I’m going to start by saying that “The Avengers” is still, to this day, my favorite all-time MCU movie, and it’s not even close. Never before had we seen such a beautiful synergy of action, drama, and comedy all in one – not to mention it was the first blockbuster to feature a loaded cast of actors portraying some of the most beloved superhero characters everyone grew up idolizing ever since they first learned what a comic book even was.
After the MCU set the tone with standalone films for guys like Iron Man (who actually received two by this time), the Hulk (even though this is the first time we see Mark Ruffalo’s portrayal), Thor, and Captain America, they truly broke ground with this one in 2012. It was quite the leap for the MCU, as nobody had ever attempted a movie like this before, and they absolutely NAILED IT.
The movie starts off with who is still the best Marvel villain, Loki, speaking with “The Other,” the leader of an obscure alien race called the Chitauri. In exchange for Loki providing him with the Tesseract, the alien leader promises to provide the Asgardian A-hole with an army to help him take over Earth.
Next we cut back to Earth, to a remote S.H.I.E.L.D. research facility, where Dr. Erik Selvig – of “Thor” fame – is working on some type of project involving the Tesseract (more on that in a bit). We also see the legendary SLJ as Nick Fury, along with his right-hand woman Maria Hill and good ole Hawkeye (aka Clint Barton) holding down the fort. We also see his right-hand man Phil Coulson (before, well…we’ll get to that in a bit).
Suddenly, the Tesseract starts acting all funky, and some sort of portal starts to break open. Then all hell breaks loose. Out comes Loki, who proceeds to go H.A.M. on various bystanding S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. He also uses his scepter to take over both Hawkeye’s and Dr. Selvig’s mind, forcing them to be under his complete control, before escaping with the Tesseract as the S.H.I.E.L.D facility implodes all around them. In response, Fury decides to enact “the Avengers initiative” (which we first learned about when he brings it up to Tony in the first “Iron Man” movie’s post-credit scene).
We then cut to a scene, somewhere overseas, where Black Widow is being interrogated by some reaaaaalllly dumb Russian dudes. We never learn exactly what it’s about, but we do determine, once and for all, that Natasha Romanoff is one baaaaad woman who cannot be messed with. (The flippy moves she pulls off to escape while tied to a chair are absolutely insane, and this truly might be the most bad-ass scene of the movie.)
Before the whole chair magic act, though, she receives a call from Coulson asking her to come in, a request she initially rebuffs. That is, until Coulson tells her that “Barton’s been compromised,” which was apparently all she needed to hear.
Then starts the flurry of Avengers recruitment scenes that would make even Nick Saban proud, as Natsha is sent to Calcutta to get Bruce Banner (ya know, the guy who turns all green and angry), Coulson goes off to New York City to get Tony Stark, and Fury ends up interrupting one of Steve Rogers’s workout sessions to try and pull in Cap. As you would expect, all three of them are skeptical at first, but with a little sweet-talking (and ego-poking) all three eventually acquiesce. (We also learn that Thor is currently “worlds away” at the time, per Fury.)
Everyone then meets up on the Helicarrier, one of the coolest pieces of aircraft you’ll ever see, to exchange salutations and learn more about what the hell is actually going on. As you can imagine, hubris and standoffish attitudes dominate the air, and it’s a giant you-know-what-showing contest before they can all get down to brass tacks. Fury then calls upon Cap to head to Germany, where Loki and Hawkeye are attempting to steal iridium, which is needed to harness the Tesseract’s power. This is where we get our first glimpse of the Avengers in action, as Cap and Tony (as Iron Man) team up, along with a little help from Natasha in the bird, to get Loki to surrender while he’s trying to preach to the masses out in a giant courtyard about being their new leader.
The crew than attempts to bring Loki back to the Helicarrier before we suddenly get our first appearance from the God of Thunder, as Thor drops down from the sky like a meteor on top of their plane. Thor then steals Loki in an effort to bring him back to Asgard, trying to sweet-talk him on a remote mountain top, before Tony comes flying in and spears Thor like a young Ray Lewis.
CUE THE FIRST MAJOR SUPERHERO FIGHT SCENE!!!
