Five Authors Who Didn't Write The Avengers
1. Thor, by AA Milne: In which Thor is unbounced
One day Rabbit, Piglet and Pooh were sitting outside Pooh's door listening to Rabbit. "What we need," said Rabbit, "is a Conference."
"I think a Conference tastes like strawberries," whispered Pooh to Piglet, "but I am not sure."
"A Conference," said Rabbit sternly, "means that I talk about Something Important and decide that Something Must Be Done About It and then we do it."
"Do what?" said Pooh.
"Unbounce Thor," said Rabbit, "because you must agree that Thor is very full of bounces. Thor is One Of The More Boisterous Animals and he needs to have less boister. What we need," he declared, "is a Plan."
"I had a Plan once," Pooh said sadly, "but Thor sat on it."
"Which Goes To Prove My Point," said Rabbit. "We need to come up with a Plan and this is what it is. First, we will tell Thor that a Horrible Heffalump is At Large."
Piglet held Pooh's arm in case Pooh was frightened.
"And then," said Rabbit, but suddenly Thor came bounding up to them.
"Greetings, tiny animal companions!" Thor boistered. "What a fine morn this is!"
Pooh helped Piglet up. "He boistered me!" Piglet whispered. "He boistered me right off my feet!"
"I come bearing gifts!" Thor declared. "Winnie, who is the Pooh, I have observed your fondness for honey, and so I have brought you mead, the honey drink of heroes!"
Pooh took the jug and peered inside. "It looks like honey," he said. "It smells like honey." He stuck his paw inside and licked it clean. "It tastes like honey." He thought it was almost eleven o'clock, Time For A Little Something. He drank the whole jug until there was nothing left then tipped it up and shook out all the nothing until his nose was sticky all over.
"Ahem!" said Rabbit, clearing his throat in a Meaningful Manner.
"Do you suffer from a cough, little Rabbit?" Thor asked. "Mead is most soothing."
"There's a Heffalump!" Piglet squeaked. "A Large Heffalump is at Horrible! We need…" Then Piglet remembered that he didn't know what they needed. "Help!" he whispered.
"Then help you shall have, Small Piglet," said Thor. "What manner of a beast is this Large Heffalump and where does it reside? I will slay it for you. Or," he added, as if struck by a Sudden Thought, "if it is not evil, but merely acting upon its natural instincts, I will capture it and return it to the wild, as Lady Jane taught me after the incident with the chipmunks."
"Dandelion," said Pooh.
"Yes," said Rabbit, as he winked at Piglet. "Please help us, Thor. Please track down the Heffalump."
Thor held out his hand and his hammer came flying through the air and smacked right into it. "I go!" he declared, and he went.
"Cutterbup," said Pooh. "Or is it buttercup?"
"Is the Heffalump going to eat Thor?" said Piglet, when Rabbit had picked him up again. "I don't like to think of Thor being eaten for very long, because although he is One Of The More Boisterous Animals he is Good At Heart."
"There Is No Heffalump!" said Rabbit, who was looking very proud of himself. "Thor will look for the Heffalump for days and days and days, and by then he will be a Tired Thor, a Disappointed Thor, a Frustrated Thor, an Oh-Rabbit-I-Couldn't-Find-The-Heffalump-Anywhere Thor, and all the bounces and boister will have fallen right out of him."
Pooh was holding up his paws and trying to count them. "I think," he said slowly, "that I might have grown another paw when I wasn't looking. That's the thing about paws. They sneak up on you sometimes. Like Woozles." He moved closer to Piglet. "Piglet," he said, "you're my best friend. And Rabbit. You're all my best friends."
"Are you sure you're feeling well, Pooh?" asked Piglet.
"I don't know," Pooh said thoughtfully. "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and I think my Brain has turned to fluff. I think it's Time For A Little Something. Is there any more mead?"
At that moment Eeyore came shambling up. "I wish to Make a Complaint," said Eeyore. "There I was, minding my own business, eating thistles all by myself while Certain People enjoyed a party here without me."
"A party!" said Pooh. "Will there be mead?"
"I wasn't invited," said Eeyore sadly. "So there I was, when suddenly a large hammer came whizzing by and squashed all my thistles quite flat."
"That was Thor," said Rabbit proudly. "We are in the Process of Unbouncing him."
Just then there was a loud crashing and roaring and rumbling of thunder. Piglet squeaked and held Pooh's hand. Owl came flying up to them, hooting furiously. "Something Outrageous Has Occurred," he said. "My Wolery has been struck by lightning."
