Avengers Movie Vs Avengers #’s 1-3 : An Overview

Avengers: The Movie

The Avengers movie has grossed $1.4 billion world wide.  That is a superheroic amount of money.

But I seriously doubt this amount of money was ever envisioned by the creative team and managers of Marvel Comics in 1963.

I am happy to own the DVD-ROM called 40 Years of Avengers.  I also own the first few Marvel Masterworks featuring the Avengers.  I love these 1960’s comics – I also own some omnibuses of Iron Man, Hulk and DC Archives of The Justice League of America.  I enjoy reading the comics of the 1960’s and much of what I enjoy about the 1960’s is also present in the Avengers movie.  On the other hand, there are aspects of the Avengers movie that I find superior to the 1960’s.  This post is the first of several where I will be comparing and contrasting the movie to the first three issues of the Avengers comic book; Sept 1963 to Jan 1964.

Avengers: The Comic Books

The first three issues of the comic books has one particular theme that ties them all together – How Does The Incredible Hulk Fit In?  This is a big difference from the movie, which is about stopping Loki.  As can be seen from the covers, this story arc actually ends up using three different villains, namely Loki, The Space Phantom and The Submariner.

And this brings us to the first major point to ponder.  Which do you prefer more, a villain that has a grandiose scheme and needs to be stopped or a villain that is working out some personal issues with the heroes?  In issue #1, Loki manipulates the Hulk into destroying a bridge in front of a train.  Loki’s goal is to generate enough news that Thor will come out of semi-retirement to stop the Hulk’s rampage, whereupon Loki can spring a trap on Thor.  Issues #2 and #3 also lack any world shattering schemes.  The Space Phantom and The Submariner have decided to attack the Avengers simply because they are not the Fantastic Four and the villains hope they can score an easy victory.

The point of the comic books was to explore how very disparate heroes such as Iron Man and Thor can come together and work as a team.  Both of them had already had a few adventures as solo heroes before this book was published.  Ant Man and The Wasp had their own adventures as a duo.  So it makes sense that these first three issues explore what it takes to be a team.  The three comic books gives each hero a chance to show how his/her super powers can help, a chance to be humbled as his/her weaknesses and vulnerabilities are exploited and a chance for each hero to help cover and make-up for the vulnerabilities of their teammates.

Issue #3 is a marvelous telling of how as a team they are greater than the sum of the parts.  In the first half of Issue #3, Hulk wants to escape Iron Man, Thor and Giant Man/Ant Man.  Each of these heroes individually takes a crack at Hulk but fail to corral him.  In the second half of the issue, Hulk teams up with The Submariner to challenge the Avengers.  This time the Avengers work as a team instead of taking turns as individuals.  Thus they succeed in overcoming the combined might of Hulk and The Submariner.  It reminds me of a Bruce Lee film;  every time a gang attacks Bruce Lee their timing is such that he can take each thug out in turn.  The Avengers get past a similar shortcoming by attacking in twos or threes.

The movie also explores what it takes to make a team.  Iron Man and Captain America begin the film at odds and it takes a major sacrifice by a supporting character to get them on the same page.  As the movie moves into its climactic battle, the three headstrong powerhouses (Hulk, Thor and Iron Man) realize that Captain America has a handle on the grand tactics of the battle and they need to listen to him.  So the film does more than the early comic books, it explores both team making and also gives us a big juicy villainous plot.

I plan to tackle the nature of the big juicy villainous plot versus more immediate, personal plots in later posts.  Stay tuned as I ponder how one can make an Avengers movie that has the personal investment of the first Rambo movie, First Blood.


About dbpyritohedron
Working on a group of genre settings for use with the HERO System

3 Responses to Avengers Movie Vs Avengers #’s 1-3 : An Overview

  1. The comic world was very different in the early 1960s. The Avengers reportedly came to be because of a mandate from Martin Goodman (Marvel’s publisher) to Stan Lee to create a comic to compete against DC’s Justice League. Which is why we see Marvel’s biggest heroes banded together here (with the exception of Spider-Man). In some ways, it is charming to see how simplistic these stories are. They are like a young child’s idea of what a superhero’s life would be like. I am not really sure we can compare the movie to these issues because of this aspect. Iron Man, Hulk and Thor in these comics are not really the characters we see in the movie. Those characters are more akin to their recent incarnations (most notably the Thor character) which are made to appeal to more modern readers who wouldn’t accept such simplistic plots and characters that Marvel presented in the early 1960s.

  2. dbpyritohedron says:

    I would say that the villainous plots of the early 1960’s were pretty simplistic, but the villainous plots of the 2012 is barely more complex. There are more steps to the plan and there is a deeper character motivation, but nonetheless Loki’s plot can be summed up as “Embarrass Thor by taking over the World”. What the plots of the early 1960’s really lacked as compared to today is a viable point. “Attack the Avengers” is the goal of both the Space Phantom and Submariner. There’s no depth of reasoning ever presented. So perhaps the better word to describe the plots of 1960’s is shallow.

  3. Ronny says:

    The addition of fifty years of stories to any character or team creates a tangible history. It is no surprise that as more stories are told, their complexity and focus change. I think we have seen a deeper understanding of many characters simply by the length of time and storytelling that has taken place. Thus, we often know the characters (across many incarnations), their motivations and faults, their highs and lows. We place this accumulated knowledge of characters, splicing the parts we like best, into our assumed vision we hold in our minds. I feel that movies have a difficult time building the depth of character that we have witnessed through 50 years of stories. Instead they take one small variant and focus on their outward capabilities instead of their inward drive and development. The stories, whether old or new, are really just background dressing for the exploration of character (costume wearing may they be). Its through a constant exploration, over time, that creates iconic fictional characters.

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