Fan vs. First Timer: The Avengers Review
An MCU novice & MCU fan share their thoughts on The Avengers
I do not consider myself a Marvel nerd or fangirl, but I do appreciate the movies and the superheroes it produces. (Ok fine, I fangirl over WandaVision and Loki but who doesn’t?) I have seen most of the Marvel movies once or twice. I watched The Avengers for the second time and it’s fun, but I wouldn’t call it my favorite Marvel movie or a masterpiece. The movie was a little long and the pacing was chaotic. Don’t get me wrong, there are some stellar fight scenes and noteworthy moments in the film. My personal favorite is watching The Hulk slam Loki into the ground. It cracks me up every time.
Let me preface this review by saying I find some of the superhero costumes and world-building hard to believe and sometimes silly. I can’t fully hold these aspects against this film because that’s just part of how the Marvel universe works.
For me there is a delicate balance with Sci-fi/superhero movies that should be paid attention to. The characters should be relatable and have depth to keep the audience grounded in a supernatural world. It should have some jokes so the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously. This way the film keeps the audience invested in the narrative and characters while still being self-aware of the insane alternate world. Avengers does this well sometimes, but other times misses the mark.
The movie begins with Nick Fury at S.H.I.E.L.D. and Loki emerging to steal the Tesseract, which is a strong start. Loki seizes the Tesseract’s power and controls people? I’m down. Not to mention Samuel L. Jackson and Tom Hiddleston killing it, as always. I thought Loki was a great villain (minus the silly giant horns) and his quest for power over the world was a classic evil move.
As the team assembles, finding the team members in their respective day-to-day lives was a good way to introduce the characters and highlight their differences. Black Widow kicking some ass with a chair was one of the film’s high points.
After the team is assembled and they’ve tracked Loki to Germany, the Avengers emerge to fight him and it’s pretty dang cool. Cap defends a brave old man and Iron Man enters to AC/DC? What could be better? After the team captures Loki, Thor barges in to rip Loki out of the ship. I enjoyed this and the fight between Thor and Iron Man that follows. Captain America breaks up the fight and makes them realize they are on the same team. Classic Cap.
Then the team discusses what to do with Loki and the Tesseract and discovers S.H.I.E.L.D. has been trying to use it for nuclear weapons. This is where I started to become disenchanted with the plot. Not to mention the annoying arguments between the Avengers. It was very difficult for me to find their arguing meaningful because there are so many characters, some with little character development. The arguing felt very ego-based instead of morally different ways of thinking. I wanted to see their vulnerabilities come out more instead of “my way is right, yours is wrong.”
I did not find S.H.I.E.L.D.'s stance very surprising. A big agency trying to harness new weapons to defend themselves against otherworldly enemies? Sounds about right. Then Fury reveals that this was part of his plan to get the Avengers together??? Wait. So he risked using a giant dangerous power source just to get them to work together? I feel like he could have assembled the group and explained the risk of the world’s current vulnerable position instead.
Anyway, the action that follows is very entertaining. Cap and Iron Man working together, Bruce turning into The Hulk, Natasha fighting a manipulated Hawkeye, and Loki mischievously getting out of his cell and launching Thor in a glass cage down 33,000 feet. Coulson dying was a bummer and a good example of Loki’s cruelty. His death was upsetting, but the team acted like one of the Avengers died. I could sense it was a side character that would be hurtful to kill off but it wasn’t an Earth shattering blow. It felt like an easy way out to kill off a sort-of important side character.
Once they figure out Loki’s plan to have all the attention on him and use Stark Tower… Don’t you think they could have sent a warning… maybe told the police to get people inside? It felt like they had some time for warning the people of NYC before all hell broke loose.
The final battle in New York was good. Seeing them finally work together was satisfying but let’s never forget the best part of this battle: Loki getting absolutely destroyed by the Hulk.
I am here for Black Widow figuring out how to shut the portal down, but how did the scientist wake up? I don’t recall this being in sync with Loki getting smashed or hurt because I think that would've been more believable… but nope he just suddenly wakes up. Iron Man almost sacrificing himself by redirecting the rocket and floating through space was nerve-racking and brave. I actually felt worried and connected to Tony’s character.
Nick Fury disobeying a direct order and basically telling the World Security Council he’s going to do what he wants was rebellious and amazing. However, he had no consequences, it feels like the Council would be A LOT more upset with him for shooting down a plane and disobeying their orders.
