Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Avengers: Who's Your Favorite?

The Avengers is one of my most anticipated films this year. When the film was first announced I just couldn’t stop digging any available info on the film online—I grabbed every opportunity to read and watch every sneak peek, every film leak and every rumor about the film.

While I was looking for spoilers online, I came about Jen Van Meter’s Five Favorite Avengers. Van Meter’s list reminded me about my list of favorite X-Men characters.

If I have a list of favorite X-Men, do I have a list of favorite Avengers? Yes, I do. The Avengers has a very large roster—though there are only six Avengers in the upcoming film. With subgroups like the Secret Avengers, West Coast Avengers, and New Avengers, one can have several favorites. I have multiple favorite Avengers but I tried my best to narrow it down to six. Below are my favorite Avengers:

Steve Rogers was a scrawny fine arts student growing up during the Great Depression. In early 1940, Steve attempted to enlist in the army but failed to pass the physical requirements. He was, however, invited to volunteer for the Super-Soldier project, receiving a special serum made by Abraham Erskine. The serum was a success, and transforms the frail Steve Rogers into a perfect specimen--a nearly perfect human being with peak strength, agility, stamina, and intelligence.

In late April 1945, during the closing days of World War II, Captain America and Bucky try to stop the villainous Baron Zemo from destroying an experimental drone plane. Zemo launches the plane with an armed explosive on it, Rogers and Barnes in hot pursuit. The pair reached the plane just before take off. When Bucky tries to defuse the bomb, it explodes in mid-air. The young man is believed killed. Rogers is hurled into the freezing waters of the North Atlantic. Neither is found, and both are presumed dead.

Years later, the superhero team the Avengers discovers Steve Rogers' body in the North Atlantic, the Captain's uniform under his soldier's fatigues and still carrying his shield. After he revives, they piece together that Rogers had been preserved in a block of ice since 1945, surviving in such a state only because of his enhancements from Operation: Rebirth.

Rogers accepts membership in the Avengers, and although long out of his time, his considerable combat experience makes him a valuable asset to the team. He quickly assumes leadership, when most of the team took a leave of absence.

Anthony "Tony" Stark was born to Howard Anthony Stark and Maria Collins Carbonell Stark, owners of the prominent US firm, Stark Industries. As a boy, Tony was fascinated with building and controlling machines. At the age of 21, Tony inherited Stark Enterprises when his parents were killed in a car accident secretly orchestrated by a rival corporation.

While observing the effects of his experimental technologies on the American war effort, Tony Stark is injured by a booby trap and captured by the enemy led by Wong-Chu, who then orders him to design weapons. However, Stark's injuries are dire and shrapnel is moving towards his heart. His fellow prisoner, Ho Yinsen, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist whose work Stark had greatly admired during college, constructs a magnetic chest plate to keep the shrapnel from reaching Stark's heart, keeping him alive. In secret, Stark and Yinsen use the workshop to design and construct a suit of powered armor, which Stark uses to escape. But during the escape attempt, Yinsen sacrifices his life to save Stark's by distracting the enemy as Stark recharges. Stark takes revenge on his kidnappers and heads back to rejoin the American forces, on his way meeting a wounded American Marine fighter pilot, James "Rhodey" Rhodes.

Back home, Stark discovers that the shrapnel fragment lodged in his chest cannot be removed without killing him, and he is forced to wear the armor's chest plate beneath his clothes to act as a regulator for his heart. He must also recharge the chest plate every day or else risk the shrapnel killing him. The cover for Iron Man is that he is Stark's bodyguard and corporate mascot.

Seeking revenge against his brother Thor, Loki tricks the Hulk into destroying a railroad track. He then diverts a radio call by Rick Jones for help to Thor, whom Loki hopes will battle the Hulk. Unknown to Loki, the radio call is also answered by Ant-Man, the Wasp, and Iron Man. After an initial misunderstanding, the heroes unite and defeat Loki after Thor is lured away by an illusion of the Hulk and suspects Loki when he realizes it is an illusion. Ant-Man states that the five work well together and suggests they form a combined team; the Wasp names the group "the Avengers" because it sounded "dramatic".

