Everything has been leading to this. Six main characters introduced over 5 movies, all threads leading to the creation of the Avengers. But it’s not as simple as them just deciding working together is a great idea. What do you think this is, 1963? So let’s talk about the last film in Marvel’s Phase One as MCU March continues!
Deep in a secret SHIELD facility, Dr. Erk Selvig is working on the Tesseract with Hawkeye around. Nick Fury, Agent Coulson, and Maria Hill (Mrs. Cobie Smulders) are also there when Loki shows up with a maniacal outlook and a scepter that mind controls people. The god takes Selvig, Hawkeye, and the Tesseract and destroys the facility. Time for Fury to call in the big guns! Black Widow gathers Bruce Banner (now played by Mark Ruffalo) not for his Hulk persona, but for his help tracking the Tesseract. Nick Fury gets Captain America involved, and Agent Coulson gets a reluctant Iron Man. They all meet up on the Helicarrier, SHIELD’s flying battleship. SHIELD searches for Loki and the Tesseract, but Loki does not do subtlety so everyone hears when he’s making a scene in Germany. Cap and Iron Man show up and Loki surrenders with barely a fight. On the ride back to the Helicarrier, Thor shows up–turns out Odin can teleport people, or something–and steals Loki, causing a conflict between him and the other two heroes. Cooler heads prevail, Loki is recaptured, and our five heroes convene to talk about what to do next.
But this is all part of Loki’s plans. While his scepter makes the heroes start to turn on each other (the movie does a poor job of explaining that, but that’s what the wikis say), Hawkeye and soldiers loyal to Loki attack and nearly cripple the Helicarrier. Guess we’ll have to talk later about SHIELD trying to use the Tesseract to build weapons–the same plan as Hydra back in WWII. Bruce hulks out and fights Thor, Iron Man and Cap struggle to keep the ship in the air, and Black Widow beats the brainwashing out of Hawkeye. But not everyone makes it out alive. Loki stabs Coulson, killing the loyal agent. His death makes everyone sad (he was a really nice guy) but also spurns the heroes on, something Loki did not plan on. They find out that Loki is at Stark Tower, Tony’s new skyscraper, and is planning on opening a portal to outer space that will bring about an invasion of Chitauri aliens. Well, “planning on” turns into “actually does,” and the Battle for New York begins. Pew pew space lasers! Roar from the giant alien… whale… thing! The Hulk shows up late, and our six heroes manage to defeat Loki–well, Hulk beats the shit out of him–and find a way to close the portal. Too bad Nick Fury’s bosses think this whole thing is unsalvageable and order a nuke to be dropped on Manhattan. The team keeps the portal open long enough for Iron Man to fly the missile through, it and blow up the alien mothership, instantly deactivating the Chitauri. But Iron Man almost dies, something that will get brought up in Iron Man 3. The day is saved, a waitress who has a crush on Captain America gets a moment that makes little sense because the scene she shared with Cap was left on the cutting room floor, SHIELD feels really bad about trying to make weapons of mass destruction, and Thor takes Loki back to Asgard. The Avengers go their separate way with the sense that when the world needs them, they’ll reunite.
A mid-credits scene sees Loki’s master, a purple alien credited as “Man #1.” But many will recognize him as Thanos (Damion Poitier, who only played the character in this one scene). A post-credits scene has the Avengers silently eating shawarma, and idea Iron Man had after almost dying.
There are so many things I want to talk about this movie, but I can’t do that without addressing the elephant in the room. The Avengers was co-written and directed by Joss Whedon, the man responsible for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, and a number of abuse allegations. It’s hard to get into the specifics of the claims–most likely due to non-disclosure agreements–but enough people have come out saying he’s a nightmare to work with that it’s most likely true. Throw in things like Loki calling Natasha a “mewling quim”–which is a fancy way of calling her a whining “c-word”–or Iron Man saying he would reinstate prima nocta–the right of a king to have sex with any woman he wants to–in Avengers: Age of Ultron and you start to look back on his work and think, “Oh, yeah… There are definitely issues there.” He’s only mainly involved in one movie after this, there haven’t been any direct sexual abuse allegations made (at the time of writing), and I’m not planning on reviewing Buffy anytime soon, so I won’t do a whole thing about him like I did with Bryan Singer. He’s made some great work but he’s problematic, so each of us will have to balance those two concepts in our own ways.
COMIC BOOK FUN FACT! The villain for the first Avengers movie had to be Loki. Sure, there are more iconic Avengers villains (see you in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, Kang the Conqueror), but for the first one it was always going to be Loki. That’s because in the comics the team was created directly because of the trickster god. Back in Avengers #1 (1963), Loki wanted to fuck with Thor so he tricks the Hulk into causing a literal train wreck. Thor sheds his mortal form as Dr. Donald Blake (remember the nametag and fake ID from Thor?) to hunt down the Hulk. Ant-Man (Hank Pym), the Wasp (Janet Van Dyne), and Iron Man also get involved. While Thor realizes this is Loki’s fault and goes to punish him, the others find Hulk at… a circus? Where he’s pretending to be a robot in clown makeup? Sure, why not. The 60’s were a hell of a drug. A fight ensues, but ends when Thor returns and explains this is all Loki’s fault. The Wasp decides working together is a great idea, and thus the Avengers were born. Hulk would quit the next issue, and Captain America would join after getting thawed out in Avengers #4 (1964). Everyone but Cap would leave in Avengers #16 (1965) and be replaced by new members Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver. Black Widow was around during that period as an ally–and sometimes lover to Hawkeye–but wouldn’t officially join the team until Avengers #111 (1973).
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