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Mega Marvel Rewatch: The Avengers

And now we get to the entire reason I'm even here. Iron Man might have been the instigator of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I'd been watching from pretty much the beginning, but my first viewing of The Avengers was the event that took me from "person who enjoys a series of movies" to full-blown fangirl. Not until The Avengers did I start writing fic, poring through reams of meta and writing my own, squeeing non-stop over gifsets on Tumblr. A combination, I think, of a few things: a fun and appealing team dynamic, the characterization of Steve Rogers hitting just the right notes in my fic writing brain, an exciting new pairing in Clint/Natasha, and having a whole bunch of people on Tumblr to fangirl with. Fandom is at its best as a community experience, and it's not often that I've been catapulted into the rush of a new fandom with so many other people at once. (The closest I can think of is Cinders, and that was on a much smaller scale.)

Because I am so fannish about this movie, and I feel like I've spilled quite a lot of virtual ink on it already (though mostly on Tumblr, therefore making it somewhat difficult to find), I'm not sure how much I have to say about this rewatch, but a few thoughts.

This is one of only two MCU soundtracks that I own (Winter Soldier is the other), and I listen to it a fair amount -- it makes excellent background music for writing as well as certain types of work. There's always something just a little bit odd about watching a movie when I know its soundtrack really well -- the music becomes tied to other, unrelated contexts, and I anticipate both the next scene and the next measure more than I would otherwise. I don't think this is a bad thing, necessarily, but it can be jarring.

It's interesting to watch this movie directly after seeing Thor. The last scene I saw before this was Selvig meeting Fury (in a space that looks an awful lot like this underground complex) and agreeing to look at the Tesseract, a decision probably influenced at least in part by Loki. And that leads us directly into the Tesseract "misbehaving" -- but without the break provided by The First Avenger, it's easy to forget how much time has passed. Although we never get an exact timeline, Natasha's later comment to Bruce about having gone more than a year without "an incident" suggests that The Avengers is set at least a year after Hulk/IM2/Thor. We never find out how much Loki might have been influencing events in between these scenes, but it's certainly a strong possibility.

I'm always a little startled to remember that this is the first time we ever meet Maria Hill. She might not show up very often in the later movies or Agents of SHIELD, but she's always a presence in the back of my mind, as important to SHIELD as Coulson and maybe even as Fury.

The moment at the end of the prologue, when Fury looks into the distance, and we smash cut to the title as the main theme begins for the first time, always gives me a jolt of fannish glee and a great big smile. I could see this movie a hundred more times, and it would probably still make me bounce in my chair with happiness.

We could be here all day debating Joss Whedon's strengths and weaknesses as a writer and director; I'm not particularly interested in arguing any aspects of those debates right now (maybe another time), but I do want to note how much I love his use of scene transitions in this movie. Maybe some of them are a little on-the-nose (one example: Fury saying he needs soldiers to fight a war right before the cut to Steve with the punching bag), but that's kind of what I like about them. He saves the more blatant transitions for the sweeping statements, the ones establishing character, and lets the rest of them work on a more subtle level.

As always, seeing so many SHIELD agents gathered together brings up thoughts of HYDRA, and what they might be trying to achieve behind the scenes here. Particularly given that we have at least one known HYDRA agent, in Sitwell (who actually appears for the first time in Thor) -- although I'm sure I'll have more to say about Sitwell later. I think it's reasonable to assume that HYDRA has no interest in seeing Earth conquered by the Chitauri and having Loki in charge (can you imagine HYDRA trying to control Loki? He'd run circles around them), and so they'd have no reason to work against the rest of SHIELD. I do wonder if the HYDRA turn had already been planned at this point, and if so whether Joss knew about it. My understanding is that the Agents of SHIELD production team knew from the very beginning of production, but that didn't come until almost a year later. There are no hints at all, not even if you know what to look for, so I tend to think that aspect of the plan came later. But anything is possible.

From this point, my thoughts pretty much devolve into a jumble of happiness and sadness and general random glee. Most of the things I would say about the threads this movie ties together I've already mentioned in previous posts in this series, and other thoughts I want to save for my discussions of Agents of SHIELD (assuming I get to it), so I guess I'll just wrap it up here. But I do want to note just how satisfying this film was, and still is, how well it holds up to rewatching both on its own and as a piece in the larger MCU puzzle.

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