With Hollywood turning more of its attention to the world of graphic novels for inspiration, I’ll cast the spotlight on a new comic book each week that has the potential to pack a theater or keep you glued to your television screens. At the end of some “Adapt This” columns, you’ll also find thoughts from various comic creators and other industry experts about the books they’d like to see make the jump from page to screen.
This Week’s Book: The Avengers: Kree-Skrull War by Roy Thomas (w), Sal Buscema (a), Neal Adams (a), and John Buscema (a)
The Premise: The Avengers find themselves caught up in a war between two alien races that spills over to Earth, forcing the heroes to fight a war on three fronts — battling the aliens, the frightened people they’re sworn to protect, and the differences between their own values. As the team’s members try to rally and unite against their common foe, their allegiance is questioned when they attempt to protect one of their own, who just happens to be a member of one of the alien races at war.
The Pitch: With all the buzz surrounding “The Avengers” right now, it makes sense to look at some of the existing stories that could serve as the basis for future films. This early-’70s story arc is widely regarded as one of the best ever written for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, and allowed some heavy political and social issues of the time to be viewed through the lens of the Marvel Comics universe.
While the details of the story would need to be heavily reworked with regard to the team’s roster and the main characters in order to bring it more in line with Marvel’s cinematic universe, there’s no reason the fundamental themes and questions raised by “Kree-Skrull War” couldn’t make the transition with a modern-era update.
The easiest way of doing so would be to present the war as a conflict between Thor’s people and one of the other alien races revealed in the franchise so far (the Frost Giants or Chitauri, perhaps), and the rest of the pieces should fall into place. However, with an unspecified number of years and at least three movies between now and the start of filming for the “Avengers” sequel, there’s ample time to introduce a few new alien races to the mix such as the Kree or Skrulls. “The Avengers” director Joss Whedon has already proven he can pull off the alien-invasion angle, so upping the ante with two new alien races seems like a natural step.
With a film based on “Kree-Skrull War,” there’s also a nice opportunity to develop the characters of some of the chief players in the Avengers — especially Iron Man, Captain America, and Nick Fury. The story offers some nice “Civil War”-like potential in the way Iron Man and Captain America react to both the alien threat and the way the Avengers’ role in dealing with the aliens is perceived by the public.
For example, Captain America wouldn’t seem too far off-base to side with the government and take a wartime view on engaging both the aliens and each race’s respective allies here on Earth. Iron Man, on the other hand, would seem a natural fit for the opposing viewpoint, and take a skeptical view on the rights sacrificed by a frightened public and their government. And much like the comic-book arc, Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. would find themselves caught in the middle of the controversy, torn between their obligations to the government and The Avengers team they helped create.
The Closing Argument: While the post-credits scene in “The Avengers” hints at taking the next chapter in a different direction, adapting “Kree-Skrull War” offers a chance to give all of the same action and effects-driven adventure elements a backbone in serious, real-world issues. Bringing a story like this into the Avengers universe feels like a natural evolution of the over-arching Marvel movie-verse narrative, with the first chapter of “The Avengers” serving as an introduction, and the next chapter looking at how the team functions together over the long term and the way it’s perceived by the rest of the world (and in this case, the universe).