“Doth mother know, you weareth her drapes?”

The Avengers

The big crossover movie for Marvel.  The big stars are back, though Edward Norton is notably replaced by Mark Ruffalo (I think the only other film I had seen him in before this was 13 Going on 30) to play Bruce Banner; this casting sticks for the rest of the MCU.  Cobie Smulders joins as Agent Maria Hill, a new character.  The film is also notably directed by Joss Whedon (responsible for Firefly and its movie Serenity, along with Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin-off Angel.  He wrote several other MCU stories, as well as Toy Story, Atlantis: The Lost Empire and 2017’s Justice League).

This film quickly became iconic.  There are so many bits and scenes that remain popular and funny.  And the theme is totally awesome for this movie.

It opens with a deep voice announcing “the Tesseract has awakened;” reporting to a leader.  Their ally is handed a staff to lead an army against another world.  The universe will be handed to this leader and the humans will burn.  Next, we’re at S.H.I.E.L.D. facility in the midst of evacuation, with Director Fury arriving on the scene (with the first strains of the theme playing) to find out that the Tesseract is “behaving” as Selvig puts it.  Fury directs Agent Maria Hill to give priority to the mysterious Phase Two, because “until such time as the world ends, we will act as though it intends to spin on.”  It’s Barton, from his nest who points out to Fury that the Tesseract is a door to space, and doors open from both sides; meaning this energy spike is from somewhere in space.  Then the Tesseract creates a portal and Loki emerges, holding a scepter and wearing a manic grin [note the condition that Loki is in at this point; he’s not at peak form].  He soon attacks the agents, but finds that Barton has heart.  So he uses the scepter to turn Barton, while Fury takes the Tesseract.  Loki announces himself, proclaiming he is “burdened with glorious purpose.”  He comes with “glad tidings, of a world made free…of freedom.  Freedom is life’s great lie, once you accept that in your heart, you will know peace.”  He turns Selvig (who perks up at the mention of Asgard and realizes that Loki is Thor’s brother.)  Barton picks up that Fury is stalling, then shoots him in order to take the Tesseract.  Loki and his new followers leave and are almost free until Fury alerts Hill that Barton has turned. 

This starts a car chase, made more dangerous by the facility collapsing.  Fury gets out and takes a helicopter after Loki, who just shoots it out of the sky with his scepter.  Fury jumps out, Hill barely manages to keep from getting smashed and Coulson is with the last truckload of people.  Fury immediately begins coordinating S.H.I.E.L.D.; they are now at war.  Cue the title card and more of the theme.

We check in on Natasha as the Black Widow next, tied to a chair being interrogated.  Until a phone rings; it’s for her and she’s actually interrogating the men.  She has to end it quickly because Coulson informs her that Barton has been compromised.  Coulson holds while Natasha beats up the guys, even still attached to the chair, until she breaks it and uses it as a weapon.  In stocking feet and a dress.  This woman is badass.  She’s sent to India to collect the “big guy,” and no, it’s not Stark.  It’s Bruce Banner; Fury wants his help tracking the Tesseract, which is emitting levels of gamma radiation.

Meanwhile, Fury is meeting with a shadowy council, doing his best to make them understand that a threat has landed on Earth.  He has put together a response team; which one man retorts “you’re going to leave the fate of the world to a handful of freaks.”  Fury firmly believes that this group will be the response team the world needs with the right push.  When they call him out on sentimentality, Fury confirms that wars are won by soldiers.  So we’re back in the gym with Steve, getting his orders to save the world from Fury.  Steve recognizes the Tesseract as Hydra’s secret weapon.  Fury reveals that Howard Stark was the one to retrieve the cube from the ocean and was the first to make the argument that it is the key to unlimited, sustainable energy…hence SHIELD investigating it.  Steve retorts they should have left it in the ocean.

