It all started with the Avengers in the Marcel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Not directly with the Avengers, but without Avengers no MCU. Of course, it all started with Iron Man 2008, a film that many people in my circle of acquaintances were unaware of, and only comic book fans were talking about it. From today’s perspective, of course, you can hardly measure what John Favreau has done with this one film. But more about that later.
I was never a Marvel fan because I never had the opportunity. The reason was simply that I knew most of the stuff only by hearsay. My childhood hero was Batman and when I read comics, it was Batman or DC stuff. There was no money for more, so I limited myself to what was important to me. Better one thing right than several things only half… or something like that… From Marvel, I really only knew Spiderman and that only through the pretty cool cartoon series. Hulk was somewhat known through the real series with Lou Ferrigno. From Thor, Iron Man, and co. I knew for a long time only pictures and knew nothing about the characters.
From what I know about the golden age of Marvel around Stan Lee’s work, many characters would have appealed to me. Lee’s approach was that completely normal people (or children!) were equipped with superhero powers by chance. That’s why the stories were always about identity, the search for one’s own place, and social issues. DC was a bit different in that regard: Bruce Wayne/Batman is a powerful billionaire with superhuman willpower, Clark Kent/Superman is an invincible alien, Diana Prince/Wonder Woman is an Amazon princess with divine abilities, Oliver Queen/Green Arrow is also a rich kid, and so on.
So I limited myself to DC and was relatively clueless when Iron Man came to the cinema. Of him and Captain America I actually knew hardly anything, not to speak of Black Widow and Hawkeye. Of course, there are some parallels between Marvel and DC characters, so you quickly get the hang of it, but still, it was an interesting experience. I also deliberately didn’t buy any comics with the first MCU films and let the films stand on their own.
The Spanish manufacturer Knight Models, today mainly known for the Batman and Harry Potter tabletop games, had a few years ago besides the DC also the Marvel license. They released a Marvel tabletop game and initially released some Avengers, Spiderman and a few X-Men. The game started off very well and had spectacularly great miniatures. Unfortunately, Knight Models were then as they are now: The game was discontinued overnight in the summer of 2017. At least there was a statement about it at the time, but for fans it came bang on. At that time, I had just bought the Avengers Starter and had to quickly see where I could get the remaining miniatures. Spiderman and his opponents were immediately found only at high prices on Ebay.
My small, modest collection consists of what I could still get. Some 3D designers have continued to create matching miniatures. Someday I might get a few of them again.
What I find charming about the Knight Models miniatures is that they are realizations of the comic book originals, not the movies. You would expect something different from me, but in this case I like it because I appreciate the classic designs.
For tabletop, by the way, the Knigth Models’ demise is no longer a big problem today: With Marvel Crisis Protocoll, there is a new game from Atomic Mass that is obviously good as a game and, moreover, once again has excellent miniatures. Meanwhile, a large number of Marvel heroes have been released. I haven’t bought any more of them, you can’t have everything. Anyone interested should definitely check these things out though.
As mentioned above, Iron Man is an insane movie event that, in retrospect, can’t be overstated. At the time, it was just a good, cool movie. At the time, it was, above all, finally a quality, un-awkward superhero movie. John Favreau as director and major creative force behind the project can’t be praised enough. It’s worth taking a look at Wikipedia to see how the film came about. I didn’t know that Quentin Tarantino was supposed to direct the film, that Stan Lee himself wrote the first draft, and that Nick Cage or Tom Cruise were in the conversation for the main roles.
The bottom line is that the film was incredibly long in the making and it was a big risk to take. If it had failed, the MCU would never have existed in its current form, that much is certain. In the end, however, everything turned out well, as we all know, and Marvel is back on top thanks to the success of the first films.
I had originally planned him as my first NMM model, but after priming him I tried to imagine how I would paint all the little details on the figure in the NMM style and I was no longer sure I wanted to try this difficult technique for the first time on such a complex miniature.
So I painted Iron Man in the usual way, but I tried a different technique for the first time: OSL. I wanted the arc reactor of the suit and the eyes to glow, so I really tried to show that on the surrounding suit. It didn’t turn out perfect, but I’m very happy with my first attempt. In general I like how Iron Man turned out and I think it was the right decision not to start with NMM.
I have to say, I never really found Captain America interesting, which was still my impression when I saw the 2011 Captain America movie. I actually liked the movie – it was a bit cheesy, but the World War II origin story had a lot of charm. What I still didn’t like as much was the Cap himself. I still couldn’t connect with him, he just wasn’t interesting to me. That changed with Wintersoldier, where Chris Evans’ character got more of a profile and started to take on the role of team leader. Now that the big, first chapter of the MCU is over and at least Steve Rogers took off the cape, I think I might miss him. He really ended up being an interesting character.
The casting of the Cap mini was fine considering the quality of KM models at the time, which generally ranged from good to really annoyingly bad. Painting Captain America was a lot of fun because he has a classic superhero costume and I was glad to finally be able to paint a mini in blue again 🙂
In fact, Thor was a completely unknown character to me before the MCU came around the corner – well, yes, I had seen the comic book character somewhere once, but I knew nothing about him. That changed with the first Thor movie in 2011, which I found entertaining but didn’t like too much. I barely remember the sequel, but I always thought Thor was best when he joined the others, which makes all the Avengers movies the better Thor movies for me – with the exception of Thor: Ragnarok. I had so much fun with it and saw it the same weekend I watched Justice League. I’m not sure if it made Thor 3 better or Justice League worse, but Taika Waititi really did a great job with this film. Come to think of it, Ragnarok is also a film that is carried by multiple actors and doesn’t focus too much on Thor. That’s probably part of the recipe for success again.
The fourth member of the Avengers pack is Black Widow. Like Thor, I didn’t know Natasha Romanow before the movies were made. In fact, I think Black Widow was completely unknown to me, while I had at least heard of Thor before. I did like what Scarlett Johanson was doing in the movies, though, and it was nice to see her getting more of a presence and the character gaining depth through the Avengers movies, though I think it was always good when the character was just a supporting role. I don’t really need the stand-alone movie that’s coming now, but I’m happy for all the fans out there who have always wanted one.
I’m happy with the result of the miniature, as I especially like the highlights on the black. It worked out the way I wanted it to for the first time. I struggled a bit with the hair color, but even that turned out well in the end.