It’s December and the time of year when all of the “good” movies are trickling into theaters. And I’m relieved. Indulging in the cinema junk food that fills the theaters between April and December can wear a soul out. So many comic book movies, so many franchise sequels, so many horror movies; the end of the year is when all of the micro-budgets parceled out from the ill-gotten gains of mindless tent poles turn into award-caliber movies. Finally, we can go to half-empty theaters and see what can be done with film when it comes from people who only care about making quality art and telling a good story; not getting the biggest weekend box office numbers. With all that said, the big question I’ve been wrestling with is: who would win between Twilight’s Cullen family and The Avengers?
Please, allow me this one last excess before I’m compelled to write something about Sarah Silverman in I Smile Back and start using meaningless words like “tour de force”. I just don’t think enough credit is given to the formidability of The Cullen family: a group of vampires marginalized mainly because they’re stylish and attractive. Really, when it came down to it in some real, thoughtful fan fiction: could they defeat America’s darlings: Marvel’s The Avengers? I think they stand a chance.
I can guess what you’re thinking. “Twilight?! Not only were those movies based on the most brainless and morally questionable young-adult fiction ever printed, but they were over five years ago!” Totally fair. But come on, Katniss Everdeen and her lame rebellion armed with arrows are no match for the Mighty Avengers. And Divergent? Who even knows what that mess is even about? I’ve tried to watch that five times and it’s cost me at least $30 in iPhone apps I was so bored. I would have had a better time unpacking Ellis Lacey’s evolution during her transatlantic journeys between Ireland and Brooklyn.
Twilight vampires get a horrible rap and despite how cool you may think those “cool” motorcycle riding Lost Boys were in the 80s. Really, Twilight vampires run at incredible speeds, are strong enough to pull trees out by their roots, and they don’t have the traditional weakness to sunlight. These are the default characteristics that make them more than a match for the likes of Hawkeye, Black Widow, and even Captain America. But beyond those abilities, some of the Cullens can do more like read minds, predict the future, and alter moods. I think the Avengers may have their hands full.
The Avengers: Age of Twilight
The snow crunched beneath their feet as Hawkeye and Black Widow rushed to position themselves behind the first trees in the forest that allowed a view of their target. They had the cover of darkness for now but dawn approached and if everything went right, they’d have who they came for by first light. With his back pressed against the ice-covered trunk, Clint readied his bow and took a peek at the beautiful three-story house in the clearing. The immaculate home almost appeared to be made of crystal as moonlight that managed to escape the overcast Alaskan sky gleamed on the mostly-glass surface. A steamy sigh puffed from his mouth as he looked back at Natasha, “this is the place?” confused that the place where Nick Fury was being held captive. He expected something closer to a lair or castle but no, it was bright residence.
“This is it, according to the S.H.I.E.L.D. brief.”
“And in this S.H.I.E.L.D. brief, this is the base of operations of a coven of vampires?” Clint scoffed, his body relaxing as he almost completely put his bow away.
Natasha tapped a nearly imperceptible piece in her ear, “Steve, Tony, we have eyes on the structure.”
“’Eyes on the structure?’” Tony interrupted his beeline streak at 20,000 ft making a parabolic dive that slowed his 600 mph flight to a controlled hover within range of the Cullen home. “That’s an insult to the architectural genius that is this crystal palace. Remind me to get the name of their real estate agent.”
“Tony, we need you focused.” The Captain barked curt orders as if he were commanding the Howling Commandos in Germany. “We want to make this extraction as clean as possible; we don’t know what we’re up against.” From the east-facing side of the house opposite Black Widow and Hawkeye, Captain America prepared to make his move: a maneuver they’d performed the last two times Nick Fury found himself held prisoner. “Clint, fire that EMP.”
On his order, Hawkeye pivoted around the tree, drawing his bow, and then released at a 70-degree angle all in one continuous motion. The arrow, equipped with a tiny controlled-explosive, sailed in a high arch falling at the perfect location above the Cullen home that would knock out the power and aid in the Captain’s infiltration. All routine and any of them could have run it play-by-play in their minds just the way it would carry out to plan.
