Marvel’s “Avengers vs X-Men” mini-series trundles on, although for the non-comics world, the clock is definitely ticking toward the moment when nobody even remembers the X-Men – the “Avengers” movie, already praised by every critic in in the world, is about to hit movie theaters and become the biggest geek-fest since the Third Lateran Council (rumors that a certain X-Men – not to mention a certain web-slinger – make lightning-quick cameo appearances in said movie will just have to wait a day for confirmation or dismissal). Thinking about those big-screen incarnations of these grand old comics titles really underscores what an outmoded system Hollywood uses by relying on actual physical actors for their special effects extravaganzas … if the movie-going public were as well-acclimated to entirely animated characters like gamers find in their video games, not only would that technology itself now be vastly more advanced, but something like a big-screen “Avengers vs X-Men” movie would be entirely possible – only with digitally reproduced likenesses opening the casting doors wide! Imagine Errol Flynn as Tony Stark! A young Arnold Schwarzenegger as Thor! A young James Dean as the tortured Cyclops! Robert Redford, of course, as Captain America … and best of all, a young, dynamic James Cagney as Wolverine! And all of them displaying not some very expensive rough approximation of their comic-book superpowers but a glorious exact translation of them! But instead, Hollywood is yoked to ‘real people,’ whose personal schedules, rampant greed, and various drug addictions are almost impossible to line up into one movie, let alone ten … maddening.
In the meantime, we have comic book mini-series like “AvX”! As you may recall, the story is fairly simple (at least as far as comics stories go): the Phoenix Force, a gigantically destructive alien energy being (in the form of an enormous bird – one can only imagine the destructive capacity of the Basset Force), is headed for Earth intent on using a human being as a host-body and wreaking incalculable damage. The hostess mostest likely is a young mutant super-hero named Hope, and that makes her the football in a grudge-match between the X-Men, who hope she might be able to harness the Phoenix energies to restore the ravaged ranks of mutantkind, and the Avengers, who want to take the girl into protective custody until they can figure out a way to defeat the Phoenix Force. This grudge-match naturally makes life difficult for the eighteen or nineteen super-powered Marvel characters who’ve at one point or another been both X-Men and Avengers … all except Wolverine, who alone has no conflict about what has to be done: he just wants to kill Hope, seeing that as the only solution to the coming problem (he had the same stabby solution in mind when the Scarlet Witch went rogue – what can we say? He’s Canadian).
In this latest issue, the fact that he wants to solve his problems with cold-blooded homicide brings him into conflict with Captain America, and there’s a quick little fight in the back of an Avengers aircraft, with Cap getting in some solid punches and Wolverine trying to gut the hero of WWII. It’s fairly well done stuff by artist John Romita Jr., although it raises a question I’ve been asking about Wolverine for some thirty years now: why the Hell wouldn’t the rest of Marvel’s super-heroes just take a second and pot this guy? Is there even a single character in the Marvel line-up who hasn’t been slashed, stabbed, or gutted by Wolverine – and never when he’s possessed or anything like that, just because he thought it was the right thing to do at the time? Why doesn’t the Human Torch simply blast all the flesh off his bones and call it a maiming averted? There’s not a court in the land that would convict him.
Be that as it may, the Avengers don’t pot him – they just dump him out of the plane and go on their way … an incredibly contrived way writer Ed Brubaker has thought up to split both teams into more manageable groups for hero-fighting purposes (ala “The Avengers vs The Defenders,” from long, long ago). Those match-ups will likely happen next issue, if they don’t happen off-stage in one of the “AvX” spin-off titles. We’ll see next time.