Marvel Studios Countdown is a biweekly column focusing on all things related to Marvel Studios and its movies, past, present and future.
What do you get for the Avengers fan who has everything? Don’t fret because, firstly, I can guarantee they don’t have everything, and secondly, you’ve got a lot of options. A trip to any “big box” retailer will reveal that there’s Avengers merch in every aisle and on every end cap. Sure, they may already own the Blu-ray (and play it on constant loop), but what can you do to show that you care and that you’d really like them to turn the movie off for a second or two?
We’re help to help. Below is a list of Avengers-related goodies that may not be on your radar, or the radar of the special someone you’re buying gifts for. Outside of the typical action figures and pajamas pants, we’re confident that we’ve come up with a list of goods that will bring a smile to even the most hardcore Marvel fanatic.
Avengers vs. X-Men hardcover collection - The big Avengers event from 2012 was Avengers vs. X-Men, which saw the two popular teams of heroes pitted against each other in a battle for the mysterious Phoenix force. This hefty 568-page volume collects the entire miniseries, as well as some of the tie-in comics that feed into the overall story, the consequences of which are still being felt in the Marvel Universe today. It’s also a lot of Marvel bang for your buck, as pretty much every major Marvel character gets in on the action in some way, making it perfect for someone who knows the characters well, but doesn’t necessarily pick up the monthly books.
Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, by Sean Howe - This is not Avengers-specific, but it’s literally a treasure trove of behind-the-scenes stories from Marvel’s lengthy history. There’s stuff in here that will enlighten casual fans and hard-core geeks, and provide a greater appreciation of the story of how a plucky, underdog comic company became a multimedia empire. It’s a well-researched, entertaining read.
Avengers Battle the Earth-Wrecker, a novel by Otto Binder - Let’s say your Avengers fan stays on top of every monthly comic, every video game, and every set of pajama pants bearing the giant “A.” What then? You might have to go a little obscure. In 1967, Bantam published the first Avengers novel, and though it’s long out of print, you can still find a copy pretty easily on Amazon or eBay. It’s the kind of item they most likely won’t have sitting around in their collection, and it’s esoteric enough to make them think you really cared, if you dug that deep to seek it out. I will tell anyone that I tipped you off.
Avengers: Battle for Earth, available on X-Box 360 and Wii-U - Taking advantage of the motion-controlled aspects of the Kinect and the Wii, this new fighting game pits superheroes against each other in a loose retelling of Marvel’s best-selling Civil War storyline. Its active, repetitive gameplay makes it perfect for slightly younger gamers, who are too old to play dress-up but young enough to still want to pretend to be Thor.
Captain America and the Avengers - If you’ve got a few hundred dollars to spend, you could make someone really happy with a vintage 1991 Captain America and the Avengers arcade cabinet. The gameplay is an old-school four-player beat 'em up, with Cap, Iron Man, Hawkeye and Vision as selectable characters. You can find the cabinets relatively cheap (compared to other video games from this time period) on eBay or through gameroom dealers. If you want the game, but don’t have the money or the space for a cabinet, you could always snag a used Sega Genesis or SNES and grab the game for those classic consoles.
TOYS AND GAMES
Lego Marvel Super Heroes - There are a few different sets of Lego Marvel, but the big dog is the Lego Hulk Helicarrier Breakout. This set recreates Loki’s glass prison from the movie and comes with a S.H.I.E.L.D. jet and four character figures - Loki, Thor, Hawkeye and the Hulk (who stands twice as tall as most Lego figures). Smaller, but no less cool, are the buildable Lego 7” articulated action figures. There’s a kit for Hulk, Captain America and Iron Man, perfect for waging battle on the top of a computer desk or entertainment center.
My Marvel Monopoly - This unique Monopoly set is a little pricier than most because you can customize it to suit your Marvel superheroes taste. If you want an Avengers board, you can have that, or you could create an all Marvel villains board. There are over 100 interchangeable characters that can be used as properties on the traditional Monopoly board, and its designed so that the board can be customized over and over again.
Marvel Superheroes Thumb Wrestlers - 1, 2, 3, 4, let’s have a thumb war! This is total “stocking stuffer” territory, but if you’re looking for something outside of the typical action figures, you could do a lot worse than a complete set of little superhero masks that thumbs can wear. It’s not Avengers-exclusive, but Cap, Hulk and Iron Man are in there (as well as Spider-Man, Wolverine, Venom, Dr. Doom and the Juggernaut).
Agent Coulson’s Captain America Prop Replica Trading Cards - These are a pair of perfectly re-created Captain America cards from the pivotal scene in the film where Nick Fury convinces Cap of the importance of the Avengers as a cohesive fighting unit. The 22-card set is printed with the exact same art that Marvel used to make the prop cards, and some are even stained with Coulson’s blood, to add authenticity. And if that wasn’t enough, there’s a certificate of authenticity and a display booklet as well, to make this pretty remarkable movie collectible.
Agent Coulson Tees - WeLoveFine.com offers a crazy selection of T-shirts featuring pretty much any Marvel character you could think of, but most surprisingly, they have a whole selection of shirts dedicated to Agent Phil Coulson. Anybody can wear an Iron Man tee; it takes a certain amount of dedication to wear one featuring the likeness of Clark Gregg.
Thor Cookies - Maybe Oreos just aren’t majestic enough. I can’t vouch for the tastiness of these shortbreads, each topped with an edible picture of the God of Thunder, but there’s no stranger gift you could give your Avengers fan. But maybe you want to make your own? Read on...
Williams-Sonoma Marvel Flexible Spatulas - It’s one thing to have Marvel cookie cutters - that seems fun, crafting little cookies in the shape of superhero heads - but it’s another level of fandom entirely to make those cookies using Williams-Sonoma’s Marvel flexible spatulas. Look, I’ve been a Marvel fan for over 30 years and even I’m not hard-core enough to make an omelette using Captain America’s face. If your Marvel fan already has Avengers spatulas, then I can’t help you at all. Good luck and happy holidays.
John Gholson is a lifelong comic book fanboy who has previously covered all manner of superhero news at AOL. After dabbling with comic book self-publishing in the '90s, John moved on to study sequential art at the Savannah College of Art & Design, and currently produces a regular Web comic, ‘Appetite for Destruction,’ for Tapsauce.com. You can read his Marvel Studios Countdown here at Movies.com every other week.