Whedon’s Avengers – A Love Story?

Yesterday, Marvel Entertainment released a brand new trailer for the upcoming Avengers film helmed by Joss Whedon. This trailer, the third they’ve released, ups the action again, giving us perhaps our best look to date at just what this film will be about. Now, it’s not a big secret that I’m a dyed-in-the-wool DC Comics fanboy and I’m often very critical of Joss Whedon. But let’s talk for a bit about how this trailer is winning me over on both fronts. Watch it after the jump…

I’m prone to doing some big break-downs, and this trailer is no doubt worthy of such a treatment. That said, I have refrained from doing one myself because no doubt a few dozen sites have already done that by now. But I do want to talk a little bit about what has me most intrigued about the upcoming Avengers movie. As it turns out, it all revolves around the Hulk, but has nothing to do with smashing. Who knew?

While watching the trailer, something behind all of the action fired a few long-dead synapses in the back of my brain. Two shots combined to make me wonder if there wasn’t a budding love story between Natasha “Black Widow” Romanoff and Bruce “Hulk” Banner. Here’s what happened…

Early in the trailer, we see Romanoff recruiting Bruce Banner with a decidedly soft approach. It’s a brief shot, and the scene seems likely to be their first meeting. It’s entirely possible that Romanoff is simply pouring on the “nice” for no other reason than  to persuade Banner to join Fury’s Merry Band of Men. After all, she did it to Tony Stark in Iron Man 2 despite not seeming to actually like him very much. But there’s something in her tone that suggests to me that she is perhaps interested in Banner on a personal level. Something in the shot above says to me that she’s intrigued… in fact excited to meet him.

The other shot involved in this little bit of theory-crafting is the one below. In its brief few seconds, we see Black Widow running through some sort of corridor with the Hulk hot on her heels, breaking metal and glass all around her as they go. It’s possible that he is, for one reason or another, chasing her in some fit of rage. He is a giant green rage-monster, after all.

However, something about this scene took me all the way back to when I was reading Ultimate Avengers Vol. 1 years ago. In it, there was a little time spent around Banner and his feelings for Betty Ross, ultimately culminating in the Hulk becoming a raging expression of Banner’s jealousy that Ross was on a date with another man. I may be remembering it slightly off, but hopefully you’ll let my paraphrasing slide. Anyway, the shot above really had me in this mindset that the Hulk is protecting Black Widow from something even more frightening approaching from behind them. It suggested to me that this behemoth monster is using his own body as a big green shield to protect Romanoff’s decidedly more fragile body from harm. There’s something very intriguing to me about arguably the team’s most indestructible member having a budding love affair with their most physically vulnerable.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m grasping at straws here, as one is prone to do on the internet. It’s just as likely, if not more likely, that the shot of Black Widow and Hawkeye together hints at a romantic relationship between those two characters.  But for my money, that wouldn’t be nearly as interesting on it’s own merits.

I’ve always been openly – but I think fairly – critical of Whedon’s work. I think that he’s capable of some really good storytelling, but he has also been behind some efforts that I truly disliked. Whedon is obviously no stranger to ill-fated love stories between monstrous people and bona fide monsters. If he has managed to weave a worthwhile Beauty-and-the-Beast sub-plot underneath the film’s inevitable sensory assault of widescale destruction, I’m going to be a very happy movie-goer on May 4th. I’m really starting to change my cautiously optimistic tone about Avengers. More and more, I’m finding myself saying “Make Mine Marvel.”

UPDATE: I was totally wrong. And that makes me sad.

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