What happens when your favorite superheroes meet to play cards?
If you take under consideration the ‘super’ factor, the answer is: probably something widely cool. And given the kind of lives they have – most likely something with the great chances to sneak up on you and explode with action twists. Either way, it is a nice idea to implement into narrative in a superhero story. Besides, they can have hobbies, too.
With increasing popularity of the game and strong online presence of its many varieties, as evidenced by the real money poker rooms at PokerNews, it seems like public opinion really grows on the idea. In fact, poker has arguably been a vital part of American culture since as far as 19th century. Popular culture also often refers to the popular card play, and such a recurring motif can be spotted in the stories about superhuman characters from Marvel universe. The concept behind it is simple, and in-volves regularly scheduled occasions where super humans would gather around in one place to face each other in a friendly card game.
Presumably, the initiative came from Ben Grimm, AKA the Thing, or from one of the Avengers. Usually the guest list consisted of Fantastic Four and Avengers members, sometimes invited friends. Typical locations for the event included Grimm’s apartment, Avengers Mansion, secret Avengers headquarters and Fantastic Four headquarters.
The game gatherings first appeared in Marvel Two-In-One comic book series, number 51 in May 1979, although it was implied that it has been a thing for some time. Besides that, there were some additional mentions of poker on other occasions, but they don’t fall under the category of an organized event. Among frequent noble participants were: S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Nick Fury, Captain America, Beast (Henry McCoy), Iron Man, Wolverine, Wonder Man and many more. When Peter Parker played, his aunt was there and even baked cookies.
Those poker meetings were used by the creators to depict heroes in their leisure time, socializing with each other, which also gave the viewers a unique opportunity to see a different side of our beloved characters. Like Ben Grimm’s insecurities about woman (Ms. Marvel) presence at the table, who incidentally was doing rather well for herself, in that first introduction of the game evenings. It also be-came an important narrative tool that allowed the story to take quick dynamic turn. The common thread in those situations was the interruption of the game by one of the supervillains trying to take down the city, or being a nuisance in some other way. Blastaar, Annihilus, Psycho-Man and General Pollock were often the ones to cause trouble and the reason the game had to be cut short. So far, we haven’t been able to see any poker action in Avengers films but perhaps moviemakers will use this background to sneak a funny banter between hot-tempered characters. Wouldn’t anyone like to witness intense starring contest between Tony Stark and Captain America? Or Hulk picked up a fight with Thor? The last one definitely did not happen in the comic books but there surely is a lot of room for creativity…