That is unless it doesn’t go to plan.
Hawkeye’s EMP arrow should have detonated by now but the lights remained on. Captain America had already lurched forward on the anticipation the power failure but he was able to stop himself. Iron Man’s infrared, keeping tabs from above, couldn’t detect the anomaly; and all at once there was nothing at all.
“Tony!” Black Widow shouted in a whisper into her com-set, “what’s your status?!”
Iron Man couldn’t respond; the EMP pulse disrupted his suit. JARVIS relayed urgent situational updates as the heads-up display struggled to remain active. “Guys? Guys! What’s going on down there?” There was no response; his suit was shutting down.
On the other side of Cullen house walls while the chaos went on outside, Alice gave a quick glance over to Esme and Rosalie. “Emmett did it,” calmly informing them, “He was able to intercept the arrow and throw it towards Iron Man.”
“Just like you predicted,” Esme proudly responded, “now we have to buy time. Rosalie, check to see how Edward and Carlisle are doing with our guest. Maybe we can avert a battle. If we’re lucky.”
Rosalie left in a flash running to the basement area that acted as a makeshift medical facility Carlisle constructed as their new Alaskan home was being built. “Carlisle?” the urgency on her face was all he needed to see.
“I’m afraid he hasn’t come to, yet. He’s been unconscious since we recovered him from the crash.” Despite all that was at stake, Carlisle still attended to the strange man as a patient. “Edward has had a difficult time gleaning any information from him despite his vulnerable state.”
“I can get bits and pieces but the amount of discipline at keeping secrets is almost supernatural.” Edward clutched Fury’s limp hand his face becoming tensed, eyes squinting trying hard to break through to important information in Fury’s mind, “but from what I can tell, he works for the government in some capacity… military or something similar… he was on his way back from Russia and attacked.” His body relaxed, “that’s about all I can gather now. We need him awake. An adrenaline shot, maybe?”
“No. We can’t resort to that quite yet. The shock might send his heart into arrest. For right now, we just need time and hopefully, some understanding from The Avengers.” And just then, there was commotion upstairs. “Rosalie, they may need you.”
“I’ll go with you.”
“No, Edward, I need you here.” Carlisle turned back to Rosalie, “dear, go, now.” And in the blink of an eye, she vanished.
And then, outside, all eyes turned to their leader.
“Cap, what do we do now?” Hawkeye said into his com.
“We’re going to do this the hard way. I’ll go in first. Hawkeye, you cover me. Widow, when all the attention is on us, see if you can find an opening on the Northside of the house. If you can’t; make one. Thor?”
“I am here, Captain.” Thor bolted in from the south.
“Thor, if we get any interference before we breech the doors I want you to bring the thunder. As much shock and awe as possible.”
“Understood.” And in seconds, the Norse god landed in the snow ready to serve up an impromptu storm.
Inside, Esme was ready to concoct an improvised plan based on the intelligence Alice gave her. “They intend to come through the front door,” Alice said coming from her mildly catatonic state.
“We can’t let them come inside. We have to protect Renesemee.” Esme, called to the others who had taken up defensive positions in the four corners of the house. “Emmett, Jasper… greet them outside. See if they’re willing to talk. Rosalie, relieve Bella on the north wall. I need her to provide defense for the boys.” On their cues, everyone moved into position.
“What about Renesemee?” Rosalie asked concerned.
Captain America charged the door but by the time he was still 30 yards away, Emmett leapt in front of him. “Not another step closer, Captain!”
“You have someone that belongs to us, stranger, and we intend to get him back.” The Captain barked.
“And we don’t intend to keep him! We just…” and before he could get out another word, one of Hawkeye’s flash arrows blinded him. In a split second, Emmett’s ability to reason which was held so fragilely in check dissipated into pure rage causing him to instinctively swing at Captain America. Even with his enhanced reflexes and combat training, the vampire-speed and ferocity of Emmett’s blow still managed to connect; Captain America was barely able to absorb the blow with his shield in the nick of time.
