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Avengers, The [film]

Entry updated 7 December 2016. Tagged: Film.

Film (2012); vt Marvel The Avengers US, Marvel Avengers Assemble UK & Ireland. Marvel Studios in association with Paramount Pictures. Written and directed by Joss Whedon. Story by Zac Penn and Whedon, based on the Marvel Comic by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Cast includes Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Clark Gregg, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeremy Renner and Marc Ruffalo. 143 minutes. Colour, 3D (converted).

This long-planned capstone to "Phase One" of Marvel's Cinema Universe project brought Marvel Studios' four principal franchises together in a combined sequel to Thor (2011) and Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), with a free reworking of Grant Morrison's storyline for The Ultimates which sees Loki ally with the alien Chitauri to launch an Invasion in Manhattan (see New York) via the Hyperspace portal opened up by the earlier films' Tesseract (the Cosmic Cube of the comics). Marvel's canny intellectual-property management allowed them to mount a respectable approximation of the original 1963 Lee/Kirby lineup (minus Ant-Man, whose film was still in development, but with the addition of post-Kirby arrivals Hawkeye and Black Widow; Ant-Man's partner Wasp substituted for the latter in Whedon's early drafts till Johansson confirmed), though a script proved tricky to crack before Whedon's attachment. The main plot elements were in place under experienced Marvel screenwriter Penn, but ensemble veteran and old rewrite hand Whedon extensively reworked the dramatic connective tissue between set pieces, skinning a fairly rudimentary and generic storyline with deft development and interaction among the established characters (Ruffalo replacing The Incredible Hulk's Edward Norton after negotiations broke down), and an efficient supply of scene poppers and dialogue zingers. The film builds cautiously on Thor's tentative embrace of the more cosmic reaches of Kirby's sf imagination, allowing the film version of the Marvel universe to embrace interstellar action at last, though the urban-armageddon scenario was very old hat after the Transformers films and Battle: Los Angeles. A huge international hit, the film was the biggest box-office success of its year, taking a billion and a half dollars worldwide, and saw Whedon confirmed as director of the sequel, Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), and promoted to an official role on the creative council overseeing Phase Two. The Avengers won the 2013 Hugo for best dramatic presentation, long form. [NL]


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