And speaking of energy…Stark is pulling his new building from the power grid, demonstrating self-sustaining clean energy and celebrating with Pepper.  Coulson interrupts their moment (or, 12% of  moment) and gives Tony homework with files on the Avengers Initiative and Tony recognizes the blue Tesseract cube, (which Howard had made notes on as we saw in Iron Man 2).  Coulson next brings Steve to Natasha and Bruce aboard an aircraft carrier.  Except it’s not a true aircraft carrier, it’s a helicarrier and it can fly, and disappear using reflective panels.  Steve gives Fury ten bucks as payoff on a bet about how the world has gotten stranger.

Meanwhile, Selvig is set up in a new lab and Loki is receiving orders [again note, Loki is not the one behind this attack and he still does not look like he’s at peak performance], trying to prove his worth to the alien spokesperson.  They “rescued” Loki from his defeat.  They care not for his desire to rule for they look to worlds that will be revealed by the Tesseract.  He warns Loki that if he fails “there will be no realm, no barren moon, no crevice where he can’t find you.  You think you know pain?  He will make you long for something as sweet as pain.”  Barton helps set up their next mission in Stuttgart, Germany…he’ll need an eyeball.  Loki attends a museum gala, then attacks the curator and uses a device to read his retina. Barton uses the data to enter a vault and steal iridium.  Loki enjoys the chaos, uses magic to transform his garb, and makes the crowd kneel outside.  “Is this not your natural state?  It is the unspoken truth of humanity that you crave subjugation.  The bright lure of freedom diminishes your life’s joy in a mad scramble for power, for identity.  You were made to be ruled.  In the end, you will always kneel.”  [This is the voice that delivers Shakespeare’s speeches with perfection.]  One old man rises and stands up to Loki, saying they will not kneel to men like Loki.  Just as Loki is about to make an example of the man (who is canonically a Holocaust survivor), Captain America shows up, quipping the last time he was in Germany and a man was standing above everyone else, they ended up disagreeing.  The two trade shots back and forth and are interrupted by Shoot to Thrill and the arrival of Iron Man.  He manages to knock down Loki, who surrenders, transforming his clothing once again to something subtler than a cape and a helmet with gold horns.

Natasha pilots the Quinjet to bring Tony, Steve, and Loki back to the helicarrier; they hit a storm.  Loki is a bit nervous, which Steve picks up on.  Loki is “not overly fond of what follows” lightning.  Cue Thor’s entrance into the Quinjet and grabbing Loki.  Tony immediately grabs the helmet to his suit, to which Steve cautions they need a plan of attack.  Tony has a plan, attack.  Natasha suggests that Steve sits that bout out; they’re basically gods, she cautions.  Steve retorts that there’s only one God, and he doesn’t look like that, hiking up a parachute.  Thor attempts to reason with Loki, demanding where the Tesseract is.  Loki quips that Thor should be glad because now he has a reason to be sent to Earth by Odin.  Thor is not in a gaming mood, he plainly states he thought Loki dead and yes, he mourned for him [you can make out the relief image of Loki’s helmet embossed on his vambraces later], as did their father.  Loki cuts Thor off; Odin is not his father, or did he not inform Thor of Loki’s true parentage.  It doesn’t matter to Thor; Loki is his brother; they were raised together, played together, fought together.  Loki once again cuts off his brother; all he remembers is being in the shadow of Thor’s greatness, blaming him for falling off the Bifrost [you can hear ravens briefly; a sign maybe Odin is listening?].  Loki chuckles when Thor claims the Earth is under his protection; “you’re doing a marvelous job of that.  The humans slaughter each other in droves, while you idly fret.  I mean to rule them.”  Yes, he believes himself to be above humans.  Thor gently chides Loki that he misses the point of ruling, “the throne would suit you ill.”  Loki lashes out at Thor again; he’s seen the truth of the Tesseract in his exile; which Thor picks up as someone is behind Loki’s scheme.  He demands who is behind the would-be king and begs Loki to come home.  For a second, Loki is serious, then grins; he’s sent the Tesseract away, he knows not where.  Thor urges Loki to listen, but his next statement is cut off when Iron Man tackles him.  Loki simply stands there, “I’m listening,” then watches the two face off below.

