Marvel's 'Avengers' Movie Universe: Was it Worth It?



Captain America: The First Avenger

Full Captain America Movie Trailer

Avengers contributions: Captain America Origin / Tesseract Origin  / S.H.I.E.L.D. Origin /Hydra Introduction

As a period piece, Captain America: The First Avenger had more freedom than any other Marvel movie (besides Iron Man) to tell an isolated, character-driven story. No matter how you feel about director Joe Johnston's handling of the action sequences; the inclusion of Nazi space-age lasers; or the contrived second-act montage that left things open for Captain America sequels to once again explore the character's WWII adventures - First Avenger, at the very least, told a great story about how a wimpy kid from Brooklyn realized his dream to become a real American hero.

The film is also a great example of universe building done the right way: While telling its own story, First Avenger also laid the groundwork for the entire age of Marvel superheroes to follow - including the technological race that would give birth to Iron Man; the super-solider research that would give birth to The Hulk; the revelation of Asgard's ancient history with Earth; the start of advanced terrorist organizations like Hydra, and the coming together of specialized agents that would rise to combat them (S.H.I.E.L.D.).

Red Skull (Hugo Weaving ) Holding the Cosmic Cube

Captain America (which was, in part, guided by Avengers director Joss Whedon) found a coherent and relevant way to fit its narrative and character arcs around the convoluted frame that Marvel had designed - primarily by treating its various crossover elements as incidental to the story of the character around whom they revolved. To put it simply: the film did its job (told a story) and left the rest to comic book fans to geek over and piece together - and then explain to their friends.

Verdict: If not for that lackluster montage in the middle, First Avenger would be a perfect example of how to balance story in a shared movie universe. Instead, that honor goes to The Avengers



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