"That was Thor," Pooh explained. "We are in the Recess of Unbonding him." He started to sing a song, and it went like this:
It's hard to ignore
The thing about Thor,
He's boisterous (very)
And loud, strong and merry
He weighs lots of ounces
But more with his bounces,
And we're all agreed
That we need some more mead.
At that moment Thor came back, and he brought with him a Heffalump and a Woozle and a Jagular and several of Rabbit's friends-and-relations and Christopher Robin, all tied up in chains. "I have found the Heffalump!" he declared. "Our struggle was long and fierce and many trees fell while we fought, but I prevailed. While searching for him, I found a Woozle and I have chained him and brought him here so that justice can be wreaked upon him."
Pooh found it easier to lie down in the long grass. "More mead?" he mumbled. He felt quite funny.
"I also had cause to look closely upon the one who calls himself Christopher Robin," said Thor, "and I saw that he is my brother Loki, who has assumed the appearance of a boy in order to enslave you all to his will and bask in your obedience and adoration. I have freed you, my tiny furry and feathered companions, and Piglet. Go forth and enjoy the Forest in peace and freedom."
"I believe," said Eeyore pointedly, "that a Certain Person has knocked the Forest down."
Thor looked a little bashful. "Well, go… forth," he said.
"Freedom?" said Piglet. "I'm scared."
"Does fourth come after threeth?" Pooh said. "I want mere mode. Moor made. I like Thor. Thor's my best friend."
2. Iron Man, by Jane Austen
When Mr Bingley entered the assembly, it was in a party of just two, consisting of himself and another man. Mr Bingley was good-looking and gentlemanlike; he had a pleasant countenance, and easy, unaffected manners; but his friend drew attention by his strong, confident demeanour and the report which was in general circulation within five minutes of his entrance, of him having ten thousand a year.
"I do not believe that I caught his name," said Mrs Bennett to Lady Lucas in a whisper that was not as quiet as she evidentally thought it to be. "Mr Darcy? Mr Dark? I believe that my Lizzie would do very well as Mrs Dark with ten thousand a year."
"Stark," said the man in question. "And ten thousand whats? Women? Don't believe everything you read in the papers. Unless you're offering, in which case, no offense, but… Or ten thousand drinks? That's a gross exaggeration - calumny; is that why you people call it? You have offended me, sirrah; pistols at dawn? Any chance of any of you flunkies in pantaloons actually bringing me a drink? Martini. Scotch. Whatever. No, don't hand it to me; put it there."
Mrs Bennett fanned herself and declared herself all of a flutter.
"Ten thousand dollars?" said Mr Stark. "In which case you're not even in the right ball park. Ten billion is closer to the mark."
"Billion?" said Mrs Bennet. "Whatever can that be? Oh, I do believe you mean bullion."
"Billion," said Mr Stark. "A thousand thousand thousand… How many thousands; I can never remember? Empty glass?"
By this speech, Mr Stark managed to do what Mr Bennet had never been able to do, and reduced Mrs Bennet to silence.
"Tony Stark?" Mr Stark prompted. "Come on, you must have heard of me. Billionaire? Playboy? Ph--"
"I am most partial to plays," said Lady Lucas brightly. "I once saw Mr Kemble and Mrs Siddons in Macbeth. I will never forget it as long as I live."
"Wrong sort of play," said Mr Stark. Another drink was brought to him and he drained it in one go and took up another. "A playboy," he said, leaning close to Mrs Bennet, "is what you folks would call a libertine. A rake. Where's this daughter of yours, this Lizzie?"
Mrs Bennet called for water and declared that she felt a swoon coming on.
"It's like a mortuary in here," said Mr Stark. "Are we partying here, or what?" he shouted to the assembly company.
"Is not the music quite delightful?" said Mr Bingley, coming to his friend's side. "The company is most enchanting and I have never seen such a--"
"Boring party," said Mr Stark. "Look at them! Dipping and curtseying and simpering - 'lovely weather we're having, aren't we?' and 'Isn't the company delightful?' and occasionally if you're lucky getting to touch a woman's fingertips, but only if you've been introduced properly, and if you accidentally do more, suddenly the whole world thinks you're engaged and if you don't, like, go through with it, suddenly she's ruined - and seriously what sort of distrustful society is this? - and you're a… scoundrel, and, yes, probably I am a scoundrel or a… cad, but not…"
Mr Bingley tugged his sleeve and tried to encourage him to stop talking.
