Marvel has more than gotten the ball rolling with their movie universe's 'Phase Two,' thanks largely to the overwhelming success of The Avengers. But before fans of the film and its preceding introductions get too far ahead of themselves, understanding exactly what went into making The Avengers a reality is worth taking a break.
Those who have yet to pick up or watch The Avengers Blu-ray (no, not that one) have yet too see the wealth of cast and crew interviews, deleted scenes, and making-of documentaries outlined in our review of the home video release. Disney has posted online a few choice samples to provide a peek behind the scenes, free of charge.
Much has been made of Joss Whedon's role in crafting The Avengers almost single-handedly, with specific attention to his desire to have actors read their lines exactly as he has written them. That takes guts when the actor in question is none other than Samuel L. Jackson, but the following clip highlights the director's tendency of 'Writing for Visual Moments,' of which The Avengers had plenty:
One of the more surprising aspects of The Avengers, and possibly a reason Whedon wanted Jackson to keep so closely to his script, is just how much the character of Nick Fury is from the actor's recent work. Calm, nuanced, and choosing few words aren't qualities one usually thinks of first when describing the actor, but the director's characterization of the S.H.I.E.L.D. boss as far more than 'The Narrator' of the film speaks to Jackson's skill:
Stunning visuals and iconic actors aside, there's no way of avoiding the fact: the team-up wouldn't have been possible without Robert Downey, Jr. The charisma and likableness of his Tony Stark first drew fans in, and Joss Whedon subtly injected smaller doses of leadership into the foundation of cocky bravado. But as the 'Leader of the Band' featurette shows, his role in guiding the cast went beyond his time in front of the camera:
While Downey, Jr's Iron Man may have played a large role in the team being as...eccentric as it turned out to be, he's not the most intriguing member. It may be hard to believe, but Stark wound up in not just a battle of integrity with Captain America (Chris Evans), but a battle of wits with Dr. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo).
Banner is set to blaze a trail of his own with the upcoming 'Hulk' TV series, but the group of three - The Avengers' boldest, bravest, and most vulnerable - looks to be promising for the next few years, according to the 'Captain and the Hulk' clip:
A team that super requires transportation to match, and comic book fans saw how committed Whedon and Marvel were to staying true to the source material. The S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier ran the possibility of drawing guffaws or scoffs from movie audience, but Whedon explains how the time spent crafting a machine both fantastic and just believable enough was accomplished:
Those who may have been too awestruck by the film to keep up with news may have missed out on the extended scenes and Maria Hill-focused alternate opening of The Avengers. The deleted sections included with the Blu-ray show a more poignant introduction into Steve Rogers' new reality, as well as a longer version of Mark Ruffalo's awakening in a damaged warehouse post-Hulking.
A name like 'The Incredible Hulk' doesn't imply a particularly introspective character, but Bruce Banner does spend time contemplating his identity (so that's what he does when he isn't 'pissed off'?), as evidenced by this extended scene:
With this amount of talent compiled into one place, and the pressure riding on it being a success, there's always a need to let off some steam. Clearly Joss Whedon isn't the 'disciplinarian' type when it comes to bloopers or flubbed lines, if the attached Gag Reel is any indication:
The 12-minute Marvel Short Item 47 is also included with the Blu-ray, starring Lizzy Kaplan (Mean Girls) and Jesse Bradford (Guys With Kids) and expanding the fiction of the films into non-super characters, while providing a hint at what a S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series might explore. Check out the short tease entitled 'Neutralize':
The significance of The Avengers extends far beyond what's shown in the final cut, marking the culmination of no fewer than five motion pictures. The film's animation director believes Marvel's plan was the right one, and their DC competition would be wise to do the same, but the credit must lie with the cast and crew for pulling off a remarkable film. For a closer look at how it was done, what better way than delving into the extra features accompanying the film itself?
The Avengers Blu-ray Combo Pack is available for purchase now. You can also order the 4-disc Blu-ray 3D version.
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