Tony demands Thor return Loki, at least until they get the Tesseract and then he’s all Asgard’s.  When Tony quips “tourist,” Thor throws Mjölnir.  The two start pummeling each other, though when Iron Man gets hit by Thor’s lightning, his suit is now at 400% power, interesting.  Steve drops in to break up the fight, but when he asks Thor to put down his hammer, Tony tries to warn him.  Thor puts down the hammer, on Captain America’s vibranium shield, which causes a blast wave and more damage to the forest.  See, it’s funny here when superheroes fight because they’re all men who are used to leading and others following, and they haven’t sat down and made peace yet (it’s later on, down the road that we dislike them fighting).  And it does answer the question of what would happen if Thor’s hammer met Steve’s shield.

They settle down and bring Loki in; Fury sticks him in an impenetrable glass capsule.  Our leads start discussing the real issue.  Thor informs them of Loki’s plan to lead the Chitauri army in return for the Tesseract, which Bruce surmises he needs to make another portal, but there are some science barriers he has to overcome, which Tony picks up on.  Yes, he became an expert on thermonuclear astrophysics overnight, because he’s that good.  Oh, and he plants something on Fury’s computer.  Bruce makes a crack about the crazy on Loki and Thor defends his brother.  Natasha points out “he killed 80 people in two days.”  Well…he’s adopted.  Tony bonds with Bruce over science, which just confuses everyone else.  Steve points out that Loki’s scepter works an awful lot like Hydra weapons and Fury confirms it is powered by the Tesseract and he’d like to know “how Loki used it to turn two of the sharpest men I know into his personal flying monkeys.”  Thor may not understand that reference, but Steve does.  He’s proud, cause there’s a lot of references he doesn’t get in this modern world.

Tony and Bruce work together well and Tony invites Bruce to Stark Industries in New York for research and development.  Bruce declines, since the last time he was in New York, he kind of broke Harlem.  Steve walks in when Tony pokes Bruce, reprimanding him for putting people at risk because he wants to see if Bruce will Hulk out.  No, this is Tony not being afraid of Bruce and recognizing that there is a man behind the monster.  Also, Bruce wouldn’t have come aboard if he couldn’t handle a few prods.  Tony continues to say that he doesn’t trust Fury; Bruce concurs that there is something fishy going on because why is S.H.I.E.L.D. in the energy field and why didn’t they bring Tony onboard earlier?  (And the blueberry bit is Robert Downey Jr keeping snacks on set and sharing).  It does make Steve suspicious, so he goes snooping.

Natasha goes to speak to Loki, hoping to get information out of him about Barton; she owes him a debt for making a different call when he was sent to kill her years ago.  Loki points out that she is bargaining for one man when the fate of the world hangs in the balance.  “Regimes fall every day, I tend not to weep over that, I’m Russian,” she quips.  Oh, but Loki knows about the Black Widow, thanks to Barton.  Loki won’t touch Barton, until he kills Natasha in every way she fears, and then, when he sees what he’s done, he’ll split his skull (and calls Natasha a word that Frigga would not approve of).  At his monster quip, Natasha infers that he means to release the Hulk.

