frankenstein’s monster as the prototype of a future army of drone protectors, he dubs his creation Ultron and calls it a day. Pym has bigger (or smaller – see below) fish to fry. As a result of complex algorithms and combination of interstellar and Earthly computer technology the Ultron unit becomes self aware. If you are familiar with the character in comics then you know that ol’ Ultry comes equipped with energy blasting capabilities standard. That would seem an odd design choice at best on screen, but there is a way around this.

If Ultron is presented initially as an artificial assistant to Pym, an entity incapable of coveting the secrets discovered in the scientist’s research, Ultron would have the run of the labs while his creator busies himself with perfecting shrinking gases, brainwave broadcasting helmets, and of course his second robot, Vision. And the third one, Wonder Man. That Pym! He just don’t know when to stop! Meanwhile Ultron has taken his cues from Tony Stark when he was held by the Ten Rings and begun to weaponize himself with whatever he can find at hand. Satisfied with his weaponry and certain of the superiority of robots over humanity, this one-unit Skynet blasts his way out of the labs and off to infamy as one of the Avengers’ most deadly foes.

Who Wants To Be a Super-Hero?

Project Pegasus – Eagle eyed (or perhaps Hawkeyed?) members of the audience for The Avengers might have noticed that S.H.I.E.L.D. was studying the Tessarct at Project Pegasus. The Marvel movies keep on giving fans little touches of the Marvel Universe! So it would stand to the Project would be utilized for the post war appraisals of captured ordinance. In the comics Project Pegasus was not only a research facility studying unique forms of energy, it also served as a prison at times for some of the world’s most powerful super criminals. It would stand to reason that it would take on this capacity in future movies as well.

With that secondary capacity in mind it would further require no great leap of logic to imagine one of Project Pegasus would have a mandate to develop technologies that would siphon off, negate, or otherwise quell the various super powers that are becoming all too commonplace. Such research would inevitably lead to a decision being made to use the secret facilities as an ideal location for incarcerating appropriate villains where the technology to hold them was developed. In this way Project Pegasus would become a lasting and important part of the movie universe.

Guardsman – Stark/Iron Man technology has become a familiar well from which to draw in the movies, if Whiplash in Iron Man 2 and the recently leaked Iron Patriot from Iron Man 3 are any indication. Spice things up with some alien alloys or technologies and you have a means to bring yet another armored warrior to the forefront.  And Guardsman is a good choice given that the original person to bear this alter-ego and wear the armor was the eventual head of reasearch for Stark Industries, Kevin O'Brien.

Establish O'Brien in the background of some of the films leading up to the second Avengers movie as perhaps someone working with S.H.I.E.L.D. as well as Stark.  This would make him the ideal candiate to eventually run the Vault.  Take a little movie universe license to meld the Vault with Project Pegasus by making the former the super prison portion of the latter.  With Guardsman well established in advance, having him take the regins as warden of the most dangerous prison on Earth you have the stuff of a heavy hitting movie plot for the future of Marvel Films.

Ant-Man – An odd choice I know, but bear with me here. Henry “Hank” Pym was, in the Marvel Universe, something akin to the Professor from Gilligan’s Island. He seemed to be an expert in everything. How else does one explain his combined work as engineer, chemist, physicist, and entomologist in creating his initial heroic alter ego? Not to mention his microbiological and cybernetic skills when it came to grafting workable artificial wings to his wife’s back so she could become the Wasp. Then of course there is the aforementioned expertise in robotics. This scientific Jack of all trades would seem more realistic if he was just the head of a S.H.I.E.L.D. team analyzing the technologies of the Chitauri. Should they ever attempt to invade Earth again, a good line of defense would be necessary after all.

The alien technology at his disposal would not undermine his inherent genius but rather give it a new direction. The genesis of Ant-Man would work something like this on screen: Pym discovers a gas that can alternately shrink or grow someone. It is a perfect tool for his work in analyzing the captured technology in a minute form. While toying with the communications and power reception technology of the Chitauri battle armor he accidentally stumbles on a frequency that attracts and controls ants. Seeing a benefit to the Avengers team, Pym develops a helmet that will allow him to communicate with and control colonies of ants and, coupled with a supply of his shrinking gas, goes out in the field to prove himself. Probably much to Nick Fury’s chagrin, but then Fury would have to admire someone who takes charge and makes his own decisions even if they are not in line with those of his superiors.

Moon Knight - When was the last time you saw a crescent moon-shaped helicopter fly by? Never? Exactly! Because it is physically impossible to fly such a craft! That is unless you have some alien technology and material at hand! If the Chitauri can float a dragon-worm then their anti-gravity technology could certainly make it possible to build a contraption the likes of which Moon Knight favors! Not to mention lending some assistance to making his weaponry technology based rather than of mystical origins.

Simply put, Marc Spector and his pal “Frenchie” were already developing plans for his introduction into the budding realm of super-heroics when the events of The Avengers were playing out so it would prove an ideal time to make good use of what was left laying about. Furthermore, it serves as confirmation that he’s heading in the right direction in becoming Moon Knight. Simply put, the timing would be right to open the doors to a great many heroes to take the field against an alarmingly growing number of powerful villains. And Moon Knight is certainly up for the task. By weaving his comic origins into this aspect of the movie universe would be a great means to illustrate how others are inspired to take up the mantle who do not directly benefit from Chitauri technology.

S.H.I.E.L.D. – Naturally the big winner in all of this is the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division. Nick Fury and company would be charged with gathering up the lion’s share of what remained on the battlefield. From Selvig’s doorway opener to every scrap of metal and ordinance untouched by others, operatives would be charged with analyzing the daylights out of everything. And determining how it would benefit the organization in the long term. You can’t count on the Avengers saving your bacon at every turn after all!

For my money one of the no-brainer outcomes of all of this would be the development of the trademark S.H.I.E.L.D. flying car! Yep! Long before Doc Brown souped up his DeLorean in the future, Nick Fury and other agents had some fairly standard looking rides equipped with non-standard flight capabilities. Get a little hovering action going, rotate the wheels to have the hubcaps facing the street, and away you go! All of that would be much simpler to create with a little Chitauri technology on board! Not to mention the improvements to the helicarrier that would be possible.  And in addition to the flying car, let's not forget that Clint Barton had a fondness for buzzing about on an Avengers sky cycle while firing arrows at the enemies of justice!  I'm just saying, the man needs his toys! 

Done right, almost anything seemingly too technological for the real world could be easily explained away with the available advanced tech from the other side of the universe. And even for those who were not lucky enough to get in on the leavings from the high-tech piñata that was the Avengers’ first battle, the possibilities suggested would get their fertile minds heading in new directions. Your various Mad Thinkers, Tinkerers, and Leaders would benefit in a fringe fashion in their own right. And we have Loki and Thanos to thank for it all!


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