Overall, the action was incredible, the acting was solid and the dialogue was funny. But, the story was disorganized and not well paced. The plot did not align well with the character development either. I would have liked to see more depth in the characters and a simplified narrative that would give them space to grow and make their arguments and actions more meaningful.
Editor's Note: I rewatched Iron Man and Coulson seems really important, so umm...nevermind. After reading Bailey’s article, the stone manipulating the Avengers' to argue makes much more sense, really wishing they harped on that more.
Up until the COVID-19 pandemic hit, I knew as much about Marvel as Megan. I had only seen a handful of films — and never in any specific order. That was until we were locked up in quarantine and I decided to watch all of the films in chronological order.
I do have some issues with Marvel, and I don’t think it is perfect by any means, nor is The Avengers my favorite Marvel movie. However, I think Avengers is a decent place to start for a newbie. You don’t have to know the characters’ backstories as you’re getting an introduction to most people. After all, at the time Avengers was released, there were only five other Marvel films — one of which, The Incredible Hulk, Marvel doesn’t even acknowledge as part of the series. Plus, it’s not Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk so we don’t want it anyway.
One of my favorite things about Marvel is that it can make jokes and laugh at itself. Even Captain America makes fun of his suit in Avengers saying “aren’t the stars and stripes a little… old fashioned?” I honestly don’t think I would like these films if they didn’t make me laugh in between the fight scenes. And I completely agree with Megan that Hulk utterly obliterating Loki is the best scene in the whole movie.
However, where Megan starts to get lost is about the time where it’s probably best to understand the characters’ backstories. Of course the fighting is ego-based, that is totally Tony Stark. Captain America has been frozen in ice for decades and now Tony Stark, resident bad boy and solo artist, has to follow his orders? No chance. Bruce Banner just straight up doesn’t want to be there. And Thor, who had a small stint on Earth in his origin film, really does know Loki best, but because he’s a “god” he doesn’t want to listen.
Also, though this is something I didn’t know until I was researching Loki, the Mind Stone in Loki’s staff is actually manipulating the Avengers into fighting and hating one another. I don’t hold this against anyone for not knowing — it’s not obvious at all in the film besides a slight zoom in on the staff. But, that was all part of Loki’s plan — to make the team fight in order to bring out The Hulk who would destroy them all.
And if there’s one thing to know about Nick Fury it’s that his messages are always crazy. He will never just tell you what he wants, just like Tony kept saying throughout the film. Even if Fury told them Earth was in danger, they wouldn’t have joined forces to help, they needed something big to do it.
Killing off Coulson was actually much more important than Megan realized. This is another point that is more prominent when you know the backstories. Agent Coulson was really important to the Avengers because he was the director of S.H.I.E.L.D., so he was the one who dealt with the Avengers — at least more than Fury. So it was like one of the Avengers died because Coulson was the primary agent on the Avengers Initiative project. The idea for the Avengers was basically Coulson’s pride and joy so that’s why they rallied around his death.
The Battle of New York is a good fight sequence, definitely not the best in Marvel history, but still engaging. But my BIGGEST problem with Marvel in general is that they literally destroy the cities and cause so much damage and then just walk away. Like the Avengers demolished New York and didn’t even bat an eye. I know they kind of get a slap on the wrist later — but what the heck? How can they keep getting away with causing all this damage?
Unlike Megan, I do think these characters have depth and development. Steve told Tony that he was selfish during their fight early on in the film, but in the end Tony sacrificed himself to save everyone. Bruce starts the movie not wanting to be there and refusing to let The Hulk out, but by the end he has accepted “the other guy” and lets him out to fight. Even Loki sort of realizes by the end that it may have all been too much — when he and Thor are fighting Thor says “you think this madness will end with your rule?” and Loki replies “it’s too late to stop it.” I know Loki is a villain in this film, but deep down, is he really?
All in all, this is definitely not the best Marvel movie in existence. But it is a good jump off point for this team of superheroes. The characters are finally starting to understand the important role they play in society and that will propel them through the rest of the movies. Unfortunately for Megan, the petty fights don’t stop — but I think that humanizes these characters and makes you realize that this really is their job and it’s freaking stressful. But, if you want to get the full Avengers experience, I would recommend watching the movies in either chronological or release order to fully understand what’s going on.