Back on the old site, I wrote a few articles following a rewatch of the Marvel Cinamatic Universe. Here are those articles again.
Title: The Avengers (“Avengers Assemble” in the UK)
Director: Joss Whedon
Written by: Joss Whedon
Characters created by: Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Joe Simon, Jack Kirby, Don Heck
US Release Date: May 4, 2012
Worldwide Box office: $1,520,000,000
Returning characters: Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Loki, Nick Fury, Pepper Potts, Phil Coulson, Erik Selvig
Summary: The Asgardian Loki encounters the Other, the leader of an extraterrestrial race known as the Chitauri. In exchange for retrieving the Tesseract, a powerful energy source of unknown potential, the Other promises Loki an army with which he can subjugate Earth.
Nick Fury, director of the espionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D., and his lieutenant Agent Maria Hill arrive at Project Pegasus during an evacuation, where physicist Dr. Erik Selvig is leading a research team experimenting on the Tesseract. Agent Phil Coulson explains that the object has begun radiating an unusual form of energy. The Tesseract suddenly activates and opens a wormhole, allowing Loki to reach Earth. Loki takes the Tesseract and uses his scepter to enslave Selvig and a couple of agents, including Clint Barton, to aid him in his getaway. In response to the attack, Fury reactivates the “Avengers Initiative”.
Agent Natasha Romanoff is sent to Calcutta to recruit Dr. Bruce Banner to trace the Tesseract through its gamma radiation emissions. Coulson visits Tony Stark to have him review Selvig’s research, and Fury approaches Steve Rogers with an assignment to retrieve the Tesseract. In Stuttgart, Barton steals iridium needed to stabilize the Tesseract’s power while Loki causes a distraction, leading to a confrontation with Rogers, Stark, and Romanoff that ends with Loki’s surrender. While Loki is being escorted to S.H.I.E.L.D., Thor arrives and frees him, hoping to convince him to abandon his plan and return to Asgard. After a confrontation with Stark and Rogers, Thor agrees to take Loki to the Helicarrier. There Loki is imprisoned while Banner and Stark attempt to locate the Tesseract.
The Avengers become divided, both over how to approach Loki and the revelation that S.H.I.E.L.D. plans to harness the Tesseract to develop weapons as a deterrent against hostile extraterrestrials. As the group argues, Barton and Loki’s other possessed agents attack the Helicarrier, disabling its engines in flight and causing Banner to transform into the Hulk. Stark and Rogers try to restart the damaged engine, and Thor attempts to stop the Hulk’s rampage. Romanoff fights Barton, and knocks him unconscious, breaking Loki’s mind control. Loki escapes after killing Coulson and ejecting Thor from the airship, while the Hulk falls to the ground after attacking a S.H.I.E.L.D. fighter jet.
Fury uses Coulson’s death to motivate the Avengers into working as a team. Stark and Rogers realize that for Loki, simply defeating them will not be enough; he needs to overpower them publicly to validate himself as ruler of Earth. Loki uses the Tesseract, in conjunction with a device Selvig built, to open a wormhole above Stark Tower, using the Tower’s Arc reactor to power the device. The wormhole reveals the Chitauri fleet in space, launching his invasion. The Avengers rally in defense of New York City, the wormhole’s location, but quickly realize they will be overwhelmed as wave after wave of Chitauri descend upon Earth. Banner arrives and transforms into the Hulk, and together he, Rogers, Stark, Thor, Barton, and Romanoff battle the Chitauri while evacuating civilians. The Hulk finds Loki and beats him into submission.
Romanoff makes her way to the wormhole generator, where Selvig, freed of Loki’s control, reveals that Loki’s scepter can be used to shut down the generator. Meanwhile, Fury’s superiors attempt to end the invasion by launching a nuclear missile at Midtown Manhattan. Stark intercepts the missile and takes it through the wormhole toward the Chitauri fleet. The missile detonates, destroying the Chitauri mothership and disabling their forces on Earth. Stark’s suit runs out of power, and he falls back through the wormhole just as Romanoff closes it. Stark goes into freefall, but the Hulk saves him from crashing to the ground.
In the aftermath, Thor returns Loki and the Tesseract to Asgard, while Fury expresses confidence that the Avengers will return if and when they are needed.
MCU Continuity Nods: Captain America finds Phase 2 weaponry in the secure storage area of the helicarrier. Those weapons are emblazoned with the Hydra logo. Bruce Banner references the fact that the last time he was in the U.S. he “broke Harlem.” This is a reference to The Incredible Hulk when The Hulk, portrayed by Edward Norton, fights the Abomination in Harlem, NY. When Pepper and Tony are in their apartment going over digital plans to rebuild Stark tower, the quinjet isn’t the only visible clue to an Avenger’s headquarters. The logo of each Avenger in the film can be seen on the digital canvas and Captain America’s shield is selected to reveal his quarters in the blueprint. The cleanup after the battle is seen at the beginning of Spider-Man: Homecoming
Easter Eggs: Tony Stark describes his group as “Earth’s mightiest heroes, that kind of thing.” This refers to the bold label that has appeared on “The Avengers” comic books since its 1963 publication. After Thor takes Loki off the Quinjet down on the mountain side, two large ravens fly by them as they are talking. In Norse mythology, their father, Odin, had two ravens, Huginn and Muninn, who would bring Odin information from Midgard (Earth).
Stan Lee Cameo: A New Yorker who doubts the existence of superheroes
Infinity Stone: The Tesseract. Loki’s sceptre contains the Mind Gem
Post/mid Credits Scene: the Other confers with Thanos about the failed attack on Earth. The Avengers eat in silence at a shawarma restaurant.
My Take: It shouldn’t have succeeded, but it did. Taking characters from four separate films and mashing them together was unheard of in the industry. However, it’s very commonplace in tbe comics. In fact the very first Avengers comics established that very set up, and Marvel knew the characters would fit.
Whedon takes his experience working with ensemble shows and manages to create a story that balances the different characters. One particular Whedon touch: Loki never gets to finish any of his grandiose speeches before he’s shot or body slammed. There are a lot of great fights: Iron Man vs. Thor, Thor vs. Hulk, Black Widow vs. Hawkeye, Loki vs. Thor. And the final fight between the Avengers and the Cuthari doesn’t pull any punches.
This is the film that changed the industry. Studios looked at the money Marvel brought in and tried to figure out how to duplicate their success. Sony thought Spider-man would work for them, Universal had their monsters, and Warner Brothers, who never sold off their characters, decided to bring Batman and Superman together.
Next: Iron Man 3