Day Six: 6/19 down!
2012 changed everything for Marvel. The end of Phase One was upon us. Four years of Marvel movies, over half a decade in the making. The world would be introduced to its first full-fledged crossover team movie event. The Avengers had arrived. It's hard to separate the importance of this film from its actual level of quality and to be honest that's not really why we are here, so let's talk about wether or not we enjoyed The Avengers.
Hint: We did.
Javier: The scene where the Hulk punches the Chitauri Leviathan.
Antonio: I don't even know If I can pick one. To be honest, to me this is a film of "moments". Every little interaction is what makes this so much more than the films prior. So fuck it, here's a list, because with a film this big you really can't just pick one moment:
1. Cap's punching bag montage. Such a great way to establish Steve's place in modern times, gives us just enough information without taking time away from the rest of the film, and it's one of my favorite scenes visually in the entire film.
2. The Helicarrier take-off, I mean, COME-ON.
3. This shot.
4. That look of concern Bruce gives Natasha before fully transforming into The Hulk. It add's so much depth to Bruce, and informs the scene incredibly well.
5. That fantastic moment where The Hulk can't lift Mjolnir. Damn straight, Marvel. The fact that Marvel remains dedicated to upholding the rules of the magic in its universe makes me very happy.
6. Captain America shot-calling for the team. Specifically the last line...
7. The bonkers tracking shot that culminates in this shot. Foreshadowing? Hint: YUP.
There are so many bonkers moments and I'm sure Javier will have some too (I'll update the post with his thoughts later as we weren't able to watch this one in unison). I tried to stay away from some of the more commonly remembered moments which is hard as almost every other scene is iconic.
Nick Fury (Portrayed by Samuel L Jackson): "I recognize the council has made a decision, but given that it's a stupid-ass decision, I've elected to ignore it.
Bruce Banner (Portrayed by Mark Ruffalo): "That's my secret Cap, I'm always angry."
Avenger's has one primary threat: Loki. While he acts mainly out of his own interest he does have some help, most notably in the form of a mind-controlled Erik Selvig and Clint Barton. In addition to his zombie-lackeys he also has the Chitauri, an alien-army of savage warriors who operate through a shared hive-mind operated from their command ships. The Chitauri represent the first real introduction to Marvel's larger cosmic theater, which aside from the Magical Nine Realms of Asgard, we have seen very little of.
Let's see how these baddies stack up...
Javier: Loki is better in this than he was in Thor mainly because he's given moments for his character to shine and even have him do some really cool evil stuff.
Antonio: I definitely think Loki shines a bit more here than he did in Thor. i love how dramatic his plan for world domination is, it's very irrational which is fitting for a deranged super-villain. His costume is at possibly it's best and its fluctuation from scene to scene adds a lot to the visual language of the character. It's not even disappointing that he doesn't have some grand final fight as it's not really in his nature. The ego-leads to defeat moment for him is well earned and very fitting, for as Coulson said he lacks "Conviction". Also it may be cliche but the entire Art-Gala scene is fantastic and Hiddleston just OWN's his performance for every second of it.
Javier: They're some cool alien dudes and one of the first time we see an army of aliens.
Antonio: The Chitauri may just be canon fodder for the final battle, but they are superb canon fodder. Never have we seen any of these characters take on anything of this magnitude, Thor, Iron Man and Cap have all faced down armies but nothing as massive as the Chitauri Leviathans. Add that to the clever visual nods to their true leader and the wonderfully creepy "Other" portrayed by David Benioff and you have a very fun alien-army.
Final Ranking: 7.5
This film served so many different purposes: to some it was Marvel making good on a promise made four years prior. To others it was a fantastic entry point into a wonderful world of magic and super-powers. It was the end of Phase One but the beginning of a much-MUCH larger Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Alright lets go...
1. The entire film is a loose adaptation of the first issue of The Avengers released in 1963, where Loki arrives on Midgard in an attempt to take over the world.
2. In the comics the original line-up of The Avengers was: Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk, Ant Man and The Wasp. Captain America didn't join the team until issue 4 released a year later, at that point The Hulk had already left and Ant Man had changed his name to Giant Man.
3. The film is an amalgam of Avengers #1, #4 and The Ultimates comics where Captain America is a founding member after being thawed out by SHIELD as opposed to being discovered by the Avengers.
4. This is referenced in the film, the SHIELD Helicarrier featured in the film is #64, referencing 1964 which is when Avengers #4 was published.
5. Clint Barton and Natasha Romanov being agents of SHIELD are also ideas taken from the Ultimates, Hawkeye's costume is almost identical to his Ultimate counterpart designed by Bryan Hitch.
6. Edward Norton was re-casted as Bruce Banner, replaced by Mark Ruffalo after Norton walked away due to creative differences over The Incredible Hulk film.
7. Clint Barton being possessed by Loki is a massive point of contention among fans, and while I wont defend it, I will say, Hawkeye was first introduced as a villain in the comics before he reformed and joined The Avengers. Black Widow was also introduced as a villain in the Iron Man comics.
8. This is the first on-screen appearance of the SHIELD Helicarrier and with it, a more robust look into SHIELD's operations.
9. SHIELD's Helicarrier uses reflective panels to remain invisible to public below. The science on this may not be sound.
10. The SHIELD agents in the film wear a blue and black variation of their blue and white suits from the comics. Except for Nick Fury who wears his black trench coat inspired by the Ultimates comics.
11. Thor manages to return to Midgard somehow despite the destruction of the Bifrost, Loki remarks on this, asking what dark magic he had to dip into to make this reunion possible.
