Note from T, The Focused Filmographer:
Welcome to AVENGERS WEEK! -where we take a more-or-less chronological shared look at the “prequel” films and characters in preparation for The Avengers. In case you missed the introductory post explaining the exciting entire week, please visit HERE. Let the festivities BEGIN!
Today, Morgan from Morgan On Media shares his thoughts/expectations of both Loki and Hawkeye in The Avengers! Thank you, Morgan.
It was, in a way, inevitable. From the moment Marvel Entertainment started putting out superhero movies — in particular, good superhero movies — comic book fans have been champing at the bit at the idea of putting the heroes together and creating a movie featuring The Avengers as a team. Curiously, but fortunately, this urge was largely in place before any of the relevant heroes actually had their own movies. The success of the X-Men and Spider-Man had fans calling for the Avengers, and Marvel drew up a road map to make it happen. A series of films showcasing the heroes in their own adventures… all leading up to one big superhero star-studded adventure.
The principal characters are all now in place, and The Avengers is finally on the verge of being revealed to the world. Each film had its own part to play in setting up The Avengers, but it can be argued that Thor provided more of the setup than most. Each film introduced its main character and set them up for their induction in the team, and some went a step further and introduced other characters, such as Black Widow in Iron Man 2, or Nick Fury’s cameos in all of the films. (Be sure to look at each film showcased during this series of Avengers Week.)
But Thor introduces not only Thor himself, but also gives an even greater look at SHIELD Agent Coulson, who is being marketed as an important character in the film. But there are two additional pivotal characters that we are also introduced to in Thor: Hawkeye and Loki.
Hawkeye, a fellow superhero who will be a part of the team; and, most importantly, Loki — the main villain of not only Thor, but also of The Avengers. I’ll be taking a look at the latter two characters, and exploring how Thor sets them up for their roles in The Avengers, and what form those roles may take.
Character Spotlight: LOKI
First up, we have Loki. As with most good villains, Loki isn’t simply a token “evil face” in the movie for the hero to fight. In a lot of ways, Thor is as much Loki’s story as it is Thor’s. We see the young man who desperately craves his father’s respect, to be considered worthy of sitting upon the throne of Asgard — even if he claims he does not actually want the throne in and of itself. The movie hints at adventures that Loki has shared with his brother previously. It’s unfortunate, but the movie doesn’t get to show us much of the happier times that Loki and Thor had before the events in question — indeed, Marvel’s comics introduced the character long after his turn to villainy had already begun.
By contrast, the original Norse myths had several stories set earlier than that, featuring Loki as a heroic character fighting and practicing his tricks alongside his fellow Asgardians, before his eventual turn to evil. The need to move the plot quickly and set the stage means the movie has to gloss over this aspect of their relationship, and though we do see Thor’s love for Loki, we see little to indicate any positive emotions Loki may have felt for his brother. We see only his envy of his older, more favored brother, whom he regards as a simpleton, and so he engages in dangerous pranks, bringing the Frost Giants of Jotunheim into Asgard to disrupt his brother’s ascension to the throne.
And in the aftermath of his prank, Loki finds his brother banished, his father temporarily lost to the Odinsleep, and himself in charge of Asgard… after having found out a critical truth about his actual parentage. He is, himself, a Jotun by birth. It’s unclear just how much malice was in his original prank, or indeed just how much of the outcome was planned beyond delaying Thor’s ascension. After this revelation, however, Loki’s personality has clearly become twisted around itself, and a character with questionable morals becomes unquestionably evil. The love-hate relationship he had with his adoptive father and brother now extends to himself as well. He is prideful, but insecure. Arrogant, but filled with self-loathing. With his purpose — to bring peace between the Jotun and the Asgardians — lost by his own hand, he still seeks his own aggrandizement and his father’s approval. He has gone mad, but like the most dangerous of madmen retains his ability to scheme and plot like a master. Thor manages to stop his schemes, naturally. But though defeated, Loki remains at large.
The big question for his role in The Avengers, of course, is how a villain who was thwarted by one hero can pose a threat for an entire team of heroes, including the one that previously defeated him. Long time Marvel comic book readers know, however, that it was the threat of Loki that originally caused the Avengers to assemble in the comics, and it is only fitting that it be Loki who draws them together for the movie as well. And how do they raise the threat level for Loki? By upping his power. There is an after-the-credits scene in Thor that shows Loki peeking in on a top-secret SHIELD investigation of an artifact of unlimited power… an artifact that will be immediately recognizable to the comic book fans, or to fans who saw a fraction of its power in Captain America: The First Avenger.
