I don’t think I really have to talk about how big this film is. The Avengers film is one of the biggest films of 2012 and the hype for this film is immense. A little while ago Marvel Studios had a dream of crafting the ultimate comic book film and the way in which they would craft it would be to introduce characters over the course of several films in a build-up to the major picture that would eventually come out. They started in 2008 and since then Marvel Studios have created a universe that blends the fictional world of comic books with real life and now in 2012, 5 films later, with the pieces set in place Marvel are ready to present one of the most beastly film projects in the history of cinema.
Holy crap this poster just makes my mind explode, I need this film in my life now!
As I said before The Avengers is a film based on years of hard work and carefully planned films that would add up to this end result, a film that would combine all of those characters and worlds into one massive summer movie!
So let’s go back to the beginning, back to the year 2008 when Marvel Studios released their first independently produced film in the form of Iron Man. Back then the film was a big deal because there were many factors to take into consideration like the fact that it was the first movie Marvel wasn’t co-producing with another film company, plus it was based on one of Marvel’s lesser known superheroes, there was also the fact that it was being directed by Jon Favreau the guy that brought us Elf and lastly Robert Downey Jr. had been cast as the title star who’d had a pretty turbulent life in his world of fame. All of those factors had to be taken into consideration, if Iron Man failed, then the future of the eventual Avengers film would fall apart before it even started. Luckily Iron Man was a very well-received film and it pulled in a lot of money at the Box Office. Jon Favreau and his crew had found a way to create a very realistic world in which audiences could relate to but also have all these superhero things happen at the same time. It was a well-rounded, smart and funny film that had a great deal of character development along with sweet action sequences in the city, desert and in the sky. I think the success of Iron Man was down to a brilliant performance by Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, he brought a great level of charisma to role and inhabited a lot of Stark’s comic book mannerisms and after May 2008 Iron Man became a household name as much as Batman and Spider-Man.
This is the film that started it all, because Iron Man was successful, The Avengers wheel kept on turning…
And it was after the success of Iron Man that Marvel announced that The Avengers was to be scheduled for release in July 2011. It was a good move because the seeds of The Avengers had been put in place in Iron Man with small easter eggs located all over the place, but the biggest shock was the appearance of Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury in the post-credits scene where he said to Tony Stark, “I’m here to talk to you about the Avengers initiative.” I think the comic book fan base exploded. I know I did. I mean those few words sent all fanboys into a frenzy and all us fans could think about was the future, this insanely amazing future that we could only imagine how it would turn out.
So a month after the release of Iron Man was released we got the second live-action film adaptation of The Incredible Hulk under the same name The Incredible Hulk. Though the film looked promising from the beginning, unfortunately it wasn’t the amazing Hulk comeback fans wanted. When the film came out it was pretty well-received, most fans and critics liked the new cast, storyline, darker setting and action scenes. But for some The Incredible Hulk felt more like ‘The Adequate Hulk’. While it had a great cast including Edward Norton, Liv Tyler and Tim Roth, a darker tone and a better-looking Hulk not everything came together in the right way. While the references to the old 1970s TV show was great and Ed Norton’s take on Bruce Banner was better than Eric Bana, the film didn’t dive into all of its ideas it had crafted for the story. The film seemed to action well, but when it came to the character development and dramatic elements that really mattered that’s where this film faltered. As much I liked the actors in this film it didn’t feel like they brought their A-game to the film and it shows. The film seemed to have all of these story and character elements that they didn’t commit to and if they had dug a little deeper and extended the film’s runtime then so much more could have been done.
Also noticeable in this film was the easter eggs related to other Marvel films to come with one of the main ones being hidden away in the DVD’s deleted scenes which featured a frozen Captain America and his shield. In The Incredible Hulk there was another scene at the end before the credits rolled where Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) showed up where General Ross was drinking in a bar and said that “team” was being formed, which was another reference to the upcoming Avengers film which got a lot of us fans excited.
