A meditation on good vs evil in Avengers, focused on a comparison of Steed and Beresford from “Return of the Cybernauts.” This originally appeared on mytumblr blog.
First let’s make a list of characteristics Steed and Beresford have in common. They are:
financially well off
attractive to women
willing to kill to protect the people they love (yes, I know Beresford’s brother is already dead, but if Beresford had been there in “Cybernauts” he doubtless would have cheerfully killed both Emma and Steed to protect Anderson.)
So we have these two men who have an awful lot of basically positive characteristics in common, to the point where Emma feels attracted to Beresford even as she is already in a relationship with Steed. But Beresford is evil, and Steed is not. How come?
This was something I originally posted on mytumblr blog, but it seems appropriate to repost it here, with a few modifications.
In “The Superlative Seven,” Steed and six others are lured onto a plane by a criminal mastermind (Donald Sutherland!) who is trying to sell his method of martial arts training to a foreign buyer. The captives on the plane include a fencing master, a bullfighter, a sharpshooter, a big game hunter, a military man who has created his own system of unarmed combat (Brian Blessed!), and a strongman. And then there’s Steed. The seven of them are being taken to a remote island in order to put to the test the fighting abilities of the mastermind’s protegé, who is hidden among the seven.
While the seven are on the plane, the strongman bends a poker, which he then tosses to Steed. Steed proceeds to unbend the poker, much to the chagrin of the strongman, who had been billing himself as “the strongest man in the world.” We later see Steed engage in a bit of trick shooting with a revolver.
The Champions: Richard Barrett, Craig Sterling, and Sharron Macready
In September 1968, ITV launched a new series called The Champions, which was created by Monty Berman and Dennis Spooner. The Champions ran for only a single season (30 episodes), and starred Angela Bastedo as Sharron Macready, William Gaunt as Richard Barrett, and Stuart Damon as Craig Sterling. Macready, Barrett, and Sterling are highly trained agents of an international security service called Nemesis. Each of them has a unique skill set: Macready is a doctor and biochemist; Barrett an expert in ciphers and codes; Sterling is a former US Air Force pilot.
This is the third installment in a three-part blog. Please refer to Part 1for the premise of my argument and important background information. You canread Part 2 here.
So now we arrive at the pièce de résistance: Neurodivergent Steed. For some time now, I have had a headcanon that Steed is neurodivergent, albeit not autistic. Specifically, I think he has attention deficit disorder/attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD). Although the word “disorder” is incorporated into these diagnoses, it’s important to keep in mind that these are forms of neurodivergence, and therefore some of the many kinds of variation in the human neurotype: they are not mental illnesses.
This is the second installment in a three-part blog. Please refer toPart 1for the premise of my argument and important background information.
Someone has been scaling the walls of very tall buildings, breaking windows, and then shredding to death the people they find in the rooms they invade. Steed and Mrs Peel follow a chain of clues that lead them to one Professor Poole (played by Jack MacGowran), an inventor whose work may have made those murders possible. They drive out to the professor’s country house in order to interview him, but noone answers the doorbell. This is because the professor is out on the grounds jumping around and flapping a large set of what look like bat wings. He bounds towards the house as Steed and Mrs Peel look on.
“But you would have gone to Ali’s defence? Physically?” “Under different circumstances, certainly.” He did not seem angry at my disobedience, just puzzled. Finally he said, “But women do not fight.” “This one does,” I answered. He held my gaze, then looked sideways at Holmes. “This one does,” my mentor confirmed. — Mahmoud Hazr, Mary Russell, and Sherlock Holmes in O Jerusalem by Laurie R King
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One of the groundbreaking aspects of The Avengers from the beginning of the Cathy Gale era was that Steed’s female partners were treated as his equals, and hints were often dropped that the women might be even better than he was at some things, or smarter in some ways. This was done in absolute seriousness: Cathy Gale and Emma Peel were written neither in a humorous attempt to undermine Steed’s masculinity, nor in order to lampoon the women as ball-breaking viragos. These women are not caricatures: they are strong, skilled, capable, and intelligent, and expect to be treated accordingly. Steed certainly does that: he accepts Cathy and Emma just as they are. He is not threatened by their talents, but rather celebrates them, and Steed’s delight in his partners and what they can do is one of the finest aspects of those relationships.
In “The Thirteenth Hole,” the bad guys are out on the links, pretending that they’re interested in their golf game. When they get to the thirteenth hole, they find an agent snooping around. Reed tells his caddy that he wants his “303” golf club. This turns out to be a rifle, with which Reed shoots and kills the agent.
Later, when Steed and Mrs Peel are heading out for their final showdown with the villains, Mrs Peel pulls a walking stick out of Steed’s golf bag. Steed says that it’s actually a sword stick, but later when they’re fighting in the villains’ hideout Steed discovers that he brought the wrong stick from home: this one is a plain walking stick, no shiny sharp objects included.