Jasper charged engaging the Star-Spangled hero in direct combat. They were nearly an even match, Jasper aided by his supernatural gifts and decades of military experience and The Captain enhanced by the super-soldier serum. But Jasper proved too much, confusing his opponent with a series of high-speed jabs setting him up for a well-placed blow to the chest. Jasper moved in to restrain him hoping that by defusing the fight, he could finally break through but the crackle in the distance gave way to a boom of thunder strong enough unsettle the vampire.
Thor twirled his might Mjolnir launching himself into the fray; he reared back his hammer striking the ground rattling everything within a mile’s radius. With his other hand, he reached for Jasper’s neck. “Where is Nick Fury?!” Before he could reach him, his hand was repulsed by an invisible field of pure force. Jasper grabbed the disoriented Emmett and retreated a few yards to a safer distance to regroup.
“How you doing, buddy?” Jasper said with a smirk.
“I’m well enough to get back into this fight.” Still somewhat dazed, the disorientation did only a little to bring Emmett out of his angered state.
“I need your head in the game. Thor may be too strong to fight head-on, and especially not this close to the house. I need you to lure him away and hold his attention to buy us time against his friends.”
“Got it.” But before he went back into action, a scary thought crossed his mind, “what if the green…”
“If it comes to that then none of this other stuff matters, now does it?”
With that, Emmett streaked directly for the Thunder God; no strategy, no technique. Just pure force. The speed and surprise was enough to launch Thor backward, the two of them barreling straight back into the snowy wilderness knocking down a trail of trees as they went. As Jasper watched proudly, he was caught off guard with a taser arrow that would have felled a rhinoceros; more than enough for an immortal.
“Jasper!” Bella cried out. Another volley was launched at her. Five arrows, one after another but with her lightning speed, she caught them all. Bella began to make her counter attack but one of the beeping arrows in her grasp exploded, knocking her to the ground. Esme watched from inside as her three “children” and first line of defense had been broken.
“Rosalie!” She shouted back to the other side of the house, “We’re going to have to abandon our posts and meet them outside!”
Hawkeye rushed over to Captain America who recovered from his winding. “We need you, Cap.”
“I’m okay,” his body could repair itself much faster than a normal man but Jasper’s blow was still severe. “Let’s hurry while there’s no one at the door.” But like magic, the two ladies appeared between them and their mission.
Meanwhile, in the basement hospital below, Carlisle and Edward’s worry went to the war above. “Bella and Jasper are down. Rosalie and Esme have gone to reinforce them. And Emmett battles Thor miles from here; he seems to be holding his own for now.”
“I know you’re tempted to help them but we must remain here at least a little while longer.” And on cue, the beeps from the EKG took a new more encouraging rhythm. “I think their friend is coming to.”
Through the hazy vision in his good eye, Fury tried to make sense of his surroundings. It looked like a hospital but his gut told him otherwise. As he scanned the room, he caught sight of the pale white skin, fair hair, and topaz eyes of his host; almost instantaneously, he called his name, “Carlisle,” the words were weak, “Dr. Carlisle Cullen?”
And no sooner than he showed signs of life, Nick Fury lost consciousness again leaving more questions than answers.
Hawkeye and Captain America stood in the snow in a Mexican standoff with their two new adversaries.
“We just want to talk, Captain!” Esme called from her position in front of the house, “no more fighting this morning!”
“Fine, just bring us our friend, and we will leave you in piece!” The Captain responded.
“That suits us okay,” Rosalie added, “but just know that he’s in no condition to travel!”
“What have you done with him?!” Hawkeye yelled angrily, drawing his bow preparing for another skirmish.
“No, Avenger, we found him…” the words cut short once again by the worst-timed intervention. Finally, their worst fear had arrived: The Hulk. As his giant green body crashed to the earth, shockwaves nearly stronger than Thor’s hammer again rattled the foundation of the house. Rosalie and Esme flew backward crashing into the crystal exterior of the house.
“Now’s the time to strike, while we have the advantage,” Hawkeye said excited, but Captain America finally began to doubt that they were the enemy.
“Wait!” he ordered Hawkeye, “we have to pull The Hulk back. I think we won’t need him after all.”
