Saturday, September 14, 2019

Could an A-Force Movie Work?

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After such a long hiatus, it feels weird to go back to this blog. There were a lot of personal reasons I stopped posting. As it is, I’m probably not going to post regularly again. I don’t think I will go back and fill in the gap by reviewing everything I missed. But I do want to continue the speculation articles, especially looking at everything that’s coming with the FOX acquisition and the introduction of Disney+.

Friday I saw a video on YouTube that really got me thinking. In the video, the speaker talks about a rumor that Marvel is planning an A-Force movie as a follow-up to the She-Hulk Disney+ series. Looking at the comments, the reception from that particular audience was… skeptical, to say the least! I can understand why people would be less-than-thrilled with the idea of a “Ladies Night Out” superhero movie, especially in a world of “All must bow to the will of Political Correctness.” Previous attempts at all-female reboots/sequels have had mixed success (see Ghostbusters). I’m sure a lot of the male readers here are thinking, “Why would I want to see a bunch of chicks fighting?”

At the same time, I am of the opinion (with the regard to the MCU) that any Marvel property can conceivably be adapted into a movie/TV series and turn out well (see Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man, among other things). What’s necessary is a good story about interesting characters doing interesting things. Does that mean that an A-Force movie is a sure-fire hit? No, of course not; nothing is. But it does mean that there’s a way to make it good. That’s my goal here.

As a caveat, I know that I only partly fit the “target audience” for an all-female MCU movie: I’m not a woman, but I am a fan of superhero movies generally, and MCU movies specifically. And I Marvel Studios will want this to appeal to both of those audiences.

Ultimately, this movie comes down to a question of “Why?”

The first question every movie about a super-team needs to answer is “Why are these particular heroes coming together to form a team?” A related question that this movie needs to answer is “Why aren’t any male heroes invited?” In thinking about this, I came up with 3 reasons that superhero teams form, any of which could serve as a starting point for A-Force. For each one I will explain it, give examples, and propose a scenario in which could lead into an A-Force movie.

1. They’re all in the right place at the right time.

This is probably the most obvious reason for a team to form. A good example is the original comic book Avengers team, all of whom happen to wind up in the same place to fight the Hulk (Loki manipulated it, but still). Two MCU examples are the Defenders and Guardians of the Galaxy. In both cases, the characters end up in the same place with similar goals, so they team up to accomplish a specific task. (Side note: this is also the premise of the “A-Force” scene in Avengers: Endgame: the female heroes just all happen to be in the same place at the same time)

In an A-Force movie, this would probably be the easiest premise to answer the question of “Why.” The reason A-Force teams up is because these female heroes all happen to be in the right place at the right time to confront a threat.

Picture this scenario: Pepper Potts-Stark (don’t you think she’d hyphenate?) decides to call up a few of the Avengers for a “Ladies Night Out.” She leaves Morgan with a babysitter (let’s say it’s Squirrel Girl) and goes out to dinner with Carol Danvers, Valkyrie, Hope Van Dyne, Wanda Maximoff, and Okoye. While they’re out, some super-villain happens to attempt an assassination in the restaurant where they are eating. They stop the assassination and get pulled into a fight to take down the Kingpin and stop his small army of super-powered assassins and thugs.

Is that a great or well-thought-out scenario? Not especially, but it is somewhere to start and gives a reason why these particular heroes are teaming up.

2. Someone put the team together that way

This is probably what brings together the majority of “official super teams”: some official organization recruits specific characters for their unique skills to fulfill a specific task. The original Avengers were recruited this way by Nick Fury (who did have other options, as seen on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., though not many good ones). The “New Avengers” at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron were recruited by Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanoff, and Tony Stark in the same way.

The snag this premise runs into is on the second “Why” question: “So why did someone decide to put together a super team with just the ladies?” This can’t be answered by a lack of options; there are plenty of powerful male heroes out there to choose from. My answer to this question would be with the villain.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. played with this premise for an episode in its first season: an Asgardian super-villain named Lorelei who has power specifically over men escaped to Earth, and the S.H.I.E.L.D. team needed to work with Lady Sif to contain and restrain her. That is where I will begin this scenario.

Lorelei, who escaped during the fall of Asgard, has collected an army and brought it to invade Earth in revenge for her previous defeat.  Thanks to the dissolution of S.H.I.E.L.D., the knowledge of her power has been lost, so Fury just sends in the New-New Avengers:  Captain America (Sam Wilson), Winter Soldier, Professor Hulk, Doctor Strange, Ant-Man, and Wasp. After fighting through the alien army, the Avengers come face-to-face with Lorelei. She says, “Congratulations,” and takes control of all of them except Wasp. Lorelei orders the Avengers to kill Wasp, who realizes what happened, shrinks, and escapes back to Fury and S.W.O.R.D.

Fury sends Hill and Wasp to recruit an all-female team to fight the enslaved Avengers and stop Lorelei. Recruiting to counter each of the Avengers, they wind up with an A-Force team consisting of: Captain Marvel, Black Widow (Yelena Bolova), She-Hulk, Scarlet Witch, Wasp, and Valkyrie.  A-Force subdues the Avengers and defeats Lorelei, and Scarlet Witch breaks her hold over the male Avengers.

