Otherwise known as “The Avengers” everywhere else in the world, Avengers Assemble sees the first “Marvel Team Up” film that nobody was quite sure if it would work… until it cracked a billion at the box office! While Iron Man obviously kicked the MCU off, it was this film that sold both fans and studios on the idea that a shared universe of visual media could not only be pulled off, but if done right can be pretty damn lucrative, and trust me: this was done right! So let’s take a look at the first Avengers film, shall we?
When Thor’s evil brother Loki gains access to the unlimited power of the energy cube called the Tesseract, Nick Fury, director of S.H.I.E.L.D., initiates a superhero recruitment effort to defeat the unprecedented threat to Earth. Joining Fury’s “Avengers” are Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk, Thor, the Black Widow and Hawkeye.
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Loki having fun pointing his staff at old German men …. I was going to put “oo-er”, but… that doesn’t really work.
The Avengers succeeds due to two reasons: a fantastic cast and some really great and exciting action scenes (sadly the director of which has turned out to not be a very unpleasant man, but ah well… not going hold that against the cast and crew of the film…) Robert Downey Jr. is still the focus of a lot of the attention as Tony Stark / Iron Man but thankfully that is entirely in his character, and he’s great at it! Chris Evans’ Captain America, Chris Hemsworth’s Thor and Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner / Hulk do all get plenty of screen time though, and their various interactions are great: Cap and Stark arguing due to completely different philosophies on life, Thor getting rubbed the wrong way due to his lack of knowledge on Earthly affairs, and Stark trying to poke and prod Banner out of curiosity and eventually to motivate him to not be afraid of his power. This was Ruffalo’s first appearance in the role and he nails it, both funny and vulnerable, a really good take on the character. Then there’s Tom Hiddleston as Loki, once again perfectly nailing the snide and sarcastic villain role, and again his scenes with the Avengers themselves are all so well written and enjoyable.
The crazy thing about this ensemble is that there are many other cast members to mention! Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury is… well, Samuel L. Jackson, but that plays well in the role he has and he has the kind of presence to be the man who pulls all these people together. Scarlett Johansson is back as Black Widow, which given she is the only female member of the main cast shows how far the MCU has come on that from in the last decade, and she does a good job as “bad-ass secret agent”, her interaction with Banner / Hulk are fun as well. Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton / Hawkeye is good but sadly he does spend a lot of the film as a mind controlled zombie, but hey-ho, and finally we get more of Clark Gregg as SHIELD Agent Phil Coulson and Stellan Skarsgard back as Erik Selvig to continue the cliffhanger from Thor. It also features Cobie Smulders as high ranking SHIELD member Maria Hill, though beyond an exciting chase at the start of the film her role is limited.
Finally! A picture of Agent Coulson… in the MCU film section of the blog. He’s popped up plenty of times elsewhere…
Speaking of the start of the film: here’s a quick sum up of the plot! Loki takes the tesseract, mind-controls a bunch of people (including Hawkeye), causes some trouble as he gathers equipment to open a portal and let some alien allies invade, and then gets caught by a combination of Iron Man, Captain America and Thor. I still love a moment where Thor and Loki are arguing on a cliff and Thor is tackled away mid-sentence by Iron Man (who at this point doesn’t know if he’s friend or foe) and Loki just acts like he was waiting for the rest of the conversation to happen. After a fun mini-battle everyone joins up on Nick Fury’s helicarrier where Bruce Banner and Black Widow are also based and soon it comes under attack by the people who are under Loki’s influence. Banner Hulks up, Thor is outsmarted and thrown to the Earth and Agent Coulson is killed (… for now, if you count Agents of SHIELD…) Coulson’s death becomes the catalyst to force the team to work together, which is good because Loki successful opens up a portal above New York and lets a whole army of Chitauri warriors invade.
This leads to the now famous battle sequence where the Avengers of Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Thor, Black Widow and a now-free Hawkeye join up to take on Loki and his alien army. There are some properly stunning, long-cut action sequences here that still blow me away, and this was my first time watching the 4K release and frankly the stunning picture quality only adds to it. Loki gets smashed into the floor repeatedly by Hulk in the all-time classic “puny God” scene and Black Widow eventually closes the portal while Iron Man takes out the Chitauri’s main ship to boot, the experience of being in space briefly not one he’ll soon forget. Everyone goes their separate ways and we get a post credit sequence where we see Thanos for the first time, smiling at the idea of “courting death” by attacking Earth (which I assume was a reference to Thanos’ classic comic storyline where he was in love with the personification of Death itself, but that was never carried over into his live action appearances…)
All in all it’s amazing how quickly the 2+ hours fly by…
Nick Fury safe in the knowledge that his sort-of background plan he’s had for like, 15 years at this point has paid off.
Not much! I know some people say Hawkeye should’ve had more of a presence in the film (though I think that’s mainly Renner himself…) but if anything his scene with old friend Black Widow, talking about not being in control of your actions and trying to redeem yourself after doing bad things added a lot to both his and Widow’s characters, so… *shrugs*. Also retrospectively Nick Fury’s excuse for using the Tesseract to build weapons is that Thor and Loki appearing “showed SHIELD that there other races out there and they were more powerful than us” doesn’t really work now Captain Marvel has been inserted into the 1990s era of the MCU, complete with a young Nick Fury. Ah well, not the end of the world…
Otherwise the only other complaint you could have is if you don’t like this kind of super hero, quippy and action-y film, but in that case… why are you watching it?
I mean, I had to end with this shot, didn’t I?
The Avengers (or Avengers Assemble, if you will… which sadly I do have to do for the most part…) is not only a perfect example of an ensemble cast and great example of well shot spectacle but also manages to actually develop a lot of the titular heroes as well, plus by using Hiddleston’s Loki they also avoided the villain problem that will soon plague a lot of the MCU movies. In other words, in the case of The Avengers, it may be a case of the first being the best…