“What? There are more of them inside!”
“Hulk!” Captain America desperately tried to get the monster’s attention. “Hulk, call off your attack.” It was too late, the dull beast had already been set in motion and it was nearly impossible to redirect him. Instead, the Hulk charged a few steps forward before unleashing a thunderclap in the ladies’ direction.
The windows on the first and second floors shattered. Rosalie took most of the blast spinner her through one wall and out of another. Esme angled backward summersaulting into a tree. When she settled, she raised her head looking for her daughter. “Rose…” the words faintly exited her mouth but Rosalie was down for the count.
Alice, who was still inside, freed herself from the wreckage that became the bottom floor. She cried out in terror as her family had gone down one by one to the Avengers. To this point, Alice had been in a trance “seeing” different outcomes of how they could survive and even win this fight. Despite the violent interruption, she did recall one.
Like a streak of lightning, Alice made it outside into the snow temporarily forsaking Esme and Rosalie. Instead, she found her love, Jasper who still felt the remaining effects of the taser arrow. Slapping his face and calling his name in desperation, he started to come to, just like she knew he would.
“No time, I need you to focus.”
“What’s going on?”
“Us getting pounded into glass if you don’t listen. The green one is here and I need you to stop him.”
“The Hulk?” Jasper said in panic knowing that in all his tactical experience, and from what he witnessed on television, there would be no way that all of the Cullens combined could stand up to him. “How can we?”
“Listen, as long as The Hulk is enraged, he’s a threat. But if he were to be calmed, he will be weaker than a human.”
“Calmed?” Jasper echoed.
“Calmed!” Alice reiterated. “You know what to do.”
And he did. Jasper, shaking off his wounds like a disciplined soldier, took sight of The Hulk. The green monster readied itself for the next confrontation, yelling into the cold morning air ready to flatten the home further and then all at once, the yelling, little-by-little, subsided. The Hulk growled, this time more quietly. Then again; quieter still. He lurched toward the house wanting to demolish it, but his angry scowl turned into a confused face of a child. His fists relaxed into open hands. He took another step forward with all the desire in the world to complete his simple mission. The giant green food stepped in the snow but smaller than it was just seconds before. Another step; the green foot turned into pink human flesh. And with the final step, his foot was blue with the onset of frostbite.
Jasper had done it; he was able to change The Hulk’s mood from rage to calm. Now the invincible beast had become a feeble, freezing man.
“You did it!” Alice couldn’t help but give Jasper a passionate kiss right there in the snow.
Captain America and Hawkeye were stunned by what they’d just witnessed but now they had to refocus; the mission was right in front of them and needed to be ended as quickly as possible.
“We need to just charge that house and get to Fury while we have the advantage.”
“Got it!” Hawkeye drew another arrow readying himself for whatever awaited them. The two Avengers once again almost made it inside and were once again stopped. A giant wolf tackled The Captain who only managed to save himself from being buried by instinctively rolling with the blow. It was Jacob, and he turned his attention to Hawkeye who had already drawn on the wolf. He snarled, angered by the threat to his new family and violently lunged at Hawkeye who launched a concussion arrow. Without breaking his momentum, Jacob snagged it out of the air with his teeth snapping it in half. Hawkeye was only able to roll out of the way in the nick of time before the monstrous werewolf leapt past him sliding in the snow as he pivoted for another attack. In one motion, Hawkeye had already reloaded and loosed another arrow, this one striking Jacob in shoulder; it electrocuted him but the effect was not enough to stop him from charging again despite being somewhat disoriented.
Jake grasped the bow in his mouth crunching down on its fiberglass shaft breaking it in two. He flung the pieces in both directions with a wild shake of his head. He howled and started another charge but Cap’s vibranium shield struck the side of his massive head, rebounding back onto the arm from which it came. Barely fazed, he turned his attention now on Captain America who readied himself for the wolf’s attack. As he dug his paws through the snow into the frozen ground beneath, he reared back on his haunches but it was too late; Hawkeye plunged two stun arrows into his hindquarters. Jacob unleashed one last howl but before he fully conceded defeat, he whipped his head back toward Hawkeye knocking him nearly 25 yards into a tree stump; the impact knocking him unconscious. Cap prepared to strike but it didn’t matter: the wolf fell into the snow fazing back into a young man. Now only Captain America, Alice, and Jasper remained.
