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This particular photo-meme caught my eye the other day. It caused in me two almost simultaneous responses:

1) OMG someone should so make that film!!! Or at least make a fake trailer for it on You Tube by splicing together lots of bits of different shows in a way that makes it look as if they are all in the same plot!!!

2) There were no women in the group they had put together…

Before I discuss 2, let me just say that I really, really, REALLY want someone to make that trailer. Because I am sad like that. Such things really do amuse me. I went squee when I found this video done in celebration of Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary. So if someone with the right skills could put together a video like that for the Avengers; United Kingdom I would be really pleased.*

Number 2… I was surprised at how much it concerned me. The fact that the purported fictional TV show was very Y chromosome heavy did make me wonder about the role of women in UK geek culture.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There are strong women in UK Geekdom. What concerned me was the fact that all the examples I could think of off the top of my head were supporting characters and many of them were already involved in the franchises represented by characters in that line up. Hermione Granger, various Doctor Who companions (Sarah Jane Smith and River Song being the two that spring most readily to mind), Judi Dench’s portrayal of M in James Bond… the UK just did not seem to have a straight up Geek lead character who was female (unlike the US where there are a few, though many of them are Whedon creations like Buffy). I was so concerned I expressed my opinion on Facebook and did get a couple of suggestions for strong female characters who were not involved in the franchises already mentioned (Emma Peel being one who I had somehow forgotten…) or who were sole leads (Lara Croft) but it does seem as if UK geekdom is a little thin on the ground. Plus, my concerns were not so much with the state of the feminist credentials of UK geekdom but rather with my own inability to think of some. I mean, I can be excused not thinking of Lara Croft because I have never played the game** nor watched the films but I used to watch the Avengers (the UK TV drama) all the time as a child*** so Emma Peel should have leapt out at me…

Maybe I am overthinking this, of course. It was, after all, just a fun bit of photo-manipulation that someone did. However, I think the discussion on facebook did come up with the following concept…

 – Ditch Harry Potter and replace him with Hermione. Her competence far exceeds his and it means we can have a couple of love scenes with Ron, who can also get jealous when Bond makes a move on her somewhere in the middle of the film (she’ll rebuff him, cos she’s not an idiot, though there may be some flirting, but Ron doesn’t know that…)

 – Chuck in Emma Peel in the Black Widow role. She fits the stereotype of that part perfectly, albeit with more English poise…

“I recognise the council has made a decision, but given that it’s a stupid-ass decision, I’ve elected to ignore it.”
Come on, you can so see her delivering that line as well as Samuel L Jackson did 🙂

– The team needs a Nick Fury. Someone to be all tough and shouty and manly and sarcastic at all the team members when they mess up. Which UK character suits this role best? Why, only Judi Dench’s M has the sheer brass balls to step into Samuel L Jackson’s shoes.

 – There has to be a role in this for Rupert Giles. Ok, technically Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a US show but Giles is so very British and there are few things that cannot be improved by the addition of Anthony Head. He could be the team’s librarian and be having an understated and typically British affair with M.

 – An enemy. In Avengers Assemble (or The Avengers as we still call it in the UK despite the rename…) that enemy was Loki who is devious and entertaining and malicious. There is really only one enemy that fits this mould in UK geekdom to my mind – The Master.

Of course there were other more outre suggestions for this film. Someone suggested that, since The Doctor is involved, in theory no time period is restricted. This means that we could have some other rather cool UK TV characters turning up. He suggested Richard Sharpe but we could also have Cadfael, the medieval mystery solving monk, Miss Marple and several others. Plus it might explain why Gene Hunt is there in 2012 (almost 30 years after the events of Ashes to Ashes and possibly in an alternate universe created by the minds of Sam Tyler and Alex Drake) and why Emma Peel is there (being, as she is, a character intrinsicly tied to the 1960s). In fact, in my head, this plot involves a centuries spanning plot spotted in several different time periods by different characters…

Hmmm, maybe I am overthinking this. Time to stop for now, I think. Before I start writing fan fic (and I have enough trouble finding time to write the characters I have created never mind taking on someone else’s intellectual property…)

What this does reveal is the appeal of crossover universes. Even though such things are ludicrous in concept and are likely to be done badly in fan fic and similar, they can be the cause of squee. They can also be done rather well in the right circumstances, as evidenced by the Wold Newton family created by Philip José Farmer  which ties many ficitonal characters (including Sherlock Holmes and James Bond) together into one family tree (making them all descendents of a group of people exposed to a radioactive meteorite near the North Yorkshire village of Wold Newton). There is also Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen**** which has a similar concept. In fact, in the 1969 version of this series there is a very cool cameo by a certain Mr Tom Marvolo Riddle.

So, for discussion purposes, feel free to comment to add ideas for UK genre characters you would add to our Avengers team or for plot ideas for things that the team can face. Also comment if you have any other ideas for crossovers or actual crossovers that you have seen (whether they are well done or not).

*And if you could persuade Steve Moffat to actually make it, even better… having first made sure you have sacrificed to the gods of litigation to prevent various companies suiing him for Copyright… And if Moffat does want the gig and can sort out the copyright for the franchises he doesn’t own in that selection I have some plot ideas for him… 🙂

** No, really. I have never played Tomb Raider. I don’t tend to play computer games much. It’s ok, though. I checked. I don’t need to hand in my Geek card unless I also stop roleplaying and reading, watching and writing science fiction and fantasy.

*** And this had nothing to do with Emma Peel, leather catsuits and particular hormonal imbalances that occur around the age of 11. Absolutely nothing at all. I only ever watched it for the articles.

**** The graphic novel version not the film which was sort of OK (for, as Obi Wan Kenobi would say, a given value of OK which some may translate as ‘awful’) but had nothing on the graphic novel in terms of Victorian sleaze, drugs and nastiness and made Alan Quartermain not a drug addict and Mina Harker a vampire instead of the traumatised victim of a Vampire.