Chapter 7.5 “Loki’s Bargain (2)” 31:38 – 37:26
Logline: The Avengers arrive at S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters and try to locate Loki and the Tesseract.
The Sequence. Every movie like this needs some indulgent glory shots. We need to show off the Enterprise, the Millennium Falcon, and now SHIELD headquarters (I’m not writing it as an acronym from here on out). There’s a lot of shots of the fortress rising into the air, grand music cues, and long pans through control rooms.
Though more important, there’s a sense of the Avengers actually beginning to assemble. Steve Rogers meets Natasha and Dr. Banner. Nick Fury, Maria Hill, and Agent Coulson are all back in one place…
The Big Picture. … though notably, Tony isn’t here, Thor hasn’t even entered the picture yet, and Hawkeye is brainwashed. Those character’s later appearances in the headquarters keeps a feeling of things constantly refreshing themselves, but there’s still enough characters here to lend a sense of a team being formed.
Actually, with the team half assembled, Banner’s brainpower, and SHIELD’s resources, it feels as though the threat is well in hand. There’s no reason they shouldn’t find Loki fast. And maybe surprisingly, that’s just what happens.
31:48 – Over the establishing shot we hear a muted version of the Avengers theme, and know that this is the scene in which the team starts to come together even before a superhero appears onscreen.
32:41 – Nice to see that Rogers treats Banner well.
34:11 – Hayden Christensen in a bit part! How far he’s fallen.
34:37 – Samuel L. Jackson is 100% playing this scene as though he expects a pirate wheel to be digitally inserted in front of him later.
36:31 – Don’t you love mind control eyes? It was such a staple of animated shows, and it was always to clue in the audience when someone is being controlled, but why did other characters never look at them and be like “Jesus man your eyes are literally spirals. What’s happening to you?” It tickles me to see that revived for the big screen.
Chapter 8. “Stuttgart Confrontation” 37:26 – 42:50
Logline: Captain America and Iron Man must together capture Loki when he appears (sans Tesseract) in Germany.
The Sequence. We’re about to go into “reading too much into a summer blockbuster” territory, but it can’t be helped; this relatively short chapter is about the indomitable spirit of humanity. The beginning of this movie is mainly a series of introductions to larger than life characters. This is a sequence about what they’re fighting for… us.
On the surface this is one of those cliched “it’s murder intercut with operatic music” scenes. But maybe it’s not hacky, maybe there’s a point. Maybe the timelessness and beauty of classical music is the point. And the beautiful architecture of the opera house. And that fearless old German man not willing to be intimidated by a dictator. This scene shows us all things humanity that are good, and how we stand up to a force that belittles us but does not understand us.
The Big Picture. As we’ll see when we cover Skyfall later, 2012 was the year of villains who surrender suspiciously early in the movie and allow themselves to be put in glass cages. Loki’s capture seems to happen way too soon, and the audience knows it.
37:53 – Playing off the need for old fashioned, Roger’s uniform is the one colourful thing in the room.
38:05 – One of my favourite shots. Elegant and distant, but with so much impact to the hit.
38:42 – Does Tom Hiddleston pull off dapper with that mullet?
39:00 – Almost borrowing a cue from movies like Texas Chainsaw Massacre here, the use of sound effects to make a moment gruesome even if nothing is seen onscreen.
39:47 – Look at the offhandedness of Loki destroying a police car in the background.
41:24 – You know I love love love the German guy, clearly old enough to have been alive in World War 2, who fearlessly stands up to Loki. But then in a classic instance of going past the moment, Captain America arrives and is like “HEY LOKI YOU REMIND ME OF HITLER.” Less is more.
41:35 – People start gradually standing up as the scene goes on.
Chapter 9. “Mountaintop Battle” 42:50 – 50:25
Logline: The Avengers are transporting Loki back to SHIELD when Thor appears with his own ideas for what to do with his brother.
The Sequence. Obligatory. There’s no way around it. If you’re doing a big crossover film, the heroes have got to fight each other before they can team up. It’s actually not my favourite scene in the movie. There’s a feeling as Thor and Iron Man duke it out that this is all just here because a scene like this ought to be in a superhero team up movie, not because the story demands it.
The Thor and Loki moment is a necessary follow up to Thor, and the one moment in the movie that’s not really accessible if you’ve only seen The Avengers. And this is on me and not the MCU, but I’d thought Thor was a Clash of the Titans type mythology flick. I hadn’t seen it and had no idea what this scene was about. When I saw the movie later is was kind of in one ear and out the other, so I still don’t.
In the end, the best thing about the sequence is all these unstoppable forces meeting unmovable objects. How does Thor’s hammer fare against Captain America’s shield, or against Iron Man’s armor? Later we’ll see Hulk try to lift Thor’s hammer, and Hawkeye going up against Black Widow. Even though they’re all part of the same brand, the scene does evoke the feeling of sitting in your childhood bedroom, and having your action figures from different movies fight it out. It’s not enough to make this scene spectacular, but it’s what made The Avengers unique (at least in 2012).
The Big Picture. Loki has his chance to escape and doesn’t. Hrrm.
By the way how does Thanos tie into this, knowing his MO? Why is it worth subjugating or even attacking humanity? Is Loki softening everyone up for Thanos to come in and do his “kill half of everyone” schtick? Does conquering Earth get him closer to the Infinity Stones?
43:25 – If you’d asked me to remember The Avengers I would have bet a million dollars that Cap and Iron Man came to blows in this movie and was surprised that it didn’t happen, until I remembered the literally entire movie about them fighting that happened a few years later. Good that they leave themselves somewhere to go.
43:51 – Thor does get a pretty badass entrance, making up for how things have really been underway for a while without him.
44:42 – Rogers mentions his belief in God. Whedon is one of the more outspoken atheists out there but he’s one of the few people I can think of who writes heroic Christian characters.
44:44 – Nearly identical shot here to Tom Cruise leaping out of the plane in Mission Impossible 6. You can really feel the difference when it’s done for real.
45:24 – The dark lighting in this scene is just about as realistic as it can be without being just full on impossible to see.
47:00 – First of two moments where Thor is knocked out of frame. I like the other one better.
47:20 – “Does mother know you wear her drapes?” Oh thank God, Iron Man really lets the air out of this scene.
47:54 – There’s Loki not even trying to get away.
48:10 – Thor’s got the Skyward Sword!
50:25 – And the scene ends without us even seeing how they recapture Loki.
Behind the Scenes
-Whedon has no explanation for how Thor was able to track down Loki after arriving on Earth, hopes that the entrance is cool enough for you to not notice.
-For a long time Whedon wanted a villain other than Loki, thinking he wasn’t powerful enough to carry a film. I’d argue that he doesn’t but I think it’s a good thing, again, a superhero team-up movie shouldn’t be overshadowed by its villain.
-It does seem like Iron Man vs. Thor was the one scene that was out of Whedon’s hands, it was mandated by Marvel when he joined the project and he had to use some storyboards for the fight that had been hanging around since the first Iron Man. Whedon doesn’t come across like he thinks this was a bad idea that was forced upon him, but that might explain why this fight is so flimsily motivated.