As much as I loved Avengers Assemble (my review was ridiculously positive) I left the cinema with one nagging question… what next? Whedon and Marvel did the best thing they could, making this Avengers film as if it was stand-alone, their last effort, the only one. They gave the fans everything they would want to see from an Avengers film, in particular the hero vs hero and the perfectly pitched comedy! The only problem is, where do you go next? What story do you tell that warrants the Avengers Assembling one more time? Furthermore, what story do you tell that ties together all the new, single hero films (Iron Man 3, Captain America 2, Thor 2 etc) now that you’ve wrapped up the first “theme?” I have a very clear, slightly fan-boy answer – Secret Invasion!
What is Secret Invasion?
Secret Invasion is a Marvel comics story in which aliens called the Skrulls invade Earth by posing as key figures in the Marvel universe, namely superheroes. You can’t necessarily tell they are superheroes until they are killed and change back to their original form. What follows is mistrust and suspicion as the heroes (and the audience) don’t know who to trust. Ultimately we end with a final battle as the Skrulls invasion plans come to a head, calling on all Marvel heroes (and some villains) to stop the invading force (with help from technology that shows you who are Skrulls and who are “real.”)
Of course there is much more to it but is a basic overview, the barebones of the story I would use to progress the Marvel films universe.
This gives a great link between all the new films. Marvel can’t rely on each film to hint at The Avengers but it can still use them to tell a wider story. I would have at least two supporting characters die in the single films. My first thoughts were James “Rhodey” Rhodes (from Iron Man) and Jane “Norse God’s love interest” Foster (from Thor.) Each of these films have their own story with their own villain but the events lead to the deaths of these characters and, either as a post-credit or aside to the main film, they are seen to actually be Skrulls.
This theme would increase further, maybe playing a more prominent part in Captain America as the invasion of the Skrulls is becoming less and less of a secret. You could even have whoever Captain America ends up fighting turn into a Skrull at the end of his battle, bringing the Secret Invasion right to the forefront of the films and audience.
You could even have other heroes who are inevitably going to be introduced get their introduction to the Marvel universe by discovering, individually, the Skrull’s invasion plot for themselves. Rather than just have more and more random origin story, we have a key element beginning to link new heroes together.
The actual Avengers 2 film would then be the bringing together of whoever is left. We can have mistrust and suspicion as the Avengers, new and old, don’t trust each other. This would naturally result into some heated (and violent) confrontations.
That could then lead to Banner and Stark working on a way to detect these aliens while the rest of the Avengers save the heroes that have been “kidnapped and invaded. The final battle could be an interesting mix of Skrull Avengers vs Actual Avengers until the heroes get the technology that will help them detect imposters, then it becomes something much more similar to the first film but with villains that have the ability to defend themselves much better.
I think there is loads of potential to play around with this story. The idea of The Avengers not being able to trust each other and the fact that some of the heroes we have been following all this time are actually intruders could open up the possibility of some great scenes, not just an excuse for more Avengers vs Avengers.
It gives Marvel a whole new story to try to tell through at least three more films before the sequel. A story that can be occurring around the individual hero’s films without making a huge impact, something they did effectively with the first Avengers films.
I also believe that at least one of the original actors, my guess would be Downey Jr, is going to get tired of being tied to this series. Someone will quit and leave Marvel with the conundrum of remove or replace. Replacing the actor worked with Hulk but the fact that he is a huge, CGI, green monster helps. Downey Jr is Tony Stark and I can’t think of anyone being able to come close to replacing him. With this story, you can very easily “kill off” any Avengers and remove them from the story in a much more original and shocking way. It also gives you the chance to bring them back when they realise what a mistake they’ve made.
There are a lot of similarities with the first film, the final battle being against aliens is the biggest and I have ignored the post-credit villain reveal but the Secret Invasion story can include that character too – either as an ally of the villains or an unlikely ally of the heroes… or both!
Overall, I think using Secret Invasion as a basic template for the new sequel gives Marvel an easy but effective link between all the new “single hero films” while also giving them a relatively original story to use for the sequel which can include the best elements of the first film while adding some new elements too.