Everyone ends up in the scepter room, Fury angry about Tony hacking his system.  Steve reveals that Phase 2 is S.H.I.E.L.D. uses the cube to make weapons, like Hydra did.  Fury blames that move on Thor.  S.H.I.E.L.D. learned that not only are we not alone, we are hopelessly and hilariously outgunned.  Thor argues back that S.H.I.E.L.D.’s work with the Tesseract is what drew attention; it is a signal to all the realms that the Earth is ready for a higher form of war.  Tony argues that a nuclear deterrent never works and Steve gets a crack in.  Thor quips that he thought humans were higher evolved than this bickering.  It devolves into everyone speaking over each other, though there is a crack in there about Captain America is really on a threat watchlist?  Steve and Tony really rub each other wrong; Steve quips that they’ll go around when Tony puts on the suit, because under that suit, what is Tony.  He retorts he’s a genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist.  Thor watches this and chuckles; “you people are so petty.  And tiny.”  Then attention turns to Bruce when he calls Fury out on the capsule as a way to kill the Hulk if necessary.  But no one can; Bruce has tried (and watch everyone’s faces react).  He got really low once and wanted to end everything.  The “other guy” spit out the bullet.  As he gets worked up, he grabs the scepter.  When Steve calls him on it, he puts it down.  Just as they get a location on the Tesseract, there is an explosion.

While the heroes were fighting, Barton leads a team against the Helicarrier, locked in on the scepter.  Now Tony complies when Steve tells him to put on the suit.  Barton knocks out of the helicarrier’s engines.  Tony and Steve go to fix that, Steve keeping bad guys off of Tony’s tail while Tony does repairs midflight.  The explosion sent Natasha, Bruce, and Thor through the floor.  Bruce Hulks out near Natasha and chases her around the lower levels.  Thor tackles the Hulk and gets some hits in with Mjölnir.  Fury sends a pilot as a distraction before the Hulk can tear the carrier apart.  It works, for a minute, but the shots make the target angry and Hulk leaps at the plane.  He eventually pulls the pilot out and flings him away (chute opening safely) and the plane crashes, flinging the Hulk another direction.  Thor then goes to confront Loki, who uses his duplicating skill to trick his brother.  “Are you ever not going to fall for that?”  Loki sends Thor hurtling towards the ground in the capsule.  Barton is aboard and one of his arrows takes down S.H.I.E.L.D.’s system and the helicarrier begins to fall to the earth as well.  Fury sends Natasha after Barton, then directs someone to turn the helicarrier around so they’re over water.  They protest that navigation is down.  “Is the sun coming up?  Then put it on the left [proving that sometimes, the old ways are still best.]”  Clint and Natasha know each other’s moves well enough to dodge some.  They’re at an impasse until Natasha bites Barton, flips over him, and runs him into a pipe.  And a second time for good measure.

Coulson goes after Loki, but he uses his duplication again and stabs Coulson from behind.  Coulson predicts Loki will lose.  Fury finds Coulson as his associate argues about his belief in the team.  Loki has escaped with the scepter, though Barton is now onboard.  Steve and Tony managed to work together, Tony getting the last guy shooting who had Steve pinned down (after pinging around the engine for a minute like a pin ball).  Fury throws bloody Captain America trading cards at the ones left.  Fury admits that yes, an arsenal was in the works, but he was betting on the Avengers Initiative, to fight the battles that humans couldn’t.  But, it’s obvious now that the team couldn’t get along; maybe his idea was an old-fashioned notion.

Steve and Tony visit where Coulson died, Tony remarking that the man was an idiot for not waiting for back-up; he was obviously no match for Loki.  Neither of them trust Fury and come to the point that Loki was making this battle personal.  He’s a diva, Tony points out, and wants his name in lights.  Which means, he’s going after Stark’s tower.  He repairs his suit, Steve finds the suit Coulson designed, Natasha speaks to Clint and they agree to accompany Steve as they steal a Quinjet.  A security guard finds Bruce and gives him some words of wisdom. 

Everyone begins to make their way to Stark Tower, where Erik is set up to make another portal with the Tesseract.  Tony arrives first and trades barbs with Loki, pointing out that he managed to piss off the Avengers, “Earth’s mightiest heroes and all that.”  Made up of a demi-god, a super solider, a man with breath-taking anger management issues, and a couple master assassins.  Loki quips, “I have an Army.”  Tony comes back with “we have a Hulk,” and there is no version where Loki will come out on top, because even if they can’t protect the Earth, they will make damn sure they’ll avenge it.  Loki attempts to control Tony, but his reactor protects him, so Loki chucks him out the window.  Tony’s newest suit manages to catch up with him before he goes splat.

