Revisiting the Marvel Cinematic Universe Part 06 – The Avengers

Revisiting the Marvel Cinematic Universe Part 06 – The Avengers

This is where it all came together for the first time.  Quite possibly one of the most landmark events in super hero cinematic history, the first Avengers film was proof positive that Marvel Studios could actually make this thing work.

I’m pretty sure I was in full denial of this fact up until I was actually sitting in the theater and watching the film unfold in front of me, an amazing feat of coordination, writing, acting, and plain old Hollywood blockbuster muscle.

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Rarely has something with the years long build up of the Avengers actually managed to pay off, but I say without hesitation and without equivocation that the first Avengers film wholeheartedly stuck the landing.

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I’m an immense fan of Joss Whedon and have been for a very long time.  The minute his name was attached to this film, I was fully on board, and I was not disappointed.  What surprised me the most about Avengers wasn’t the action or the blockbuster special effects, it was the heart.  The dialogue and the rapport between the main cast members was truly spectacular and felt incredibly natural, in spite of all of these disparate pieces being cobbled together into a single, functional film.

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Every character and every story had its place.  Banner’s demons were present and a part of the story, and this features Mark Ruffalo’s first appearance as Banner/the Hulk and he does…well…exceptional to say the least.  Stark’s rise to prominence as Iron Man played its part.  The Thor and Loki dynamic was transferred from the Thor film to perfection, yet didn’t take over the story.  Captain America’s “man out of time” worked on the big stage, and in many smaller moments as well.  Even relative small time players like Black Widow and Hawkeye had their times to shine.  Coulson became the focus, and the martyr, while Fury and Hill strode through the Helicarrier making their own presence known.

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For pretty much the first time, SHIELD and the superheroes co-existed in lock step, setting the stage for the MCU and creating a launching pad for any number of future events.  Focusing once again on the modern day search for the Tesseract, first made known in the Captain America film, Loki enlists the aid of the Chitauri, an ancient alien warrior species who is only to happy to help take over the planet.  Controlled by Thanos, the revelation of these aliens is actually treated like a huge event, in this film, and going forward, completely changing the mindset of Tony Stark.  So many things we, as comic readers, take for granted, it’s really refreshing to see something like the revelation of beings outside our world being treated with the kind of awe and respect that you’d think.

Even a tiny piece of the puzzle like Powers Boothe’s place as Gideon Malick (a role he has now transferred to perfection to the Agents of SHIELD television series) played its part in the overall narrative arc here and going forward.

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Of course mixed within all of this character and story development was a crazy amount of high octane action at various different points in the film.  The final 30 – 45 minutes featuring the battle in New York (also perfectly balanced among all the various cast members) remains one of the most impressive feats in blockbuster action film history in my mind.

Marvel's Guardians Of The Galaxy..Thanos (voiced by Josh Brolin)..Ph: Film Frame..©Marvel 2014
Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy..Thanos (voiced by Josh Brolin)..Ph: Film Frame..©Marvel 2014

Along with the Tesseract, Loki’s alien staff brings together a second Infinity Stone, really starting to develop the over-arcing tale of these ancient cosmic relics and their potential power over mankind.

Four years of build up.  Not a sudden “HEY HERE’S A SHARED UNIVERSE, LOVE IT” but an actual slow and steady interwoven burn between several different Phase 1 films culminated in this huge event, a summer blockbuster the likes of which not only was ever seen previously, but an event that shaped Hollywood’s mentality going forward.  Since that time we’ve seen and have heard of other studios trying to emulate the Marvel philosophy, but time will tell what level of success they have.  First and foremost, Marvel has developed this shared universe by creating quality entertainment above all else.

Fans don’t love the shared universe just because it’s a shared universe, they love it because even the individual films tend to be high quality and lend themselves naturally to the overall narrative.  Studios who try to mimic that formula risk sacrificing the inherent quality of the individual parts and I worry that they will not match the Marvel success story.

That being said, I was thrilled with the end result of The Avengers, and found the film to be totally deserving of its hype and its four year build up.  Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a new #1!

Ongoing Rank:

#6 – Iron Man 2
#5 – Thor
#4 – Incredible Hulk
#3 – Captain America: The First Avenger
#2 – Iron Man
#1 – Avengers

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