The Avengers (created by Stan Lee with art by Jack Kirby) first began in the early 1960s where Thor, The Wasp, Ant Man and Iron Man defeat Loki (Captain America joined The Avengers several issues later when he was found and thawed out from hibernation. He was later given naissance member status after The Hulk’s volatile behavior could not be counted on in a team situation.)
Over the decades the roster may have changed but the key members (Iron Man (Tony Stark), Captain America (Steve Rogers) and Thor) have remained. With the comic rebirth of The Avengers in what is called the Heroic Age (after The Civil War saga, The Siege and the resurrection of Steve Rogers) the comic is stronger than ever. Crisp writing, an Avengers team with Iron Man at the helm and on-point artwork makes for many storylines that can be translated to the big screen.
That said the film The Avengers is slated for 2012. As fans of the comic book series highly anticipate the screen version of their favorite heroes, it’s a good idea to look at the casting. After all could you imagine anyone other than Hugh Jackman playing Wolverine or Patrick Stewart as Professor Xavier in the X-Men films – much less for Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man? Make no mistake casting can make a movie either a successful franchise or an unmitigated disaster never to be spoken of.
Robert Downey is lightning in a bottle as the charismatic Tony Stark. Not only does he physically resemble the comic book character, he brings all of Stark’s issues off the pages and makes them come alive. The same with Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. In the first Iron Man film Jackson’s small amount of screen time made for some of the best scenes in the film. This further primed fans of these comic icons to have more scenes together. But what about the other Avengers and members of Shield?
As the film will be written and directed by Joss Whedon there will be no ignoring the rich history that the comic book has to draw intersecting storylines. His launch of Astonishing X-Men caused the comic’s rating to go from PG to Mature during his tenure. Still the actors he will direct for this film – are they right for the part?
Mark Ruffalo has recently been added to the cast as Bruce Banner. For many fans of the film version of this misunderstood character, Edward Norton was the perfect Banner. His intense, yet self-contained portrayal made you realize that Banner’s intellect could be even more dangerous than his hulked out counterpart. Even if the-powers-that-be felt the need to replace Norton, why Ruffalo?
Then there’s Captain America. You’ll remember Chris Evans as Johnny Storm from The Fantastic Four films. Well now he’s playing another iconic figure from the Marvel universe. Evans doesn’t seem to have the chops or the height to portray a character who has an awesome presence on the page. Several other actors who understand the complexity of a man such as Steve Rogers come to mind such as Chris Pine (Captain James T. Kirk, Star Trek). He has the range to portray Cap’s origin story and blend in nicely with an ensemble cast. Captain America is many things, but happy-go-lucky doesn’t come to mind and it is unclear how we can see him as the ultimate American patriot instead of The Human Torch.
Finally there’s the Black Widow, highly intelligent double agent with a talent for accents and bedfellows. If you’re going to recast Edward Norton then why not Scarlett Johansson? Seeing her stand next to Downey and Jackson makes her acting skills diminutive in nature. Yes she is attractive, but in this film she will be surrounded by acting giants. If Angelina Jolie wasn’t available, then why not Milla Jovovich? Her Resident Evil films prove that she can handle the action, and her Russian background gives her an authenticity that Johansson could not pull off in Iron Man 2.
As fans await The Avengers film one wonders – will the casting ruin the film?