In this analysis of The Avengers, a recent Marvel’s superhero blockbuster, we will be discussing a few of this films’ film narratives that are representative of contemporary Hollywood film. The Avengers is a 2012 American superhero film that was produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. It is based on the Marvel Comics superhero team of the same name. The Avengers is the sixth installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The film is directed by Joss Whedon and features an ensemble cast that includes Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders, Stellan Skarsgård and Samuel L. Jackson (Neumaier). In the film, Nick Fury, the director of the peacekeeping organization S.H.I.E.L.D., recruits Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk, and Thor to form a team that must stop Thor’s adoptive brother Loki from defeating Earth in an alien invasion with the aid of a mystical alien cube weapon known as the tesseract.
The team has to learn to work out their problems, both personal and within the group, and band together and save the world, which proves to be extremely difficult as the movie progresses. In this analysis of The Avengers I will be discussing the following film narratives of star actors; character driven stories; how the film takes place in a known, quintessential, American, real world setting; and how the film follows a specific genre formula. “For all the many strengths of “The Avengers,” there’s one important element that writer-director Joss Whedon can’t take credit for: the casting.
Of the main characters, only one, Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/The Hulk, hasn’t appeared in one of the previous five Marvel movies that have led to this point. Of course, for the most part, it’s to be expected: while there are a few newcomers in the mix, the principle cast have close to a century of experience in the movies between them, and countless great performances in their back catalogs” (Scott). The film narrative of star actors is a very prominent aspect in this movie.
The Avengers is a movie with one of the biggest collections of star actors since the beginning of the contemporary Hollywood cinema era. Every main character in this film can be and is considered a star actor. From Robert Downey Jr. who plays Iron Man, the rich, playboy, genius, to Scarlett Johansson who plays as The Black widow, a special ops spy, to Samuel L. Jackson, who plays as Dr. Nick Fury, the leader of the team. In a movie like this, having star actors is a crucial factor in the films success.
By having these star actors in The Avengers, they achieved the fan bases of each individual actor on top of the fan base already revolving around the story line and the comics. Because of this, The Avengers has the third highest worldwide grosses made so far, coming in at $1,511,757,910 (Marvel’s). The only reason that this movie was such a success was due to it being a very character driven story. Each individual character had their own input in how the storyline progressed. They are all connected, yet also independent throughout the movie. In the beginning of this film the director made sure to focus on each individual character before intertwining them all. Due to Loki stealing the tesseract, Dr.
Fury decides that its time to enact the Avengers program. So Phil contacts Natasha, aka The Black Widow, while she is working undercover, which introduces us to her character and some background information about her. He sends her to go find The Hulk in India, where he’s been hiding out, so that she can “recruit” him. This then introduces us to his story and starts the intertwinement between the individual characters. The next hero to be introduced is Captain America. Dr. Fury himself goes to “recruit” the captain and we are shown a preview of where he’s from and some of his backstory. The next character to be initiated is Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, and my personal favorite.
The scene starts of with him and his girlfriend Pepper opening up the Stark tower with clean energy, when Phil comes to recruit him as well. All of the Hero’s, except for Thor, are introduced to each other when Loki attacks a crowd in Germany and they defeat and capture him.
On the plane ride back to base, Thor captures Loki from the rest of the team, introducing his character and the relationship and background between the two brothers. The beginning of the movie is only one of the many examples of how this film is a character driven story. It goes into much further detail and continues to intertwine even more as the movie progresses.
The next film narrative that was represented in The Avengers was how the film takes place in a known, quintessential, American, real world setting. Ever since September 11th 2001, Hollywood has been portraying the United States being attacked again in many of their films, whether by terrorists or by alien invaders like in this movie.
“These movies are reflecting a need to look back at why these other events started, to show American history in a more heroic light when it looks quite dark now” (Sánchez-Escalonilla). The last quarter of this movie is based in Manhattan, New York, one of the same cities as the 9/11 attacks. It revolves around an alien invasion destroying the city and killing hundreds of people, which can be representative of the 9/11 attacks. By the end of the movie, the Avengers, and specifically Iron man, save the city from both the alien attack and also from our own country bombing it with a nuke by guiding the nuke into space and destroying the invading alien army.
Many people believe that these ending scenes are representative of the statement above how “American History is shown in a more heroic light” (Sánchez-Escalonilla), due to the heroic actions of the Avengers and the countless lives that they saved by protecting the city and eliminating the alien invaders. The last film narrative that I noticed in The Avengers was that this film follows a very specific genre formula of a classic, action filled Superhero movie.
“Marvel’s The Avengers is awesomeness squared. It’s the apotheosis of the modern age of comic-book superhero movie, the epitome of everything that Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America and Thor were and were trying to be” (Greydanus). The Avengers is the first movie to combine all of the different Marvel’s Comic’s superheroes into one intense, action packed film.
This movie was so well thought-out and planned that certain characters were mentioned and even appeared in other hero’s movies and at the end of each specific hero’s movie, there was a scene that connected them all to The Avengers. This movie is one of a kind and redefines the genre of the “superhero” film. “The Avengers makes superhero movies new again” (Neumaier). In conclusion, this film is a great representation of the contemporary Hollywood film of our time.
The Avengers symbolizes all of the best film narratives of our era, such as Star Actors, like Robert Downey Jr., character driven stories, how the film takes place in a known, quintessential, American, real world setting, like New York, and how the film follows a specific genre formula of being a “Superhero movie.” This film is going to be considered a classic and a twenty-first century treasure, in the same way that Singing in the Rain, The Godfather, Grease and The Wizard of Oz are considered of their film eras.
GREYDANUS, STEVEN D. “‘The Avengers’ Takes the Superhero Genre to Whole New Level.” NCRegister. EWTN News, n.d. Print. 08 May 2013.
“Marvel’s The Avengers (2012) – Box Office Mojo.” Marvel’s The Avengers (2012) – Box Office Mojo. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 May 2013. .
Neumaier, Joe. “Movie Review: ‘The Avengers'” Daily News [New York] 30 Apr. 2012: 16-17. Print. 08 May 2013.
Sánchez-Escalonilla, Antonio. “Hollywood And The Rhetoric Of Panic: The Popular Genres Of Action And Fantasy In The Wake Of The 9/11 Attacks.” Journal Of Popular Film & Television 38.1 (2010): 10-20. Print. 08 May 2013.
Scott, A. O. “Robert Downey Jr. in ‘The Avengers,’ Directed by Joss Whedon.” NYTimes.com. New York Times, 03 May 2012. Web. 07 May 2013. .