When Loki appears in a SHIELD facility and steals the Tesseract, Nick Fury decides its time to mobilise the Avengers. But bringing together a group of heroes is quite different from creating a team and with an alien invasion imminent, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye and The Hulk will need to find a way to work together if they’re to save the world.
The problem I have with “Avengers Assemble” [initially I hated the UK-necessitated alternative title but now I think it fits better within the overall MCU story than simply “The Avengers”] is that the moment I try to write about it (its release preceded the blog by nearly a year and a half) I just want to watch it again. While the five previous films of the MCU each had their highs and lows, Joss Whedon’s unprecedented crossover team-up retroactively improves all of them, polishing and reveling in each hero’s unique personalities and proclivities and then pitching them against each other to squabble and jostle for dominance before being given the necessary shock to come together as one of the greatest superhero fighting forces ever assembled on screen.
Sure, there are nits I could pick, but I just don’t want to. It’s a perfect gem of a movie, a stone of infinite entertainment and industry-changing achievement. I first saw it in a big cinema with a big group of friends (we filled a whole row) on opening night, the 8pm prime time showing, with a capacity audience and I’ve never felt anything like it before or since. Every single beat of the script hit its mark, the audience buzz rising with each and every flourish. Loki in Germany, the battle in the forest, the helicarrier attack, Hulk sucker-punching Thor, Hulk sucker-slamming Loki, that ‘hero shot’ of the six Avengers in New York. The advantage Whedon had as writer and director is that all the set-up had been done in the previous five films and he exploits it to the max with a script which turns every hero and villain up to 11 and – in Loki’s case up to 12 on the old scenery chew-o-meter.
It set a bar so high that every studio – including Marvel – has been desperately trying to match since, with varying degrees of success but whatever the downstream effects, it’s an undeniable, crowd-pleasing, punch-the-air feel-good triumph of writing, action and character. In a way, it was the last great hurrah of a more innocent superhero movie age. Predating the vicious, preemptive didactic tribalism that seems to blight every single Marvel/ DC release nowadays, it may yet be looked back on as the pinnacle of the entire genre.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a hankering for some Shawarma.
Of course, we have the return of the Tesseract (or Space Stone) but technically, we get two Infinity Stones in this movie, even though we don’t know it yet. I’m not entirely convinced Marvel knew it either, as it’s fairly explicitly stated that the sceptre and the Tesseract are one and the same thanks to Selvig’s ‘You can’t protect against yourself’ line.
Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), The Other (Alexis Denisof)
Bruce Banner/ The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). Whatever Edward Norton would’ve brought to the party, Ruffalo is so instantly at home in the role that birtually nobody spent any time then or since wondering that.
Stan’s a doubtful chess player poo-pooing the idea of superheroes in New York which, while amusing, makes zero sense given the ample evidence scattered all over Manhattan.
Mid-credits, the Other informs his master of Loki’s defeat, noting that to challenge the Avengers is to court death, prompting some purple guy to smile. *SPOILER* It’s THANOS!
Robert Downey Jr kept food hidden all over the lab set. In the movie, that’s his actual snacks he’s offering the other cast members. It wasn’t scripted, he was just hungry.