I fully expect that the plot of The Avengers will be kicked off by Loki’s theft of the cosmic cube and his use of it to augment his own powers to the point where he becomes a global threat. His motivations in this, however, are somewhat more up in the air. Revenge against his brother? A desire to simply prove himself worthy of rule, by power if not by right? Or is it simply a matter of lashing out at everything, seeking pure annihilation? Any of these might be plausible, given the character of Loki as shown in the movie, and any would be true not only to the character as presented in the comics, but also in the original Norse mythology. Regardless of his reasons, it is clear that Loki is already positioned to be a force to be reckoned with.
Character Spotlight: HAWKEYE
At the opposite end of the spectrum from Loki, we have Hawkeye. Where Loki is a villain, Hawkeye is a hero. Where Loki seeks the power to rule, Hawkeye takes orders, although not always to the letter. Where Loki has powerful magic and will soon have vast cosmic power, Hawkeye has a bow. And where Loki had nearly as much screen time and characterization devoted to him in Thor as the title character himself, Hawkeye had three minutes, thirty-five seconds. I checked. And he’s not even on screen for most of that.
And yet Hawkeye is expected to be a significant character in the film. He is featured prominently in the marketing, from the posters to spots in the trailers. The difficult task for the filmmakers here is going to be making the audience care about this character that they hardly know, and making it seem as if he belongs in this crowd of superheroes. Now, I know this is going to get some Marvel fans in a bit of an uproar, and I understand that. Hawkeye has been a popular character among Marvel comics readers since his creation, and while not among the original line-up of Avengers, he’s been one of the more popular members and a steady member of the team. Clint Barton’s a popular guy, and he’s a pretty cool character. But the number of comic book readers is dwarfed by the number of movie goers who have been watching these films, and who Marvel hopes will continue to watch them. This is a group of people for whom Nick Fury has always been Samuel L. Jackson; they don’t know Clint Barton from Adam, and sadly Thor did not give them much to go on. With a screen time that can reasonably be measured in seconds, it’s entirely possible most of the audience didn’t even notice there was something they were supposed to be paying attention to (by contrast, see the supporting role and action sequence given to Black Widow in Iron Man 2).
The film does give the uninitiated members of the audience a few clues as to Hawkeye’s nature if they do pay attention. As Agent Coulson gives the instruction that he needs eyes up high with a gun, Barton instead grabs his bow. Later, he tells Coulson that if he wants to give the order to shoot Thor, he’d better hurry, as he’s “starting to root for him”. It’s not much, but it does show that Barton is a little bit of a rake, prone to choosing his own methods over his direct orders, and not above giving smart remarks to his superior. We can probably expect him to be the main “quipper” in the team; whether or not he’ll have any character development beyond that is hard to say. Hawkeye has been ill-served by the setup for his role in The Avengers; there really hasn’t been a place for him in any of the films. In some ways, it’s a pity that The Avengers comes before Captain America 2, as Hawkeye would probably fit very well in a plot that re-established Cap’s place in society, as a similar low-tech no-magic combat-oriented superhero.
But with The Avengers serving in part as that plot arc for Cap, Hawkeye goes from being a secondary hero to one ally among many, and the only one to not have any significant time given to his character previously. I’m unsure he’ll come out favorably as a result. Too little time devoted to him in The Avengers, and he’ll just be “that smart mouth with a bow”, and barely remembered. Too much time, and it’ll seem as though the movie devoted an excess of screen time to a character who wasn’t an integral part of any of the films before.
It’ll be a tricky balancing act, complicated further by the question of how someone with a bow (albeit a modern compound bow) measures up to a god of Thunder or a man in a suit of iron. The filmmakers have given themselves a challenging task with Hawkeye, to make him seem as cool as the other characters in the film, and to do it essentially without the aid of a prior film, unlike the other characters. Will they pull it off? Well, I hope so. He’s a character that can be done well, and should provide an interesting dynamic to the team. But even if his portrayal winds up being rather flat, at least Thor has done its job with Loki, setting him up to be the Big Bad that The Avengers needs him to be. -Morgan
(Read a discussion thread on Morgan’s page about the costume change for Hawkeye HERE.)
Don’t Forget: Vote for your choice of Avenger in the Special Edition of “Time to Vote Tuesday” HERE.
Up Next: Tajuana shares her review of Captain America: The First Avenger and her thoughts/expectations of the hero in The Avengers! Stay Tuned.
–T, The Focused Filmographer