In the basement hospital, another battle took place. “I think he’s stable enough that we can bring him back without causing any permanent harm. Edward, hand me the needle.” He reached for the item but was stopped by the sudden mental alert that Jacob had been hurt and worse yet, Renesemee was unprotected.
“Carlisle, I have to go. I have to get Nessie!”
Carlisle nodded, “I understand. Grab her and bring her back to the hospital.”
Edward streaked to the room where Renesemee hid.
Carlisle put his focus back on his patient, “let’s pray you can be the key to finally ending this nightmare.” He clutched the needle in his hand and raised it above Fury’s heart, his enhanced vision divining exactly the spot where it needed to go.
“Stop!” The female voice shouted from the shadows. It was Black Widow, guns drawn. She’d made her way to the basement finally. “Stop whatever you’re planning to do with that thing.”
“Please, my friend, we only mean to help him.”
“By keeping him locked up in your underground laboratory and shoving that massive needle into his chest?”
“Surely, we can broker a peace,” Carlisle pleaded.
“It’s too late for that. Now back away from him.”
Carlisle considered that as long as her firearm was the least bit conventional, he could definitely survive or even evade a shot. But the risk to the man lying in the gurney was too high. He conceded and backed away.
Black Widow made her way to Fury checking his vitals and trying to determine how easily he could be moved. She tapped her communication set, “Steve! Steve, can you hear me? I found Fury. He’s in bad shape.”
“I assure you, this is how we found him.” Carlisle interrupted.
“Steve! Let me know you’re still alive!”
“He’s fine… for now,” Edward informed her having nearly appeared out of thin air with his little one in his arms. “Right now, two of my family members have him outflanked and will subdue him in seconds if he doesn’t resist too much.”
“You don’t know Cap.”
“For all our sakes, you have to trust me. Surely, you won’t hurt a little girl.”
Black Widow stood there in shock with her gun now trained on a child of no more than seven, “you sick bastards, how dare you use a child as a shield.”
“No, she’s not a shield. I just want you to hold her hand.” Edward gently placed Renesemee on the floor never breaking eye contact with Black Widow. Still somewhat stunned, she kept her gun on Edward but watched as the fearless child approached reaching up to her. Against all reason, Black Widow reached back with one free hand.
Renesemee took her hand and removed the glove rolling it down off her wrist. She gently held the naked hand staring back at Natasha with her giant doe eyes. The effect startled the super spy who had seen so much in her lifetime. Images flooded into her mind and a story that would have taken 30 minutes to explain fully and convincingly was fully understood in a second.
Black Widow lowered her gun. “Thank you. Thank you both for saving our friend.” She turned to Carlisle, “please, continue. Bring him out of his coma.”
Without words, Carlisle made his way back to the incapacitated man. He plunged the needle into his chest waking him from his sleep.
Outside, Alice and Jasper tried to negotiate with The Captain.
“Please, you’ve got to believe us, we don’t even know who the man is that you’re after.” Alice tried to explain.
“I… I think I believe you.” Captain America lowered his shield from the defensive position. “I’m still not sure why you’re holding him here.”
“We found him crashed a few miles from our home,” Jasper added. “It was less than 24 hours ago when we heard the plane go down.”
“Yes, three of our family went to check it out and discovered a man badly hurt in the wreckage. Once we freed him, the craft he was in exploded and completely disintegrated.”
“Of course, the self-destruct…” Captain began to put the pieces together.
“And we’ve held him here ever since; our father is a doctor and has had him on life support hoping that he would come to and we could finally get some answers,” Jasper chimed in once again, “Now we know, he must be an Avenger.”
“Not an Avenger but one of us.” Cap fully holstered his shield and approached the two youthful-looking vampires. “Please accept my apology on behalf…”
“Jasper, look out!” Alice got the flash of a vision and knocked her beloved away barely in time. It was Thor, returned from his fight with Emmett; he finally got the better of the vampire carrying his unconscious body over his shoulder and tossing him to the snowy ground.