"I danced a waltz in London once," said Miss King hopefully, before her mother hushed her.
Mr Stark poured himself another large drink, then strode over to the musicians. "A thousand dollars," said he, "and you're mine. Or pounds, if that's what you use round here. Play something faster, something with a heavy bass. Now let's get this party fucking started!"
A thud was heard quite clearly across the assembly rooms. It was soon followed by another and the another as one by one the ladies fainted.
"I must protest, sir!" said Mr King. "Name your second."
"Second?" said Mr Stark. "Second what?"
Mr Bingley whispered something in his friend's ear.
"Oh!" said Mr Stark, as he waved his drink around. "A duel? Pistols at dawn, high noon on the highway, all that crap."
"Name your weapon, sir," said Mr King.
"Oh. If I must." Mr Stark's demeanour did not convey any consternation. Several more ladies fainted, Mrs Bennet amongst them. "Stark Manufactory's High Velocity Breech-loading Rocket Launcher," he said, "but be careful; it can take out the whole building."
Mr King was observed by the few who remained standing to have his mouth wide open. He shut it with an audible snap. "I was going to suggest pistols," he said.
"Is that is what young men are like today," said Mrs Bennet the following morning, "then I do not want any of you girls marrying them."
Lydia sighed. "It's such a shame about Netherfield Hall," she said. "It was such a lovely place. Can I run off with a playboy, Mamma? It sounds fucking awesome."
3. Captain America, by William Shakespeare
MACBETH: Is this a dagger that I see before me,
The handle towards my hand?
CAPTAIN AMERICA: I don't think so, sir.
MACBETH: Who speaks? Who's there?
CAPTAIN AMERICA: Captain America.
MACBETH: Art thou real, or art thou but a shade,
A phantom or a voice upon the wind?
I think it so, for I am full of fears,
And echoes of the witches' prophecies.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: Sometimes it doesn't seem real to me, either, but I'm definitely here, in the flesh, alive.
MACBETH: Then thou art a spy
CAPTAIN AMERICA: No, a soldier. Or I was. I don't know what I am now.
MACBETH: A spy thou art, and thus mine enemy,
Invader of my castle and my home,
Who hides in corners, and from there to steal
My whispered words meant only for the air.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: It is true I have overheard things, but I believe I'm justified. After all, you have been plotting murder.
MACBETH: What lie is this?
CAPTAIN AMERICA: I'm sorry, sir, but I heard you quite clearly. When plotting a murder, you probably shouldn't indulge in so many soliloquies.
MACBETH: Soliloquies are sacred as the grave.
None can hear them, neither friend nor foe.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: Unfortunately, sir, I heard it all. I must apprehend you--
MACBETH: Show thyself! Stand and fight!
CAPTAIN AMERICA: Are you sure? Is this worth fighting for?
MACBETH: What is this I feel? Remorse and horror
Do so crowd my breast and make me weep.
Let fall my sword, and let my dagger melt
And change itself into a blade of grass!
I had no wish to murder my dear lord,
Until the sisters three--
CAPTAIN AMERICA: So, witches made you do it.
MACBETH: And then my wife so flattered my ambition,
And goaded me to be a proper man--
CAPTAIN AMERICA: A proper man does not resort to murder. You were seriously considering it. I cannot let you go free.
Enter LADY MACBETH
LADY MACBETH: Is it done?
MACBETH: The thing is done and come to its surcease
LADY MACBETH: He is dead, then?
CAPTAIN AMERICA: No, ma'am, the king isn't dead.
LADY MACBETH: Who art thou to stand within my house
And speak of murder and the death of kings?
CAPTAIN AMERICA: I didn't mention murder, ma'am. You did.
LADY MACBETH: I see thee now, thou viper at my breast.
Thou art a jester and a motleyed fool,
With stars upon thy doublet and thy shield,
And eagle's wings upon thy spangled head.
My husband has the stomach of a girl,
But I do not. Here is my dagger! Stand!
CAPTAIN AMERICA: I have no desire to hurt a lady, but…
They fight, and LADY MACBETH falls
Alarums. Enter BANQUO, MALCOLM and DONALBAIN
BANQUO: What noise is this? Oh villainy most foul!
Unhand the lady!
CAPTAIN AMERICA: This lady was plotting to murder your king. She's unharmed, I assure you.
MALCOLM: What? Murder most foul?
CAPTAIN AMERICA: Yes, sir.
MALCOLM: Whose man art thou, and where dost thou reside?