12. Loki reveals that after his plummet into the abyss he wound up in deep space, where he met The Other and his mysterious master (Thanos) who armed him with the powerful Scepter and an army of Chitauri all with the interest of reclaiming the Tesseract.
13. The Chitauri are named for an alien race in the first arc of The Ultimates, in the comics they were a proxy for The Skrulls. Marvel did not have the rights to the Skrulls at the time so they chose to reinvent The Chitauri as a new alien race, they have since appeared in normal 616 continuity, appearing closer to their MCU Counterparts.
14. The Tesseract is used to open a portal in time and space, seemingly confirming it as The Space Stone. (Though this is still up for debate).
15. Loki attempts to use The Scepter (the Mind Stone) to corrupt Tony but is seemingly rebuffed by Tony's arc reactor.
16. Tony reveals the newly built Stark Tower in the beginning of the film, while this is a mainstay in the comics for Stark Industries, it's on-screen debut is short lived as it is largely trashed during this film.
17. However, in it's trashing, only the "A" is left on its signature massive neon sign, hinting at its repurposing to become The Avengers Tower, one of the primary homes for The Avengers, introduced in The New Avengers comics.
18. Tony also unveils his new Mark 7 suit, which uses a scanner to read a wrist band in order to lock onto Tony's location, this compulsory technology hints at some big advancements coming for Tony.
19. Tony also is the only Avenger to witness the true size of the Chitauri war-machine, which both informs his PTSD later on as well as his nightmares of the future.
20. War-Machine is strangely absent despite the obvious city-wide threat, he's probably on a mission for the US Government but still!
21. Maria Hill is introduced as Nick Fury's second in command, in the comics she has a slightly more antagonistic role as Fury's successor as Director of SHIELD.
22. Captain America's new costume is designed by Phil Coulson, who grew up idolizing cap, the costume is most-likely based more on the USO Promotional materials, leading to its less utilitarian look.
23. Thor's sports a sleeveless look for part of the film, much more akin to his classic comics appearance. Still no helmet though...
24. The Hulk cannot lift Mjolnir!
25. Iron Man utilizes the laser cartridges he displayed in the end of Iron Man 2 as he attempts to fix the Helicarrier's damaged turbine. He also plays "Shoot To Thrill" by AC/DC upon his arrival in Berlin, another reference to Iron Man 2.
26. The files Coulson delivers to Tony contain footage of The Destroyer fight from Thor, various news footage from The Incredible Hulk as well as historical footage of HYDRA using the tesseract-powered weapons and SHIELD footage of Captain America being unfrozen.
27. The gun Coulson uses as he dies is based off of The Destroyer, it operates similar to his face-laser.
28. Bruce reveals later in the film that he is secretly "Always Angry" this is a technique assumably learned at the end of The Incredible Hulk, where we see him willingly instigate a transformation.
29. When the Chitauri invasion begins, Loki informs there "There is only...The War." While he is most likely referring to the present conflict, it's interesting to think about that in broader strokes. Earlier in the film Thor tells Nick Fury that their use of the Tesseract invites other-wordly threats as it implies earth is ready for "a higher form of war". Loki also has been taught the secrets of the Tesseract by Thanos, he says as much early in the film. He knows the scepter and cube are Infinity Stones, so whats to say he's not referring to the grander Infinity War that is yet to come.
30. In the end credit scene, The Other informs his master of Earth becoming a potential threat, he goes so far as to say "To challenge them, is to court death", to which Thanos turns to the camera and cracks a wide grin. This is a direct reference to Thanos' very literally attempts to romance Lady Death in the Infinity Gauntlet comics.
31. We have now seen two Infinity Stones on screen, though still not identified by name or power. At the end of the film, the Scepter is in SHIELD Custody, and The Tesseract is being taken to the OdinVault.
Javier: The Avengers is a really fun movie and has a lot of good moments but I feel like there was still something missing. It's an iconic movie but in my opinion it's not perfect.
The Avengers is almost more than just a movie, it was a pop-culture event, and to see that Marvel will effectively top that in less than two-weeks from now is insane to me. The Avengers may have it's flaws, but it makes up for those in spades with pure unadulterated joy. Serving as both an introduction for new fans and a sequel for long-timer fans, reintroducing us to an arguably more realized version of The Hulk and showing us our heroes united for the first time on-screen. It's still hard to believe Marvel managed to even make this movie, let alone make it GOOD. What's even more absurd is it's not even their best, no, in my opinion, that was still to come. An absolutely stellar end to Phase-One.
Final Score: 8
After the Credits:
With the end of Phase One, Marvel introduced another new concept: The Mid Credits Scene. Almost every Marvel movie moving forward had two scenes for fans to wait to see. While the Mid-Credit Scene served as the "teaser" scene, the end credit's scene became a place for a final gag or joke moment. While this isn't entirely consistent, it is more or less the pattern from here on out.
Javier: Ok ...okay...this scene is amazing and it still holds up today. Seeing Thanos on screen for the first time is just iconic.
Antonio: Arguably the most talked about ACS since the Iron Man tag. The Thanos reveal is still absolutely bonkers to me. For non-comic fans this was a huge gamble on Marvel's part but one that was obviously paid off. I still remember the amount of visceral excitement in the theater when that bumpy chin was revealed. While his look may have changed since then, this scene still has so much weight, both as a look to the future and a promise for a much wider exploration of the Marvel Universe.
The Schwarma scene is also fun and fittingly chill tag to end on before clearing the theater.
Final Score: 10/10
Sorry again about the late postings guys! Will try to get on a better schedule for these! That does it for Phase One! Tonight we begin Phase Two, with the first Marvel Film of the next era of the MCU: Iron Man 3 (2013)
See you all tomorrow!
To challenge them is
to court Grodd.