“Captain!” Thor bellowed, “Enough dealing with these villains with a child’s touch; by Odin, we shall end this now!”
“Thor, no. It’s resolved!” Captain America’s words fell on the prideful deaf ears of the angered demi-god.
Thor twirled his Mjolnir preparing to deliver one last blow to the structure he perceived held his friend inside. Before his fury manifested into the devastating strikes of terrible lightning, Black Widow made herself visible to him. And with her, using her and the vampire, Dr. Carlisle Cullen as support was Nick Fury, in bad condition but recovering.
“No, Thor!” Black Widow called. She allowed Fury’s weight to fall completely on Carlisle; releasing him to dart into a position between Thor’s hammer and the men. It was too late; the Norse crusher was already flung. Thor, realizing in the commotion what had been done, reached out for the hammer to recall it his hand. And although he would have succeeded, he found himself standing in astonishment to the sight he beheld.
It was a rare occurrence amazing enough to leave a god speechless, but it did: with the blinding speed of a vampire, Carlisle sprinted for the flying Mjolnir hoping simply to lessen the damage that could potentially harm The Widow, Fury, and most of all his family and home. Not only did Carlisle stop the hammer but, as Thor witnessed, the sight of the vampire easily wielding Mjolnir.
Cullens and Avengers alike gathered in the spacious den of the battle-damaged house. Amazingly, outside of a few shattered windows, the majority of the structure was intact. Carlisle, Jasper, and Alice helped nurse the wounds of the combatants from both sides but outside of bruised heads and egos, there were no major casualties on either side. For now, Nick Fury had still gotten the worst of it from the crash the previous day and he was on his way to a full recovery. Now alert and chatty, he sat on a plush couch near the fireplace and tried his best to fill everyone in on what caused the misunderstanding.
“The truth is, Carlisle that we have known about the Volturri for the past seventy years. We’ve always managed to keep an eye on their activities but felt as long as they did not expand their operations beyond Italy there was no need for a direct intervention.”
“And is that how you came to know us? Or were you aware before?” Carlisle inquired.
“S.H.I.E.L.D. as well as a few other high-level organizations were aware of vampire covens but 90% of the data we got on you was during the meeting in Washington four years ago. We tracked the Volturri movement which led us to you but our intelligence determined that you were not a threat.”
Emmett piped up rubbing his jaw still aching from his battle with Thor, “not a threat? You could have fooled me.”
“Well, that’s the other part of this. The existence of vampires has been classified level: Omega. Not even the President knows of you or the wolves. But after the infiltration by Hydra, much of the intel on you was corrupted.”
Black Widow’s brow furrowed as she connected the dots in her mind, “So that’s why when we were alerted by S.H.I.E.L.D, you were classified as a threat.”
“Quite possibly, Natasha,” said Fury, “I think Hydra was well aware of which covens we classified as ‘neutral’ and ones we classified as potential ‘threats’. Thankfully the failsafe that brings me to our closest friendly location was off the S.H.I.E.L.D network; it designated the Cullens as allies and autopiloted in the vicinity of your location.”
Just then, the conversation was interrupted. Edward and Jacob had returned with their quarry.
Bella was the first to greet them with a verbal quip, “well look what the wolf dragged in!” It was Tony riding on the back of Jacob clutching the thick tufts of fur for stability and warmth. And behind them was Edward effortlessly carrying the damaged armor.
“So, can I assume by the hot coco everyone is drinking that I missed something? We’re all good here?” Tony remarked sarcastically.
Carlisle calmly rose from his post at the arm of the coach where he sat next to his wife, “yes, my friend; shall I make you a cup as well?”
“I think I’ll pass, thanks,” Tony paused for a moment admiring the inside of the beautiful home which was even more amazing than the outside, “But I will have one thing.”
“Name it,” Carlisle said.
“The number of your real estate agent. I’ve got to get myself one of these.”
And on cue, the room erupted in laughter.