Selvig gets the portal open and the Chitauri army begins to fly through.  Thor arrives in his full armor and trades strikes with Loki.  After Loki fires at the Quinjet, Thor tries once more to reason with his brother, pointing out the madness going on around them.  Loki states it’s too late to stop them.   Thor pleads that they can stop it, together.  We think for a minute Loki will join his brother; instead, he stabs him, murmuring sentiment.  Thor ups the ante and throws Loki around, who eventually rolls off the tower and into his army.

When Steve, Natasha, and Clint crash, they immediately set to helping the civilians fleeing the scene.  Steve tries to give orders to the police, who question who he is until he smacks down a few aliens.  Natasha and Clint fall into helping each other, Natasha quipping about Budapest.  She and Clint remember that very differently, he cracks.  Steve soon joins them again, along with Thor and Bruce arrives.  Tony is pleased and tells Bruce to suit up, he’s bringing the party to them, meaning a whale-like creature.  Natasha is not sure how that’s a party, but they gear up.  Steve tells Bruce it may be time to get angry, to Hulk out.  Bruce’s secret is actually that he’s always angry, to which he transforms and punches the whale (and the theme gears up).  Our heroes circle up (iconic image) as the Chitauri yell at them.  Tony tells Cap to give the orders.  Thor is use bottleneck the portal, use lightning,  Tony is on perimeter; turn it back or turn it to ash.  Barton is up high, calling out patterns; Tony gives him a lift.  Steve and Natasha will remain on the ground, keeping fighting on them.  And Hulk…smash.  Which he does with glee.

Natasha eventually figures they need to close the portal, and has Steve give her a boost up so she can commandeer a ride from a Chitauri.  Selvig had been hit with a blast at some point and now realizes that there is a safeguard he built in.  You can close the portal with the scepter.  Hulk leaps into Stark Tower to confront Loki.  “Enough!” Loki shouts, calling Hulk a dull creature.  “I am a god, and I will not be bullied…”  Hulk grabs Loki and smashes him several times into the floor.  Loki wheezes from the crater and Hulk calls him “puny god.”  [Just about the funniest scene in the film.]  Everyone fights together (there’s a great tracking shot where we see everyone and all the action in one continuous shot), Steve and Thor both throwing and retrieving their weapons, Hulk even helping Thor – though he punches him as payback for the carrier fight.  Clint calls out patterns to Tony. 

In the meantime, the S.H.I.E.L.D. Council calls Fury and order him to release a nuclear bomb on New York City in order to stop the army.  Fury recognizes that “the Council has made a decision, but given that it’s a stupid-ass decision, I’ve elected to ignore it.”  [One of the best lines from the film].  He won’t release a bomb until he’s sure that the Avengers can’t handle it.  The Council goes behind his back and orders a pilot to takeover.  Fury manages to stop that plane, but not the back up.  He calls Tony to tell him on the incoming nuke.  Tony breaks away and flies as fast as he can to intercept it and shoots straight into the portal.  As he does that, the rest of the team is starting to fray.  Clint has to leap off the roof before he’s blown up, crashing into a window and landing painfully on his quiver.  Steve is shot a few times and even Thor is lagging a bit.  The Hulk is overwhelmed by fire, then Natasha says she can close the portal.  Tony has them wait long enough to take the nuke through.  As he enters space, his suit shuts down and he begins falling.  He’s awake long enough to see the missile hit and the ship explode.  Back in the city, the army falls down.  When the team on the ground can see the explosion, Steve makes the call for Natasha to close the portal.  Iron Man falls through at the last second, free from the explosion that gets trapped in space.  Agents cheer from the carrier, though Fury is downturned, knowing what it cost to rid the city of the nuke. 