If this is true, wilt thou rewarded be.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: Captain America, sir. I don't need a reward.
DONALBAIN: [aside to MALCOLM] Seest thou the wings upon this head?
His shield is of no substance known to man.
No earthly man is this, of mortal flesh,
But a blessed angel sent from God above.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: Have you ever considered replacing your hereditary monarchy with represensative democracy?
MALCOLM: Thy words, o angel, shall be our command
Democracy will reign throughout our land.
Exit CAPTAIN AMERICA
DONALBAIN: [aside to MALCOLM]: Who is Democracy?
MALCOLM: [aside to DONALBAIN]: I know not. Messengers, ho!
4. Hulk, by Sir Thomas Malory
There was seen in the churchyard a great stone four square, and in midst thereof was an anvil a foot on high, and therein stuck a fair sword naked by the point, and letters there were written in gold about the sword that said thus:—Whoso pulleth out this sword of this stone and anvil, is rightwise king born of all England. And then there was made a cry that every man should assay that would, for to win the sword. And upon New Year's Day the barons rode upon the field, some to joust and some to tourney, and with them came Sir Ector, and Sir Kay his son, and young Arthur who was his foster brother.
And so it came to pass that Arthur did draw nigh upon the sword and did lay his hand upon the hilt, but then there came a mighty roar and a great beast hied thither, wondrous large and green. Then Arthur did cry as one amazed and fell to the earth, while the beast did tear up the anvil and smash the stone into dust and take up the sword and with a roar did hie him thence.
When Merlin saw that the sword was no longer in the stone, he spoke unto the barons. "Lo," said Merlin, "behold Arthur your rightwise king." "No," said Arthur, "it was not I who drew the sword but a great beast." And Merlin looked as one wroth, and said, "Where is this beast now?" but Arthur knew not.
Then were all the barons so assembled sent out and charged upon a quest, that they would find this great beast and bring him unto Merlin. They found him not, but Sir Kay did find a strange man who lay naked, and in his hand was the sword that was in the stone. "Whence came you by this sword?" said Sir Kay, but the strange man did look like one in a dream and said that he knew not. "The other guy must have taken it," said he. "He does seem to like shiny things."
So Sir Kay did take the strange man up onto his horse and did clothe his nakedness in rough raiment and did ride with him back to Merlin. "Whence came you by this sword?" said Merlin, but the man answered him as he had answered Sir Kay, and said that he knew not. "I can, er, put it back," he said, "except that the stone is a bit… smashed. The other guy does like smashing. I'm sorry."
Merlin was passing wroth beyond all measure and did stamp his foot upon the ground. "Give the sword to Arthur because Arthur is the rightwise king," he said, but the barons did complain and say that Arthur was but a beardless youth who had no more drawn the sword than they had, and they would never bow to such a one as king. "It is true," said Arthur. "I did not draw the sword. The beast drew the sword." "Yes," said the naked man, "it's probably true. I'm sorry. I guess I should take responsibility for the Hulk's actions. I'll pay damages?"
And then the barons did see that the naked man was under an enchantment and bound to turn into a fearsome beast, and that the naked man was indeed their rightwise king. And Merlin did wail and cry aloud that twenty years of planning had gone entirely down the drain, and what on earth was he supposed to do now, because this Hulk creature would doubtless end up smashing the Holy Grail and crushing Sir Lancelot, and then they'd all be sorry, wouldn't they?
But while Merlin raged, the barons and the commons did acclaim their new king. "What is your name?" said the barons, and the naked man did make reply that he was called Bruce. "Er," he said, "am I right in understanding that you want to make me king just because Hulk smashed up some lump of stone? This is new."
But the barons did acclaim him and at Pentecost was the coronation made. No man alive saw Merlin after that day, but the common folk at times made tell of an old man who muttered in the forest of shattered plans. Of the fate of Arthur the French Book maketh no mention.
5. The Avengers, by JRR Tolkien
As last with an effort Frodo spoke, and wondered to hear his own words, as if some other will was using his small voice.
"I will take the Ring," he said, "though I do not know the way."
At this a stranger stood up, throwing back his hood. Frodo had thought him to be one of Elrond's household, but now he saw that he was a man, with dark hair and piercing eyes.
"Well done," said the stranger, clapping his hands. "Very brave. Bring out the dancing girls, let's have a parade. But also, as it happens, entirely unnecessary."
"What manner of creature are you?" said Elrond. "For you do not have the feel of the enemy about you, but neither do you feel fair."