We then get some epic fighting action involving Iron Man, Thor, and Cap, which ends up clearing out half a forest (in a very non-green-friendly series of moves, as astutely pointed out by my girlfriend), eventually resulting in Thor agreeing to let the others take Loki back to the Helicarrier – with Thor tagging along as well, of course. (We also learn that Vibranium can apparently withstand a diesel strike from Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir):
Back to the chopper. Back to the ego-maniacal, selfish chirping. Yadda, yadda, yadda. All of which includes an awesome, role/relationship-defining exchange between Cap and Tony (including my favorite Tony Stark line of all-time):
However, amidst all the grandstanding, we learn a few key things:
- S.H.I.E.L.D wasn’t just using the Tesseract in an effort to obtain infinite sustainable energy for the better of the planet; after all, if they were, why wouldn’t have Tony – who’s entire house runs on such a source – been brought in to consult? Rather, they were using it to build weapons of mass destruction (which, Fury quickly points out, was only being done to protect the planet after the whole Thor vs. the Destroyer incident from a year before).
- Bruce actually tried to kill himself in the past. It’s a pretty blunt revelation on his part, and it’s one that helps to humanize the heroes we so often look to as entirely different than ourselves.
- In a separate cut scene, we get a little more insight into Natasha’s nefarious past and her ongoing efforts to redeem herself. We also learn that it was Hawkeye who decided not to kill her when he had the chance as part of a covert S.H.I.E.L.D. mission years ago. (Hence the reason she’s so fond of Mr. Barton.) More importantly, she tricks Loki into revealing his true intentions of getting the Avengers to tear themselves apart from the inside.
Then suddenly, a still under-the-influence Hawkeye and a group of Loki’s flunkies swoop in and set off a series of explosions throughout the Helicarrier, almost causing it to crash to the ground. The commotion also causes the Hulk to be unleashed, as Loki intended, which also didn’t help matters one bit. Then a whole bunch of fighting ensues – including some cool shots between Hulk and Thor, before Hulk is tricked to jump off the ship – while Tony and Cap work together to save the Helicarrier from plummeting toward the earth. Natasha also helps to snap Hawkeye out of it, and Loki escapes due to system failure from the explosions.
AND THEN LOKI KILLS COULSON. (After Coulson got a little too big for his britches and threatened to kill Loki first.)
As awful as it was for Coulson himself, it was EXACTLY what the Avengers needed to rally together and get over themselves. After this, they all chase Loki off to NYC, where he attempts to open up a portal at the top of Stark Tower to let all the Chitauri in and start his takeover. And he’s pretty successful at first, as Cap, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and Tony all have their hands full for a bit before good ole Bruce shows up on a bike – and reveals that he’s actually been able to control the Hulk the whole time:
Together, they continue to stand their ground, but the Chitauri simply outnumber them a kajillion to six. And here’s where Tony – ya know, the “selfish” one – proves why he’s the best Avenger (yup, he’s my favorite), as he almost sacrifices himself when he grabs a nuke (sent by the World Council) intended to destroy Manhattan and redirects it (with himself attached) into the portal and out into space. Fortunately, the missile hits the Chitauri mothership directly, destroying everything (including the Chitauri on Earth), and Tony is able to fall back down to Earth before the portal closes. Loki’s plans are foiled, and the movie is then basically over.
We then see news clips of various people – from reporters to politicians to regular civilians – ranging from thankful to fearful to downright angry. One particular d-bag politician even calls for the Avengers to be punished for what happened. But in the end, they all go their separate ways, all knowing that they will soon be reunited once the next disaster happens.
There are actually two post-credit scenes. The first features “The Other” talking to someone in a big chair, which is facing opposite the screen. He tells this being about how dangerous the Avengers are and that choosing to challenge them would be to “court death itself.” Said being then turns around, and – lo and behold – we get our first ever shot of Thanos in the MCU. Aaaand we all know how that one turns out…
The second one features the Avengers sitting down together and eating shwarma. Why? Well, because it’s a hilarious call back to one of Tony’s final lines in the movie (the vid in the link below actually splices the two scenes together, for reference):
Again, this movie still makes me feel like a kid again every time I watch it, and it solidified the MCU’s standing as a Hollywood megaverse. Bravo to all involved. I’ll never get sick of this one.
Final rating: 9.0 / 10
Next up for The 300s Marvel Cinematic Rewind, “Iron Man 3.” (But first, there’ll be a bonus “MCU Phase 1 Wrap-Up” podcast as well! Date and time to be announced soon.)
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