Ok, so I finally saw The Avengers over the weekend (I’m late, I’m aware) but while it served its purpose as an action packed and at times witty summer action flick, two things kept me wondering ::  What came first? Madeleine L’Engle’s Tesseract or The Marvel Universe’s?  Was not the Black Widow’s introductory scene much akin to that of the Alias pilot? I mean, c’mon, let me draw the comparison :: Short red hair, smart attitude, tied to a chair, evil guy asking to the same extent, “Who do you work for you pretty girl,” the allusion to the possibility of pulling teeth (in Alias he actually did pull out some teeth) and escaping by drawing the enemy near and kicking him where you know it hurts, etc, fight scene to follow…I have video back my theory up below. And while I know the whole tied to a chair interrogation sequence is common amongst spy related scenes, the similarities between the two scenes on an imagery level was too much for me.
But back to the business of the Tesseract.
According to Wikipedia (sorry, more thorough research would have transpired if I were writing for an accredited news source) the term “tesseract” was first coined in 1888 by a certain Charles Howard Hinton (mathematician/sci-fi author) in a book titled A New Era of Thought. The word “tesseract” is derived from the Greek “four rays” and meaning simply (at least according to A Wrinkle in Time) squaring the square. L’Engle’s award winning novel was written in 1962 with that same concept in mind, only, she used that idea as a verb, “to tesser,” resulting in the means of a form of energy (nuclear power in The Avengers anyone?) and travel. She wrote ::
“‘Now we will tesser, we will wrinkle again. Do you understand?…Calvin talked about traveling at the speed of light…That, of course, is the impractical long way around. We have learned shortcuts wherever possible..if a small insect were to move from the section of skirt in Mrs. Who’s right hand to that in her left, it would be quite a long walk for him if he had to walk straight across.’ Swiftly Mrs. Who brought her hands, still holding the skirt together. ‘Now you see,’ Mrs. Whatsit said, ‘he would be there, without that long trip. That is how we travel’…’It was a concept they were playing with,’ Mrs. Whatsit said, ‘going beyond the fourth dimension to the fifth’…’Okay,’ said Charles Wallace, ‘What is the first dimension?’ ‘
‘Well, a line.’
‘Okay. And the second dimension?’
‘Well you’d square the line. A flat square would be in the second dimension.’
‘And the third?’
‘Well, you’d square the second dimension. Then the square wouldn’t be flat anymore…’
‘And the fourth?’
‘Well, I guess if you want to put it into mathematical terms you’d square the square. But you can’t take a pencil and draw it the way you can the first three. I know it’s got something to do with Einstein and time. I guess you could call the fourth dimension Time.’
‘…then for the fourth dimension you’d square the fourth, wouldn’t you?’
‘I guess so.’
‘Well, the fifth dimension’s a tesseract. You add that to the other four dimensions and you can travel through space without having to go the long way around. In other words, to put it into Euclid, or old-fashioned plane geometry a straight line isn’t the shortest distance between two points.'”
And with that, now alluding to the evil-doers in The Avengers, they were able to open that black hole portal thing (I didn’t see many super hero movies in the past year) and in essence, travel through space and time to wreck havoc on planet earth ie Manhattan. Who also traveled through space in time by means of the Tesseract? I’ll tell you :: Meg and Charles Wallace Murray, Calvin O’Keefe, and the Mrs. Which, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Whatsit in Madeleine L’Engle’s 1962 A Wrinkle in Time.
Catching my breath.
Further research (via Google and Wikipedia) indicates that The Avenger’s “tesseract” is actually a re-named Marvel Universe object known as the “Cosmic Cube,” first appearing in a summer series in 1966 (following L’Engle’s publication by the way) called The Tales of Suspense. It then appeared in a 1969 summer series (July to September) of Captain America and so on and so forth. It wasn’t until Iron Man 2, however, that this “Cosmic Cube” was was shown and in Thor only alluded to as an “unlimited power.” It was in fact 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger that the name “tesseract” was used.
In conclusion, L’Engle, Feely, Markus, Penn and Whedon (the latter four screen writers for the most recent Captain America and The Avengers films) all copied or “remixed” from Hinton’s original notion of the fourth dimension known as the Tesseract. Rowling did the same thing with the character of Nicolas Flamel, who I believed to be a Rowling original until I did some research and found out he was actually a legit person and famed alchemist dating back to the 12th and 13th centuries.