What You Need to Know: The Avengers.
With Marvel’s The Avengers coming out on May 4th, now is a pretty good time to recap and maybe catch some of you up to speed. For those of you that are informed, this is likely stuff you already know. But for those of you that 1.) haven’t seen the other movies, 2.) don’t remember, or 3.) will be dragged along to The Avengers but don’t even know what is going on… This is for you.
Where It Began…
In 2008, Iron Man was released. This is notable because it not only reinvigorated (or revived even) Robert Downey Jr’s movie career but because it showed the world that there is more to the Marvel universe than just the X-Men and Spiderman. Other ventures, including The Fantastic Four were decent but nothing really caught on. Iron Man was a relatively unknown hero and they managed to create a hit.
After the credits of Iron Man, they brought in Samuel L. Jackson to play an iconic character named Nick Fury, who heads up an organization called S.H.I.E.L.D. and he asks Iron Man to consider joining what he calls “the Avengers Initiative.” Goosebumps.
A few months later, The Incredible Hulk was released featuring Edward Norton. Robert Downey Jr and Samuel L. Jackson both featured in a scene that tied this movie to Iron Man. Fans across the world began to realize the idea of a full-fledged Avengers movie could be a reality. Over the next few years, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America hit theaters, each one elaborating on the canon and preparing for The Avengers.
The Ensemble of Heroes
The Avengers features six heroes, in addition to Nick Fury and his S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives.
Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) is a billionaire playboy who was captured and held ransom in the middle east and was forced to create a battery (essentially) which keeps him alive. To escape his captors, he built a suit of armor that is powered by this same battery. Over the two films, he’s mastered the art of weaponry and controlling this armor. He’s able to fly long distances and shoot various weapons, including energy beams and traditional missiles and bullets. He is sometimes joined by James Rhodes, who wears a larger and more weapons-oriented suit and is called The War Machine.
The Hulk (this time around played by Mark Ruffalo) is a brilliant scientist named Bruce Banner who was caught in the middle of a gamma experiment. Now when Bruce loses his cool, he transforms into the Hulk. The Hulk shares very little with Bruce Banner, so there have been problems with him hurting those he loves and causing massive damage that he later regrets. Even though Bruce still searches for a “cure,” he’s managed to somewhat control the Hulk enough to fight for good. After he causes devastation though, Bruce often retreats to secluded areas of the world where the Hulk can’t hurt anyone. He’s not just strong but the gamma radiation makes him nearly indestructible.
Thor’s story is a little more out of this world. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is the god of Thunder in Norse mythology and comes from the land of Asgard. After a dispute where his mischief-making brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) deceives their father Odin, Thor is hurled to Earth. He’s basically treated as a nutjob until people start to realize he can fly and hurl lightning bolts from his fingertips. As a weapon, Thor uses Mjolnir, an ancient hammer which can only be lifted by Thor himself. While on Earth, Thor falls in love with its people (most notably romantic interest Natalie Portman). Spoiler: After the credits of Thor, we see that Loki is not defeated as we had thought and is manipulating people on Earth. Loki returns as the primary villain in The Avengers.
Captain America (Chris Evans) is a soldier from the World War II era that was injected with a ‘super soldier’ serum. He is stronger, faster, and more agile than most humans. He defeats the villain Red Skull, who is trying to find an ancient artifact called the Cosmic Cube, which can alter reality itself. Captain America saves the day but sacrifices himself to do so. He plummets into the icy water of one of our oceans and is frozen until current day, when S.H.I.E.L.D. unfreezes him. Spoiler: The cube sought by the Red Skull is the object of Loki’s affection in the post-Thor credits.
There are two other heroes that haven’t received their own star treatment. Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) is a master archer and Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson) is a master spy and assassin. They both work for S.H.I.E.L.D. and work alongside the Avengers.
Are There More Avengers?
As a side note, there is a whole slew of other Avengers that could likely make their way to the big screen if The Avengers is a success.
Most notably are the heroes Ant Man and Wasp. They are pair of heroes that utilize technology which allows them to shrink down to size. Ant Man sometimes chooses to grow in size, nearly the size of skyscrapers. There is an Ant Man movie in the works, being both written and directed by Edgar Wright (known for Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Scott Pilgrim vs The World).
There are also two heroes that coexist with the X-Men rights that are currently held by other studios. Both Quicksilver and his sister the Scarlet Witch have served as Avengers and may eventually make their way to the silver screen. Since they belong to both rosters, they could potentially feature in an X-Men film and an Avengers film with separate actors and/or storylines. Could be confusing.
Villains of The Avengers
Loki, brother of Thor, stars as the main villain of The Avengers but the main force of troops is extraterrestrial. With aliens being a focus, as well as the Cosmic Cube, it’s hard to ignore the enemy that is most notably connected to these factors. His name is Thanos and is one of the most prominent villains in the Avengers storylines (he also does a lot of villain work in the Fantastic Four stories).
Thanos wears something called the Infinity Gauntlet, which has already been shown in Thor (though it’s easy to miss if you’re not looking for it). When given special gems, this gauntlet gives its wearer god-like powers. So maybe they’ll set Thanos up as the villain for the next Avengers film? In case they hint at, I wanted you all to be informed so you can be in the know if they drop clues.
Hopefully for the uneducated, this gives you a solid foundation. Definitely try to catch the first movies before heading to theaters on May 4th to catch The Avengers but I know many of you can’t or won’t. So, with this basic understanding of who’s involved, you should be “in the know” enough to enjoy the film!