The long-awaited superhero blockbuster The Avengers was finally released this past week after years of media hype, much fanboy salivating, and a series of extended trailers posing as movies in their own right, such as the fairly decent Thor, the tedious Captain America: The First Avenger, and the downright lamentable Iron Man 2.
The movie will no doubt run along somewhat predictable lines: The makeshift team of mercurial heroes are thrown together; sparks fly; personalities clash; Scarlett Johansson flashes some side-boob; Robert Downey Jr. arches an eyebrow and makes a pithy remark; Samuel L. Jackson sends his driver to collect his cheque. All very banal and utterly unsurprising.
What audiences need is an entirely new kind of superhero film, one removed from the tired clichés and overused tropes of the black hole of originality that is the Marvel Universe. Perhaps one set in Ireland, against the backdrop of our economic woe, could be the answer…
The film opens with a sweeping panorama of a ravaged, decrepit Dublin ten years in the future. The once prosperous city, now known as AvivaPolis, has crumbled under the weight of insurmountable debt, massive unemployment, and the closure of that savage little doughnut stall on O’Connell Street. Gigantic toxic banks line the streets, their colossal smokestacks spewing waste high into the grey, lifeless air as they burn the carcasses of household charge withholders in order to turn their remains into miniature European flags.
Cash-for-gold shops stretch as far as the eye can see, interspersed with the makeshift tenements of the legions of citizens who have been evicted from their homes. Their crude dwellings are thrown together using anything that can be found: mountains of now useless 2 Euro coins, posters pleading for a ‘Yes’ vote in the 27th referendum on the austerity package, old issues of the Evening Herald full of pictures of food so people could remember what it looked like.
Towering above all of this misery and desolation lies an enormous glass dome perched on top of the Spire, the headquarters of the evil Troika, a trio of ruthless oligarchs who rule the city with an iron fist. The fist itself is kept out in the RDS and is taken out on special occasions to crush dissidents and small animals, so as to keep people in check. Some say that the Troika escaped from a two-dimensional floating prison in space and came to Earth to conquer it. Others maintain that this is just the plot of Superman II and that the Troika are in fact from mainland Europe.
Marching along the streets day and night, clad in black leather uniforms and EU flag capes, are the Siptuplets, the police force of the Troika. Legend has it that the Siptuplets were once part of the proletariat, but were corrupted after years of pay agreements warped their socialist ideals and turned them to the dark side. Their commander, known only as Dr. Joe, is regarded as the Troika’s right-hand man, and is feared even by his own men. He once found one of his subordinates feeding half a cheese sandwich to a duck that had been ejected from his lake for non-payment of a Credit Union loan. He proceeded to beat the man to death with the bird, then beat the bird to death with the cheese sandwich.
In this dark dystopian hinterland, amidst the turmoil and grief that lies over the city like a dense fog made of turmoil and grief, there is but one beacon of hope for the Irish people. He is a shining light who inspires hope in the face of the city’s oppression. A noble insurgent against the forces of economic subjugation. A daring warrior poet who stands resolved to fight for the fiscal independence of every starving man, woman and child that he represents and holds dear. His name, let it be praised, is Shinnerman.
As night falls in AvivaPolis, our intrepid hero may be seen dashing across a darkened rooftop, or perched atop a vacant block of apartments, broodily surveying his domain as he plans his next strike into the heart of the wicked Troika. Grubby-faced children point and call to him as he swoops from building to building. “Oh Shinnerman, where you gonna run to?” they shout. He turns and answers with a low, sonorous growl, “I go to finish what I have begun.” And with that he is gone, leaving just the slightest gleam of light as the price tag on his tricolour cape catches a glint of the waxing moon.
The Shinnerman is always vigilant, always alert, always looking for a way to end the Troika’s reign of terror with the economic policies he has scrawled on the napkins stuffed into the pockets of his Celtic utility belt. He will not rest until he has restored economic independence to the island. He will not retreat until the hordes of homeless are safely returned to their abodes. He will not waver until the Troika is vanquished and his people can go back to spending their social welfare on essentials like cigarettes. The only problem is…he has no idea how to do any of this.
And so Shinnerman recoils once more into the shadows, vowing to return and liberate the city from bondage, just as soon as he’s figured out a few things. In the meantime, however, he’s heading to the chipper, followed by a trip to the bookies. He got a great tip from a taximan the other day for the 3.30 at Doncaster. Shinnerman, away!