Wanda and his twin brother Pietro were born the Wundagore base of the High Evolutionary. As Wundagore was no place for human infants, the High Evolutionary places them in the care of the Romani Django and Marya Maximoff, who raise the twins as their own children. The twins are forced to flee a mob when Wanda uses her powers to protect herself and accidentally causes a fire that kills their adoptive Roma mother.

As adolescents Pietro and his sister Wanda discovered that they are in fact mutants. Pietro possesses superhuman speed, while Wanda learns that she can control probability. When the pair display their powers in public, and are again attacked by a superstitious crowd, they are saved by their father—now the supervillain Magneto—although neither Magneto nor his children are aware of their connection. Magneto then recruits the pair for the first incarnation of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. The Brotherhood battles the X-Men on several occasions, and the twins become reluctant members of the Brotherhood and only remain because of their obligation to Magneto. When Magneto and his lackey Toad are abducted by the cosmic entity Stranger, the Brotherhood dissolves and the twins declare that their debt to Magneto has been paid.

Soon after Magneto's abduction, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch are recruited by the Iron Man to join the Avengers. The remaining founding members had all gone on a leave of absence, leaving Captain America to lead an all-new lineup including Wanda, Pietro, and the former villain Hawkeye.

Clint Barton was orphaned at an early age when his parents died in a car accident and was sent to a children's home with his brother Bernard. He and his brother ran away to join the Carson Carnival of Traveling Wonders, and the pair worked as roustabouts. Hawkeye was trained by the original Swordsman and Trickshot. Clint's life, however, would forever be changed after he stumbled onto the Swordsman counting the money he had just robbed from the carnival. Before he could turn his mentor over to the authorities, Clint was beaten and left for dead, allowing the Swordsman to skip town.

His natural archery abilities honed to an expert level, Clint wandered the country, working in various carnivals or otherwise making money out of the costume and persona of "Hawkeye". One day, when witnessing Iron Man save the lives of some people at the carnival, he decided to become a costumed crime-fighter himself. But as luck would have it, on Hawkeye's first night on patrol, he was mistaken for a criminal by the police and hunted down.

He soon met the Black Widow, who was working at the time as a costumed villain for her country, and she easily seduced the hot-headed adventurer, making him think it was in his interest to defeat Iron Man.  In one of their battles with Iron Man, the Black Widow is seriously injured. Hawkeye rescues her and flees the battle to save her life. But before Hawkeye can take her to a hospital, the Black Widow disappears.

Hawkeye later rescues Edwin Jarvis and his mother from a mugger. In gratitude, Jarvis invites Hawkeye to Avengers Mansion and stages a confrontation to allow the archer to clear his name and gain the trust of the Avengers. Hawkeye is then sponsored by his former enemy Iron Man, and he joined the new line-up that included Captain America, the Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver.

James "Bucky" Barnes is an orphan, the son of a soldier killed in training at U.S. Army Camp Lehigh in Virginia just before the United States' entry into World War II. Barnes was unofficially adopted as the camp’s mascot and gained a reputation as a notorious troublemaker. It was at Lehigh that he meets and befriends Private Steven Rogers. Bucky accidentally walked in on Rogers changing into his uniform, thus discovering his friend was Captain America and insisted that he join him. He underwent extensive training and was assigned to be Captain America's partner. Throughout the war, Cap and Bucky fought alongside infantry and with a group of heroes known as the Invaders.

In the closing months of World War II, Captain America and Bucky were both presumed dead in an explosion over the English Channel. Later, it was learned that Bucky was revived and brainwashed by Soviets and made into the assassin Winter Soldier. Captain America found Winter Soldier and returned his memory with a Cosmic Cube and Bucky went M.I.A. After the apparent murder of Steve Rogers, Bucky took on Steve's mantle and his mission.

As Captain America, Bucky is apparently killed in battle with Skadi. He survives because he had been injected with the Infinity Formula. With the world believing him dead he returned to his former identity of Winter Soldier to perform special jobs behind the scenes relating to his earlier days as the Winter Soldier.

The Avengers will be hitting the cinemas on April 25. Me, I’ve reserved tickets a month ago and I’m watching the film on IMAX 3D.

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