As if Scarlett Johansson in tight black pleather is not stimuli enough, rave advance reviews have the geekoverse drooling over this Friday’s U.S. release of The Avengers. Virtually all critics say writer/director Joss Whedon (oh, more geek tingles!) has fleshed out the six Avengers team members — Iron Man, Captain America, The Hulk, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Thor — as substantial characters and made the film more than just a CGI explosion fest.
So why not 10 or 11 Avengers, Joss? Huh?
Obviously, you can only do so much in even a two and a half hour movie. And it’s hard to complain about the six Avengers who did make the roster, unless you want to get all real-world and suggest that a karate chick with guns adds little to a team filled with guys who can toss around city buses (three words: tight black pleather).
But it’s still fun to argue about other Avengers from the Marvel Comics universe who could have added a little extra oomph to the mix, or at least deserve a look for the inevitable sequel. Just to mix things up, we did not include charter members Ant-Man or the Wasp (who are pretty boring, truth be told) or the most painfully obvious omission, The Vision. The Dorkly video below kind of says it all. Maybe Iron Man had the “super strong, flying, laser robot” toy line covered, at least for this round.
Because pretty much every Marvel hero (including Spider-Man and all four members of FF) has been an Avenger at some point, we also limited our list to characters that have a long-standing relationship with the most indiscriminant of superhero unions.
So, without further ado, here is our list of five Avengers movie candidates.
The Black Panther (first joined in Avengers vol. 1 #52, 1968): What is it going to take to get this guy into a live-action movie, already? T’Challa, the mystically empowered king of the Wakanda, can kick serious tail. He has claws, which are big with the kids these days. His regal bearing and headstrong manner would drive both Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark and Captain America nuts in the Mighty Marvel Manner. He would add both international and romantic tensions to the team mix. And, as we said before, he kicks serious tail (as does Jack “King” Kirby, as seen in this image).
The Scarlett Witch (first joined in Avengers vol. 1 #16, 1965): The daughter of X-Men mega-baddie Magneto is another weird omission from the swelling Marvel movie franchises. Wanda Maximoff began her career as a villain (as did Hawkeye, at least in the comics), and an element of mistrust always adds a little spice to a team dynamic. And her power, the ability to manipulate probability through casting “hexes,” adds a nifty dimension to a team that, at least in Whedon’s lineup, punches and shoots things. She’s also married to a robot, so there’s a path to rolling in The Vision and a little misunderstood love for a sequel. And there’s nothing wrong with tight red pleather, come to think of it.
Hellcat (first joined in Avengers vol. 1 #151, 1976): Assuming the franchise wants to stick with a sense of quirky humor in further installments, why not include one of the quirkiest characters in the Marvel cannon? Patsy Walker was the star of popular teen romance comics in the ‘40s, but by the ‘70s she had become bored with married life and was hanging out with superheroes. Tagging along on a mission with The Avengers, she ended up with an old Tigra costume, and there you have it. Hellcat is basically the Black Widow without the guns, training, attitude, personal tragedy - you get the picture. She recently starred in a mini-series entitled Marvel Divas. The Widow would hate her so much. Good fun.
The Black Knight (first joined in Avengers vol. 1 #71, December 1969): Dane Whitman adopted the mantle of The Black Knight to atone for the sins of earlier villains in his lineage. He has employed a number of magical and non-magical weapons (photonic sword!) in his career. It’s always good to kill off a really stupid character in the second act of a movie, so Dane has found his perfect cinematic calling.
The Sensational She-Hulk (first joined in Avengers vol. 1 #221, 1982): Let’s face it: The She-Hulk should be in every Marvel movie. Thrown together as a trademark gimmick — Marvel was worried that the popular Hulk TV show would introduce a female version of the character — Jennifer Walters, cousin to Bruce Banner, was the last character introduced by Stan Lee before his departure from the company. She first joined the Avengers in her “Savage She-Hulk” days, but she has since evolved into the most together character in the entire Marvel universe. She’s an attorney, she’s gorgeous, she can throw around multiple city buses, she has a deadpan sense of humor, and she is refreshingly angst-free. Best known as the “fifth Beatle” to the Fantastic Four, the Sensational She-Hulk fits pretty seamlessly into any superhero situation. She can certainly hold her own against anything The Avengers are facing, and in the film franchise, she would shut down Tony Stark’s smarmy advances in about 15 seconds. Movie magic.