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What If AVENGERS Was an ’80s Action Movie?

With Avengers: Infinity War‘s impending release in North America, we started thinking about a retro ’80s version.

What if they had decided to do an Avengers movie in the mid-’80s, right at the height of big budget, sort-of-schlocky action stuff? It’d have a ton of big-name action stars as well as a big-name director. I’m thinking James Cameron, fresh off of the success of The Terminator in 1984 and Aliens in 1986, would have been the perfect choice. So who would I have chosen, based on who was big in the ’80s at the time? Let’s find out as we cast The Avengers, 1980s style!

Iron Man a/k/a Tony Stark played by Kurt Russell

Kurt Russell proved his ruggedness in the ’80s with movies like The Thing and Big Trouble in Little China, but Tony Stark also needs to be a bit smarmy, which Russell did very well in Used Cars, and a lotta bit troubled by personal demons, which the actor did in The Mean Season. It’s a really good fit, I think. Plus, as the grinning face of Stark Industries, nobody wouldn’t like him.

Captain America a/k/a Steve Rogers played by Sam J. Jones

Okay, so here’s the thing. Sam J. Jones played Flash Gordon in the 1980 film of the same name aaaaaaaand, it has to be said he didn’t do the best job. But, with five more years of experience, the handsome all-American beefcake could have portrayed Steve Rogers, the naive and innocent 1940s boy four decades in the future, quite well, I think. Plus, with James Cameron at the helm, it’d be a whole lot easier to cover up some acting that might not be as stellar. Cameron’s good at that.

Thor played by Arnold Schwarzenegger

Come on! You knew this was coming. It’s a Cameron movie and you need a big, muscular god-like physique from a vaguely Scandinavian or Nordic area (people are dumb and don’t know where Austria is), so why wouldn’t you go with Aaaaaaaaaahnold? He’d already portrayed a god in Hercules in New York and a mighty warrior in Conan the Barbarian. Wielding a hammer is about the same as wielding a sword. Plus, how could you not want to hear him continually say “Asgaaaaaaard?”

Dr. Bruce Banner played by Jeffrey Combs

What you want from a Bruce Banner is somebody who you wouldn’t immediately think of for turning into a giant green rage monster. But what you WOULD want is somebody who could believably get mad enough to be able to turn into one. Enter Re-Animator himself, Jeffrey Combs. He’s somewhat small and meek, but he’s got a dark streak to him about a mile wide.

The Hulk played by Hulk Hogan

Because why the hell not? It’s the ’80s, let’s go stupidly obvious and without an ounce of satire. Do the Ferrigno treatment on him and you’re on your way.

Hawkeye a/k/a Clint Barton played by Michael Biehn

Another one of Cameron’s staple of actors, Biehn always shines when he gets to play the likeable rogue who’s tough and also sensitive. Biehn’s also no stranger to playing military guys, or guys on covert missions. I have faith he could have fired an explosive arrow just as well as he shot a pulse rifle, and he wouldn’t even need to use short, controlled bursts.

Black Widow a/k/a Natasha Romanoff played by Cynthia Rothrock

Now, Cynthia Rothrock might not be (and in fact isn’t) a household name, but she was the undisputed queen of martial arts movies in the ’80s. She was always the American star of Chinese kung fu cop flicks that most people have never heard of. But, like Black Widow at the time, Rothrock is the epitome of an ’80s tough chick, with the short haircut and big shoulder pads. Don’t mess with her, though; She’ll roundhouse kick you six ways from Sunday (an expression that means nothing, as far as I can tell).

Nick Fury played by Clint Eastwood

It’s the mid-’80s, you want gritty and grizzled but still wholly capable and formidable, you look no further than Dirty Harry himself. Not even the likes of Kurt Russell or Michael Biehn could really put one over on ol’ Eastwood, who would firmly establish himself as a S.H.I.E.L.D. man of incredible intensity. Russell basically did an Eastwood impression throughout Escape from New York, which would be very funny in scenes making fun of the eye-patched one.

And there we are! Marvel Week wraps up with a big ol’ ’80s action bow. I’d like to see the villain who’d tangle with this team. In fact, let’s make a game of that: Tell me in the comments who you think the villain(s) of the movie would be and who would play them. Your turn to be creative. And, maybe we’ll do some more of these types of things in the future.

Big thanks to my friend Ian Brill (@ibrill) for helping me brainstorm for this.

Images: Marvel/Columbia/Universal/Warner Bros/Golden Harvest

Kyle Anderson is the Associate Editor for Nerdist. You can find his film and TV reviews here. Follow him on Twitter!

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  1. Louis says:

    As for action movies, Blonde Squad scheduled for 2014 looks pretty action packed.

  2. Gatchamic says:

    Thanos: (a whole lot of special effects, think Tim Curry in Legend) Orson Welles
    Dr. Doom: the aforementioned Mr. Tim Curry.
    Immortus: Vincent Price
    Agree on Coombs as Banner. Anyone who disagrees needs to see the movies!!
    Christopher Walken as Arcade! Anyone disagreeing because of his height, I have two words for: Hugh Jackman!

  3. WoodDan says:

    Hawkeye is Clint BARTON… not Barnes.

  4. Ben says:

    other than keeping lou ferrigno and bill bixby as their original characters i love this list.

    but the villains i see would be

    Ronnie Cox as Justin Hammer aka underling for:
    Michael Ironside as Mandarin
    and Christopher Walkin as the Crimson Cowl (Ultron)

  5. Stine says:

    Thanos: Frank Langella.
    Mandarin: David Hong
    Modok: Danny Devito
    Dr. Doom: Dolph Lundgren (close second for Thor btw)
    Kang: Christopher Walken
    Loki: Eric Roberts