"I think I should be offended. Should I be offended?" said the stranger. "Whoa! Put your weapons down. I come in peace, all that shit."
"Who are you who dares intrude upon the Council of Elrond?" said Aragorn.
"Patience, your Majesty, I was going to tell you," said the stranger. "Oh, I wasn't supposed to know about the whole king thing? You people should keep your records more secure; ridiculously easy to hack into, if you've got the skill, which I… have. And what's the deal with you, anyway? Rightful king of just about everywhere, and you go round all grim and sweaty in rags while waving around a broken sword. Here, have my card. I'll get you some better weapons, though I'm not in the weapons business any more as such, but I've got some prototypes I'm working on, and I'll put you in touch with my tailor, you've probably heard of him, or maybe… not, given the whole medieval thing you've got going on here."
Aragorn drew his sword and laid it upon the table. "You know not of what you speak," he said.
"Well, here's the thing, actually I do," said the stranger, "because billionaire, playboy, philanthopist and all the rest, it's not that different from being a king. I can give you advice on image management, how to handle the press... And parties. Tell me that you're at least getting invited to parties. Sex, drugs, rock and roll. Tell me you're getting the sex. What's the point of being a lost heir if it doesn't get you laid?"
Aragorn strode from the chamber and all who saw him shied from the expression on his face.
"Anyway," said the stranger, "as I was saying before Mr Repressed's interruption, there's no need for Frodo to take the Ring to Mordor."
"You dare speak aloud the name of that dread place in the House of Elrond?" said Gandalf, rising to his feet.
"Yes," said the stranger, smirking. "I always say things, except when I… don't. But here's the thing. We've already… done it."
"Done what?" said Gandalf, gripping for his staff.
"Destroyed the Ring," said the stranger. "Oh, not that replica that little Frodo's holding so tight. Which is a masterpiece, if I do say so myself, even down to the invisibility chip. It took me days to perfect that one, and involved certain… accidents with domestic appliances, don't sue me it, it's not as if a toilet has to be visible to be functional, no matter what Clint says."
Frodo gazed in horror at the ring in his hand. "A… replica?" he said. "It can't be."
"We took the real one at Bree," said the stranger. "Or, rather, Agent Romanoff did. That lovely young waitress who sat down next to you and wanted you to give her a kiss? You resisted, of course - why is everyone in this world so afraid of sex? - but Merry and Pippin let her get close enough that she could snatch the Ring during the resulting confusion."
"What have you done?" cried Gandalf. "What manner of treachery is this?"
"Treachery? Now I'm offended," said the stranger. "We thought it the best thing to do, since you seemed determined to entrust a world-destroying super-weapon to a half-sized hobbit who had no idea where he was going. Consider this an intervention."
"We are ruined!" cried Gandalf.
"Not really," said the stranger. "Here's how it is. Steve - you haven't met Steve - is Mr Perfect, impossible to corrupt. I wouldn't touch the Ring myself - not wise, really, considering… well… everything - but Steve was safe, don't anyone dare say otherwise. So he took hold of the Ring, I took hold of him, and we flew to Mordor, dropped the Ring in the fiery furnace - and, seriously, why do supervillains always have those in their back yards? - and there you are, game over."
"The Ring is destroyed?" said Elrond. "It cannot be. I do not feel the lightening of the heart that should come from the destruction of such great evil."
"Yeah, I seem to have that effect on people," said the stranger. "But, yup, all gone, bye-bye. And those Black Rider guys…? Clint and Thor and the Hulk took care of those - a few special arrows, a hammer, and some… smashing."
No one answered. The noon-bell rang. Still no one spoke.
"Uh… is that a problem?" said the stranger. "We thought you'd be pleased? No need for you to fight wars, die, face almost certain ruin?"
"I have a strong feeling that I was supposed to have a heroic death," said Boromir, "thus paving the way for Aragorn to prove his worth in battle and become king."
"Sam and I were going to have so much character development," said Frodo ruefully.
"So were Merry and Pippin, Master Frodo," said Sam, jumping up from the corner where he had been quietly sitting on the floor.
"I was finally going to get out of these boring grey robes," said Gandalf. "I have already placed an order for shiny white ones. It will be necessary to cancel that now."
"The elves were supposed to fight the War of the Ring, then leave this world forever," said Elrond sadly. "The insurance on this place runs out next year."
"Jesus!" said the stranger, throwing up his hands. "Next time there's a world that needs saving, we're staying at home."