The Avengers are happy to see Iron Man, but Thor quickly realizes he’s not slowing down his fall.  He swings his hammer, ready to retrieve his teammate, but Hulk catches him from midair.  He lays him down, but Tony is not breathing, as far as they can tell in the suit, whose reactor is growing dim.  Hulk yells and that startles Tony awake.  He’s exhausted and tells everyone they should try shawarma.  Well, first, they have to deal with something.  Loki has crawled out of the crater and asks Tony for that drink he offered earlier, while the whole team is standing around him, Clint’s arrow aimed directly at him.

The team does have to break apart; Thor takes Loki in a gag back to Asgard with the Tesseract.  Bruce accompanies Tony.  Natasha and Clint leave together.  Steve rides away on his bike.  Fury speaks to the Council, informing them that no, he’s not tracking the team’s whereabouts; they’ve earned a leave of absence.  And while that was not his call to make, he didn’t argue with the god who did.  Fury speaks to Maria Hill afterwards, that he trusts them to return because at some point, they’ll need them.  We see Tony working on new plans for the tower (and there are specialized floors laid out for each team member) and as the camera pans away, the only letter left out of Stark is the “A.”

There are two credit scenes; the first being a report on the invasion.  The reporter tells his ruler that to challenge the unruly humans is to court death.  A purple face turns towards the screen (that now all audiences know is Thanos, but only those who read the comics knew when the film first came out).  The second scene is simply the team eating shawarma silently after the battle; everyone exhausted [and trying not to laugh.  And Chris Evans’ hand is in front of his face to hide a beard he grew for his next role].

I will take a minute to say that the theme is very cool, with the strings keeping a rhythm that pushes the tempo a little, building excitement.  Then there’s a fanfare that’s perfect for a superhero movie.  Then it repeats a little more sedately which works well for the background of scenes.  It’s quickly become iconic; we hear this and know that heroes are banding together.  It’s positive.  It’s a full orchestra score compared to the electric guitar heavy Iron Man theme, or the brass fanfare of Captain America.

And let’s not forget the bloopers!  They play the theme from Smokey and the Bandit due to a crack from Robert Downey Jr.  It’s four minutes of fun I’ll play if I need something “fluffy” or funny.  Actors crack up and can’t set props down, or get a parachute on.  Cobie is a little more dramatic about Coulson’s death and Tom Hiddleston is dead on with an Alan Rickman impersonation (there’s a twinge of sadness knowing that beloved actor has passed now).  He also cracks up when he’s supposed to be moaning on the floor and even director Joss Whedon gets in on the argument, yelling for everyone to stop fighting.  Chris Hemsworth occasionally struggles to catch his hammer; Chris Evans catches his shield and keeps going.  Also, check out Tom Hiddleston’s appearance at Comic Con the following year as Loki, mimicking his speech from the movie.  The crowd goes nuts and Tom basks in it.  They chant “Loki!  Loki!  Loki!” but go silent when he puts his finger to his lips.  At the end, he has the crowd say his name, which they gladly do.  He now has his army.  The fact that he gets the entire Hall H (one of the bigger halls at the convention from what I’ve heard) to cheer for the villain…it’s a testament to the actor.  It is amazing and this is why we love him!

This film has just become iconic.  It’s one of the major crossovers in cinema, pulling superheroes that had their own films into one.  Black Widow eventually got her own movie and Hawkeye got his own show (neither of which I have seen yet).  As opposed to say X-Men that was always written as a team.  There wasn’t much development of some major characters on an individual basis.  It’s well written in the way that we remember a lot of the dialogue from the film.  The action is engaging and everyone seemed to get their moment.  True, the MCU only gets bigger from here, but I do recall it being a big deal when it came out and we shouldn’t forget that.  After this film released, there was so much speculation on what direction the universe would go (and fans went wild!)  It’s definitely a movie I recommend.

Up Next: Iron Man 3

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