The Big Damn MCU Rewatch: The Avengers (2012)
The Avengers was the first film of the MCU franchise I watched, and it’s always going to have a special place in my heart. My first fanfiction in the fandom (Through A Glass Darkly) was written following a bizarrely vivid dream of being chased around New York by aliens and crawling through ducts with a very impatient Hawkeye. (Damn subconscious couldn’t think of anything better to do with him???)
Of course, it wasn’t only me who loved The Avengers. The highest-grossing film of 2012, it made $1.5 billion off a $220 million budget and at the beginning of 2019, is still the 6th highest grossing film of all time. It set a whole bunch of box office records and was nominated for any number of awards.
What the movie did best was pick up the disparate threads and characters the previous five movies in Phase 1 had introduced and bring them all together. Director Joss Whedon envisioned the team-up as being like The Dirty Dozen and it works so well because we’ve met almost all the characters before. Only Maria Hill is really new, and of course Mark Ruffalo replaced Edward Norton as Bruce Banner, but for all the other characters we get exactly what we expect, from Erik Selvigg through to Tony Stark. Some characters who were enigmatic to this point are more fleshed out, in particular Nick Fury, Natasha Romanoff and Clint Barton, who only had a brief cameo in Thor.
All the best bits from the previous movies come together in Avengers; the humour and snark of Iron Man (one liners! So many one-liners!), the gravitas of Thor, and the… well, the Hulk Smash of The Incredible Hulk. (Bear with me. There wasn’t a lot to like about The Incredible Hulk). Everything was turned up to 11 on the dial, most particularly Loki, who went from anti-hero to villain here. It’s been confirmed since that Loki was under the control of the Mindstone and Thanos. Looking back on the argument scene in the lab, it’s fascinating to see that the sceptre containing the Mindstone is not only present, but brought into central focus of the camera as the argument reaches its height. Thor’s comment about humans being ‘petty and tiny’ is OOC, and Tony rubs his head like his brain hurts. Bruce picks up the sceptre, even. Was the Mindstone ‘programmed’ by Thanos to cause chaos in all who came into contact with it? It seems obvious in hindsight that’s exactly what was going on.
Of course, this is the moment everything kicks off. Barton sets off the explosion on the Helicarrier, Bruce Hulks out and everything goes horribly, horribly wrong for a team that hasn’t even come together yet, culminating in Coulson’s death, Loki’s escape and Thor and Hulk vanishing. With only Steve, Tony, Natasha and an in-shock Barton left, what’s left have to pull together and go down to stop Loki.
Everything about The Avengers is perfection, from Alan Silvestri’s spectacular score to the way the characters riff off each other, building slowly from a disparate bunch of loners with very different agendas to a team with one goal; save the world. The final battle might be the most spectacular one ever seen on screen up to that point. Industrial Light and Magic pulled off what genuinely looked like CGI magic, especially in 3D as the aerial fight tore at high speed through Manhattan’s concrete canyons. It was just breathtaking. I know I came out of the cinema feeling exhausted from the sheer adrenaline rush. And I know I’m looking forward to the replay/reboot it looks as though we’re going to see in Avengers: Endgame more than I know how to say.
Favourite moment: Clint shooting Loki with the exploding arrow. Don’t underestimate Hawkeye, Loki. Also Nat and Clint’s fight; two pure humans in peak condition who know each other’s moves, going at it hammer and tongs.
Kieran says it’s when the Helicarrier lifts up out of the water and Bruce says “Oh no, this is much worse.”
Connor says it’s when Hulk whips Loki around and into the floor multiple times before walking off muttering “Puny god.”
Best one-liner: Seriously? ONE? No way. I can’t choose.
“There’s only one God, ma’am, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that.”
“I have a plan. Attack.”
“Shakespeare in the Park? Doth mother know you weareth her drapes?”
“We have a Hulk.”
“You and I remember Budapest very differently.”
“I recognize that the council has made a decision, but given that it’s a stupid-ass decision, I’ve elected to ignore it.”
“Of the people in this room, which one is A - wearing a spangly outfit and B - not of use?”
“That man is playing Galaga” (that’s Kieran’s favourite)
“I don’t see how that’s a party.” (Connor’s favourite)
Least favourite moment: Clint’s pain after Natasha re-calibrates him. His guilt. So much angst.
Coulson dying, and then Fury using the bloodied trading cards to guilt Steve. It’s an amazing Black Moment.
Overall star rating: 10/10. I still think The Avengers is easily the best ensemble superhero movie ever made, and there simple truth is that without that movie, I wouldn’t be here in the fandom. Wouldn’t you miss me?