So skip ahead two years into the year 2010 and we had the release of Iron Man 2. In this film Tony Stark had a lot on his plate, firstly he has to deal with the fact that everyone know’s that he’s Iron Man, he also has to deal with United States government wanting him to give up his suit to them and to top it off he’s being poisoned by the palladium core in the arc reactor that keeps him alive. There is also the evil Ivan Vanko who creates weapons using the same technology as Stark to challenge him in the film and eventually he teams up with Justin Hammer, a rival defense contractor who wants to take out Stark too. Before this film came out Iron Man 2 was one of the most anticipated films of 2010 especially with all of the hype surrounding War Machine and the introduction of Black Window. While Iron Man 2 did make a heck of a lot of money, unfortunately the film wasn’t the sequel that everyone had hoped for, it was viewed by many as a film as good as the predecessor, but not any better. While Robert Downey Jr. was praised again as Tony Stark and most of the acting was good along with much better action than the last film, in the end the film had issues that the fan base picked up on. The problem with Iron Man 2 was that there so much going on in the film that it became a cluttered mess with too many characters and multiple stories to follow and then with the introduction of S.H.I.E.L.D that was meant to tie-in with The Avengers, it was just too much.
Even though Iron Man 2 wasn’t the epic sequel like The Dark Knight or Spider-Man 2 it did a good job of continuing to establish this Marvel Cinematic Universe that was being created. Iron Man 2 also had numerous easter eggs connecting it to future Marvel films with the appearance of Black Window, the scene with Captain America’s shield and the return of Agent Coulson who at the end of Iron Man 2 introduced us the next Marvel film when he went to the New Mexico desert and reported finding a hammer in a massive crater… Cue Thor!
So in May 2011 we had the arrival of Thor, the film regarded by many to be hardest Marvel character to convert to film. Before Thor came out everyone was wondering how this film was going to be done. How would the filmmakers make all of the God-like aspects of the comics feasible for live-action film? How much would be changed? And most importantly how would the filmmakers bridge the gap between the world of Asgard and the modern real world? All of these questions were hovering over this film and for good reason, if Thor failed then everything would fall apart and it would also put an incredible amount of pressure on the Captain America film. Luckily the film was in the safe hands of director/actor Kenneth Branagh who had a great understanding of the mythology and used his experiences in Shakespeare to convert the film into live-action. Along with Kenneth in the director’s chair, the writers crafted a story and dialogue which was very believable, dramatic and light-hearted too and that’s what made Thor work as a film. Thor was a pretty big success at the Box Office and although it had a mixed reception with fans and critics, the majority of people actually liked it. Some said it was the best Marvel film since Iron Man or the best Marvel Studios film yet. The film had absolutely great action sequences, a very good story and most importantly a great cast. While we had very big stars in the film like Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman & Idris Elba, the film was really all about Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston as Thor and Loki who make the film due to their conflict as brothers/enemies.
Thor also had some interesting connections to other Marvel films like having Agent Coulson return with a more prominent role and Hawkeye making an appearance to keep up the connections to S.H.I.E.L.D. Then having the post-credit scene which raised a few eyebrows where Erik Selvig met up with Nick Fury in a secret location where Fury opens a briefcase and showcases the Cosmic Cube! Which would not only being making an appearance in Captain America but also posed some questions for the future of The Avengers. But the truly interesting/cool part about this scene was how Loki appeared to be controlling Selvig in his decision to study the cube. Fans were hyped up once again.
And lastly in July 2011 we had the final film in the Avengers line-up in the shape of Captain America: The First Avenger. Now like Thor this was a very important film and had a lot riding on it. Firstly Captain America was a very important character in the Marvel Comic Universe and fans were very protective of him and wanted a very good film for him especially after that disastrous film that came out in the 90s. There was also a lot of dramatic weight and character development that came with the source material so there was a lot of work to be done with this film. Before the film came out there was a lot of controversy about the design of the suit and the choice of Chris Evans being Steve Rogers after being the Human Torch in the Fantastic Four films not too long ago and then add to the mix that Joe Johnston was directing and after seeing how The Wolfman turned out and people were naturally worried. Some fans were angry and were flipping out. However as time went by the first pictures of Hugo Weaving as Red Skull made us so happy and all the talk of HYDRA, a real WWII setting and an overall sense of realism made people excited. When the film came out it was a pretty big success, while it didn’t take in as much money as Thor, it did fair a lot better with critics probably due to the more realistic nature of the film. Chris Evans was praised for his portrayal as the title character and as always many people loved Hugo Weaving’s performance too and surprisingly there was also a lot of love for Tommy Lee Jones’s character in the film was very funny. However the film wasn’t completely good, it did have an overall rushed feel to it once Steve Rogers donned the suit and became Captain America, there was also a lot of characters who didn’t get enough screen time, a lot of people weren’t satisfied with the way Bucky Barnes was treated too, there also was a severe lack of action in the long-term sense since most scenes was montages and there was an overall lacking tone to this film that prevented it from being perfect.
