MARVEL’S THE AVENGERS has a special place in the cinematic universe, as well as the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) as the first blockbuster that had required reading. THE AVENGERS is the exciting conclusion to what I affectionately refer to as the Tesseract Trilogy (CAPTAIN AMERICA → THOR → THE AVENGERS). I say affectionately because I’m pretty sure this movie will not be the last time we see the Tesseract, if I was sure I would accurately call these movies the Tesseract Trilogy. (NERD ALERT) The Tesseract will probably be important whenever the rest of the Infinity Gems come into play in the MCU.
The logic behind the 5-movie build-up to THE AVENGERS was that there were way too many characters to dedicate backstory to in one movie. So, obviously, as many characters as possible got their own movies that you needed to watch before THE AVENGERS if you wanted it to make sense. That’s not to say there wasn’t any exposition, we still needed to learn about Black Widow and Hawkeye’s relationship and about how big of a hero-boner Agent Coulson has for Captain America.
The movie begins with Loki (remember him from THOR?) stealing the Tesseract (remember that from CAPTAIN AMERICA? And also THOR and kind of IRON MANG 2?). While he’s there, Loki also mind controls Hawkeye (you might remember him from our review of S.W.A.T.) and Dr. Selvig (who you hopefully don’t remember from this). Loki does all of this with a magic scepter that he got from some aliens he's in cahoots with. If he gives them the Tesseract, they will help him conquer Earth. As you already knew from watching THOR, Loki is real ticked off that he won’t get to be King of Assguard (remember that place where everything is all Viking-y?).
Nick Fury (played by Samuel L. Jackson using the leadership skills he learned during JURASSIC PARK and S.W.A.T.) recognizes the need to assemble Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in order to defeat Loki. So he reaches out to his top agent Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson and Scarlett Johansson’s booty in a skintight jumpsuit) to retrieve Bruce Banner. Banner has been hiding out in India since THE INCREDIBLE HULK. He wants to be left alone so badly he underwent massive surgery to look like Mark Ruffalo instead of Edward Norton. Alas, his disguise is no good because our girl Natasha (did we mention Black Widow is Russian? The movie does roughly the same number of times ScarJo attempts an accent ~3) convinces him to come in. Fury goes to speak to Captain America personally. He finds him beating the ever loving shit out of a series of punching bags. After some convincing, Cap agrees to come along but not without taking one of his punching bags with him. Finally, Iron Mang makes a typically showy entrance after everyone else has assembled on the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier (remember S.H.I.E.L.D.? They were the punks that Thor kicked the shit out of on his way to getting his hammer back in THOR).
Iron Mang, Cap, and BW head to Germany where Loki is trying to establish himself as a dictator (banking on humans to repeat their mistakes isn’t a bad strategy). His other purpose is to steal irridium to do some comic book science with the Tesseract. The proto-Avengers get Loki to surrender and on their way back to base, Thor re-captures Loki to get him to chill the fuck out and come back to Assguard with him to no avail. Instead all of them head back to S.H.I.E.L.D. and put Loki in the cell that had previously been reserved for Dr. Banner in case of a Hulk sighting (here’s a question: if Banner was already Hulking out, how was Fury intending on getting him into the cell? Asking nicely? Reciting his speech from PULP FICTION? Because force certainly wasn’t going to work).
It turns out this was all a part of Loki’s plan. His goons attack the helicarrier, they get Hulk to freak out, and then fuck up the engines. The end result of this attack is Loki getting away, Thor failing to subdue the Hulk, Hulk falling to the Earth super far away from New York City, but at least Cap and Iron Mang work together for the first time.
We’re running out of movie left before the final fight so here’s where everything starts to speed up. The Avengers figure out that Loki is going to open a wormhole over New York City to let in an army of extraterrestrials that would give the aliens from INDEPENDENCE DAY a run for their money. Unfortunately the Fresh Prince was not available to welcome them to Earf. In fact there were exactly 0 Will Smith’s available (Hancock would have probably been detrimental but J could have asked K to save the day). Instead, Earth has to rely on The Avengers, which turns out to work out fine.
After an epic battle that results in Loki being defeated and getting rid of the aliens by nuking the alien mothership (taking a page out of the Fresh Prince’s playbook -- imitation is the highest form of flattery). There are lots of great moments in this battle sequence, most of them involving the Hulk. This cements my argument that the Hulk is the greatest 6th man in Marvel history. You don’t want him in charge, but you can put him in the game for a healthy dose of domination when you need it. When he smashes that giant whatchamacallit he finally broke Legolas’s record for biggest death that only counts as one.
The day is saved, the team is eating shawarma, Nick Fury is telling his bosses to fuck off The Avengers are going to be a thing, and the viewer is left hoping that Tony Stark leaves Pepper Pots for Black Widow’s sexy ass in THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON.