A Hellmouth in the Sky
by: Leloy Claudio
Who is the Buffy of the Avengers? There’s no easy answer to this one because the film does not have a single lead character. When the Avengers converge beneath Stark Tower and Captain America dictates the plan of attack (“Call it Captain,” Iron Man defers), he plays the quarterback role that Buffy assumed in the latter seasons. Both Thor and Willow are able to harness supernatural forces, and are able to fly, but it’s the tacticians with level heads who take the lead. Like Buffy, moreover, Captain America’s superpowers are completely physical.
Then there’s the Black Widow. When we first see Natasha Romanov, she is about to be tortured. But it is quickly revealed that Romanov is playing mind games, feigning helplessness to extract more information from her male torturers. Ostensibly helpless women can actually kick ass – this is the premise of the entire Buffy series. Remember that Buffy, before becoming the slayer, was a ditzy teenage cheerleader. The genius of the show was that it made a Clueless character the savior of the world.
But I submit that the real Buffy is Iron Man. Tony Stark and Buffy Summers both begin as self-centered character clichés: Buffy, as mentioned, is the high school cheerleader, while Stark is the narcissistic playboy billionaire. Both are selfish, and both are reluctant to save the world. In season one, Buffy does her best to avoid Giles, knowing that consorting with the watcher means confronting her sacred duty. Iron Man, as Captain America reminds him, has hitherto done everything for himself. The reason why Steve Rogers can’t be Buffy Summers is that the former has always been single-minded about his duties as a hero. He is, as the movie reminds us, too “old fashioned.” The true rebel-hero, and therefore heir to Buffy, is Stark.
When does the reluctant hero realize his/her calling? When the “big bad” decides to open a “Hellmouth” and unleash the forces of darkness, of course. In season one of Buffy, the Master attempts to open the Hellmouth, and uses the armies of the netherworld to conquer the world. Loki does the same, except his Hellmouth is in the sky. Both Loki and the Master are quasi-religious characters, who, for all their pedantic pontificating, simply want to take over the world. Although Loki is possibly the more complex character because he justifies his bid for power through the philosophy of a fascist demagogue: he will free the human race from freedom (no wonder the anti-fascist Captain America interrupts his proselytizing in Germany).
To stop the Master, Buffy must confront him, but, according to prophecy, the Master will kill the slayer. To stop Chitauri, Iron Man has to hurl a nuclear missile into Loki’s portal, but, as Jarvis tells him, the trip is one-way.
The Master kills Buffy, but Xander revives her. After Iron Man sends the nuke to the mother ship of the Chitauri, his thrusters lose power and he falls back to the earth. When he hits the ground, the light in his chest is no longer glowing. The Hulk growls, and this revives Stark. After dying and saving the world, Buffy decides to go to a party. As for Stark, he proposes to take his comrades out for Shawarma.