3. The team is just those available

This premise sounds like the most obvious, but it would take a lot of work to set it up for a team with the conceit of all being women. The Avengers teams in Avengers: Endgame (both for the Time Heist and the final “Avengers Army”) fit this mold of “Whoever’s available.”  At the beginning of the movie, the majority of the heroes have been snapped away, and those who are left must team up. At the end of the movie, everyone who can possibly come has to be there to fight because so much is at stake.

How would this work to create an all-female A-Force team? This is going to take some explaining, but I think the set-up is almost more fun than the scenario itself.

The set-up would involve a War of Kings-level cosmic storyline and span about a half-dozen different movies and Disney+ series:

  • Thor: Love and Thunder introduces the threat of a looming war between the Kree and Shi’ar Empires, with some Asgardian refugees caught in the crossfire, leading Valkyrie, both Thors, and Beta-Ray Bill to remain in that part of space to protect the Asgardians
  •  The Inhumans (a soft-reboot on Disney+) opens with the Kree discovering the existence of the Inhumans and coming to Earth to recruit their wayward genetically-engineered super-soldiers for their war against the Kree.  Black Bolt and the Royal Family fight off the Kree but lead their people to leave their new home on Earth and enter the war anyways – against the Kree.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 brings Xandar and the rebuilt Nova Corps into the conflict, as well as the Sovereign and Adam Warlock, who are incited into it by Ayesha

  • Nova (on Disney+) expands some of the lore behind this war in its first episode, suggesting that Nova Prime may have gone insane in declaring war against the Shi’ar, leading Rhomann Dey to flee a Shi’ar invasion and escape to Earth, where he gives an experimental Nova Centurion helmet to a young Richard Rider. The rest of the series focuses on him on Earth, but that’s beside the point. It ends with him going to Xandar, where he discovers the Nova Corps in shambles (again) after a Chitauri invasion.

  • The Fantastic Four begins with them getting their powers during a space experiment gone wrong, during which they get captured by the Shi’ar Empire, who seek to weaponize them in order to counter the few Inhumans captured by the Kree.  The FF escape during a Nova Corps attack and decide they can’t return to Earth without bringing an end to this war.

  • Captain Marvel: War of Kings shows that Carol has been trying to stop this war ever since the Snap, and finally reveals the truth behind this war: It was instigated and inflamed by a splinter faction of Skrulls who infiltrated the Kree and Shi’ar Empires, simmed Nova Prime and Ayesha, and suborned the shattered remains of the Chitauri civilization, all in an attempt to avenge the destruction of their planet. Carol’s big character moment is when she, Nova, and a newly-powered Photon (Monica Rambeau) are defeated trying to stand between the combined forces of the Kree, Shi’ar, Nova Corps, and Inhuman armies at the end of the movie and she realizes that she can’t do it all herself, leading her to ask the Avengers for help.

  • Avengers: War of Kings picks up where the last movie left off, with Fury and the Avengers watching Carol’s plea for help, which is suddenly cut off. Fury recognizes how big this must be and dispatches a massive team to help her, Photon, Nova, the Fantastic Four, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Valkyrie, Beta-Ray Bill, and the Thors out:
    • Captain America (Sam Wilson)
    • Winter Soldier
    • Doctor Strange
    • Scarlet Witch
    • Professor Hulk
    • Namor
    • Black Panther
    • War Machine
    • Shang-Chi
    • The Hawkeyes (Clint Barton and Kate Bishop)
    • Spider-Man and Venom (if they’re back in the MCU – if so, Venom’s symbiote race, led by Carnage, could also be involved in the war!)
    • Soren, Talos, and a team of S.W.O.R.D.-aligned Skrulls
    • The Eternals
    • Ant-Man, who sneaks on the ship inside Sam’s bag because he really wants to cross “going into space” off his bucket list (Wasp stays behind to train Cassie, who became Stature in Ant-Man and the Wasp and Stature)

  • Avengers: Peace of Kings is the finale to this series of movies, wraps up the “War of Kings” storyline, and is released after A-Force

 All of this means that when the Wrecking Crew takes advantage of the “power vacuum” on Earth between the two Avengers: War of Kings movies, all of the most powerful heroes are occupied on the far end of space, leaving Fury to call on a handful of other heroes (all of whom happen to be women) to face this new threat:

  • She-Hulk
  • Okoye
  • Shuri
  • Wasp
  • Black Widow (Yelena Bolova)
  • Stature

There you go:  6 movies and 2 Disney+ series, including the introduction of the new Fantastic Four and Nova, and a reintroduction of the Inhumans, culminating in a 2-part epic (with 40+ named heroes), all to explain why a bunch of female heroes are teaming up to fight the Wrecking Crew!  You probably noticed that this iteration of A-Force doesn’t include any of the most powerful female heroes (Captain Marvel, Valkyrie, Thor (Jane Foster), and Scarlet Witch). The reason is that I can’t envision a scenario that would draw in all the most public male heroes without also pulling in the most powerful female heroes, as well.  If they did decide to go this direction, the A-Force movie would not release until at least the tail-end of Phase 6 (around 2025), which seems really far off.  If this did happen, I think it would be pretty amazing – not just for all the wild cosmic things that are happening, but also for expanding the universe by showing the effect that cosmic events can have on events on Earth.

Personally, I think the last option (at least this particular scenario for it) would be the most interesting and fun. If it received a positive reception, future A-Force movies could see this team staying together and recruiting a few more female heroes for later missions.

Obviously there are other ways to occupy all of the male heroes and make a “these are the heroes available” scenario work. If you have your own ideas about an A-Force movie, let me know in the comments!

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