The phrase “It’s all connected” completely and emphatically encompasses the May 4, 2012 release of Marvel’s The Avengers. Never before (and possibly even after) its release had fans been more insanely excited about a single Marvel movie. In this article, part six of our MCU retrospective leading up to Doctor Strange, we’ll take a stroll down memory lane and remember the movie that is still near the top of the list when you ask most Marvel fans to name their favorite Marvel movies.
Preceding The Avengers were solo movies for Iron Man, Hulk, Thor and Captain America. Also introduced in those movies were Nick Fury, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Maria Hill and Agent Phil Coulson as well as our villain, Loki. As a matter of fact, there were actually hardly any new characters in The Avengers and that was perfectly ok because the lure of the movie was the fact that we were about to see how the previous five movies were “all connected.”
My family and I were right there in the middle of all of the hype. You see, we were introduced into the amazing Marvel universe not through the comics, but through the movies (and later the television shows as well). Even though we had only been Marvel fans a short time compared to some, I distinctly remember literally having goosebumps and tears in my eyes watching that first trailer. Who could forget seeing this for the first time?
Are you kidding me? Look at that. Doesn’t that one photo just bring back the most amazing memories? There were other scenes in the trailers that got me too – Hulk catching Iron Man and sliding down the building…Thor flying through the air, slamming Mjolnir into Captain America’s shield…Loki wreaking havoc on New York City….even Stark clowning Banner about a “big green rage monster.” The hype for this movie wasn’t like anything else.
We were fortunate enough to score tickets to an early screening – three weeks early! We got there hours early to make damn sure we got in and got good seats. The excitement in the air was tangible and although I don’t recall any specific conversations, the experience of waiting out there to see this movie was unlike anything I had experienced.
As difficult as it is for a blockbuster to live up to such hype, The Avengers far surpassed what even the most cynical Marvel fan had hoped for. The movie was big…huge, and on opening night the theater crowds were cheering from the moment they saw the MARVEL logo on the big screen.
The scenes we had already seen in the trailers had the crowd cheering. But there was plenty that we hadn’t already seen that got the crowd worked into a frenzy. The humor in this movie had the crowd laughing more than you would hear in most comedies. “He’s adopted” was a surprise. Hulk punching Thor off of the screen was so unexpected. Not to mention the final blow that defeated Loki – Hulk smashing the “puny God” into oblivion. Which still is, in my opinion, one of the two best all-time moments in MCU history (along with Vision picking up Mjolnir in Age of Ultron).
As a side note, my wife totally missed Hulk smashing Loki because she ran out of the theater for about two minutes to use the restroom. Remember Marvelites: manage the bodily functions; you never know what you might miss! The worst part – because we were seeing it three weeks early, she had to wait that long to finally see it! Epic fail.
It would seem that in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, no one ever dies. But with Joss Whedon directing, no one is safe. The Avengers did lose a friend of course, in Agent Phil Coulson. No one, and I mean no one saw it coming. Like Hulk smashing Loki it was sudden and a total shock when it happened. I remember crying. I remember grown men screaming “NOOOOOO!!!!” as if they had just witnessed someone close to them being killed right in front of them. Shortly after it happened, our theater was eerily quiet and the part of the film that followed the death of the Son of Coul was sullen and quiet. You could literally hear people weeping (you’re tearing up just reading this, admit it). Fans were so stricken by Coulson’s death that they would later create #CoulsonLives and it was the fans that resurrected Coulson, who would of course later become the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. and have his own TV show Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
By the time The Avengers was released, fans knew better than to leave the theater when the ending credits rolled–but this time there was not one but two post-credit scenes. One was a simple but hilarious clip of all of the Avengers sitting at a shawarma restaurant having dinner after the Battle of New York had ended, referring to Stark’s earlier comment about “have you ever tried shawarma?” It took us a few viewings of the movie to even notice that the Shawarma Palace restaurant was actually in the movie during the battle.
The second post-credit scene did actually introduce someone new, someone who to this day we still haven’t seen all that much of – Thanos. But not to worry, The Avengers: Infinity War isn’t far ahead. Thanos of course was hinted at earlier in the movie when The Other talked to Loki about the power that “He” had given him. I still don’t think Loki ever realized that he was in possession of two of the six Infinity Stones at one time (the Tesseract and the gem in his scepter).
The movie wound up blowing up the box office, to the tune of $1,518,594,910 worldwide. Fans overwhelmingly LOVED The Avengers and many of them wound up seeing it multiple times in the theater. I am either proud or embarrassed to admit that we saw it no less than thirteen times in the theater. Still a record for our family; we clearly couldn’t get enough.
Naturally we have since watched the movie many more times at home. But we recently had a chance to view it in the theater one more time during the Captain America marathon that was held at the El Capitan Theater in Hollywood. The marathon included Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America; Civil War. I thought the event would be fun, but it was way better than expected. Seeing The Avengers in the theater once more, with a few hundred crazed Marvel fans like ourselves was an experience I will never forget. The crowd laughed, cheered and yes cried again, just as we all did on May 4, 2012.
While this movie is no longer the “best Marvel movie” in my opinion (I currently have my top three at Winter Soldier / Civil War / Guardians of the Galaxy) I don’t know that anything will ever top the experience of seeing The Avengers for the very first time.
Next up, Tony Stark returns in Iron Man 3!