Either way the film was good and had many links to the future with the younger version of Howard Stark (Tony’s dad) making an appearance and then’s there’s the Cosmic Cube holding a few big connections to Asgard too. And of course with at the end of the film ad with the post credit scene we see that Steve Rogers has come into the modern-day time period and has a conversation with Nick Fury where he is told by Fury that he is need for a mission of worldwide proportions. Then we had the 30 second teaser look at the then currently being filmed Avengers film which was pretty sweet.
So after Cap came out all the lead-up films had done their job of cementing these heroes in the minds of the audiences and all that was left was the most difficult part; placing all of these heroes in one film and making it work. And the road to get to this point was a difficult one indeed. Firstly Mark Ruffalo replaced Ed Norton as Bruce Banner/Hulk and the that had some of the fan base in a rage ever since and still to this day some people aren’t happy with it. You also had a script that was penned done by Zak Penn, only for it to be reworked by legendary man of the geek world Joss Whedon who then also turned out to be the director! I’m sure after that announcement there was a wave of excitement and a sign of relief since no one knew who would be man enough or powerful enough to tackle this beast of a film. So much stuff went down between 2010 and 2011 in terms of announcements and signs for the future. But I think it was at 2010 San Diego Comic-Con International when the whole cast showed up all together along with Joss Whedon and Kevin Fiege, that was when the fans realised this Avengers dream was real. It was really happening.
Then at some point in 2011 there was the announcement of all the different people who would be working on the film, from the cinematography to the editing, from the costume design to the special effects and the film score, everything sounded heavenly. Then in October 2011 we got a look at the film in first proper trailer and the whole world blew up! The trailer was downloaded on iTunes Movie Trailers over 10 million times in its first 24 hours, breaking the website’s record for the most-viewed trailer (until The Dark Knight Rises trailer came in December and blew it out of the water with 12.5 million views). But either way people were hyped up. It looked like it was shaping up well. But that wasn’t enough. Cut to February 2012 and we had the Super Bowl XLVI and with it came The Avengers TV spot; the one-minute long trailer blew everyone’s minds, all you had to say was one thing… Hulk. And that’s all that people needed to know. That one-minute trailer was absurdly cool, got people hyped and the characters, action and tone of the film looked insane! But again it wasn’t enough. So then recently near the end of February 2012 we get the final Avengers trailer and holy man, it kicks the crap out of all of the last ones. THIS FILM LOOKS INSANE! The sheer level of madness in this film looks unbelievable with all of the confrontation going on within the team, then there’s Loki who has become more powerful there ever and there’s the job of Hawkeye and Black Window fitting into this superhero team. It also looked like there was going to be some degree of drama and character development which is great to see, but in all honesty the action was where it was at and there is so much going on in this film trailer that my mind nearly exploded! Oh and did I mention the fact that one iTunes this trailer reached a record 13.7 milllion downloads in 24 hours beating The Dark Knight Rises completely!
But there is one small thing that could happen… The film could suck. As great as this film looks it does have a lot riding on it, with so many characters and stuff going on in one film, things could become unbalanced, there may not be enough time to everything done or it could be like some of the X-Men films or Iron Man 2 and become a cluttered mess of ideas that wasn’t managed very well. And most importantly will the film just be “Iron Man presents the Avengers” or will there be actual breathing space for other characters to grow? Will Captain America eventually become the leader? These factors as much as I don’t want them to happen are a bit of a reality and have to be taken into consideration. However I believe that my instinct tells me that this film will be good and with someone as well-regarded as Joss Whedon tackling this project with his good track record of managing large numbers of characters in one location I do feel a bit more at ease, so even if the film wasn’t perfect I know it isn’t going to fail completely.
So here we are with The Avengers just over the horizon and the day of reckoning will soon be upon us. Hopefully The Avengers will be the superhero film of the century and give fans and casual audiences alike the kind of summer smash hit that it deserves to be. This is probably my most anticipated film of 2012 because of the geek inside me just telling me that it’ll make my life. I just want this film to be the best thing ever in life and if it is then I’ll be living in the cinema after April 27th watching the film again and again until I explode. I guess there’s only one thing left to say now… AVENGERS ASSEMBLE! 😀