The Avengers

by Gil Mansergh

I am amazed how often the films based on Marvel Comics always take time to broadcast their inferiority complex. Part of this is due to the fact that Superman had already been in print for seven years before the first issue of Marvel Comics appeared in October 1939. Two super heroes appeared in that first Marvel comic book—The Human Torch and Namor the Sub-Mariner, and the fact that both of these are little known today adds to Marvel’s insecurities.


I mention this because there is a line in the new “The Avengers” movie where a character calls the stars and stripes costumed Captain America “America’s first superhero,” despite the fact that he didn’t appear in print until March, 1941. (I guess you could argue that Superman is an undocumented alien from the former planet Krypton).

“The Avengers” has received a lot of chatter on the internet because it unites several different trade-marked characters who have appeared in earlier movie blockbusters.

• In “Captain America The First Avenger “(2011) Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) was declared 4-F in the early days of WWII and ended up being turned into “the ultimate human potential” by the Army’s top-secret experiments. After Vietnam, he was cryogenically stored with orders to “defrost when needed.”

• In “The Incredible Hulk “(2008) after the brilliant scientist Bruce Banner (Edward Norton back then, Mark Ruffalo today) is accidentally exposed to a massive dose of gamma rays, he starts transforming into an invincible green giant every time he gets really, really angry.

•In “Thor “(2011) the Norse god of thunder and lightning  (Chris Hemsworth) is the son of Odin and comes from Aasgard to protect Earth after he falls in love with a human woman.

• In “Iron Man” (2008) super genius and multibillionaire industrialist Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) becomes a super hero after his heart is replaced with an electromagnetic arc reactor. He designs and wears a super-protective suit of armor that increases his strength and allows him to fly.

Black Widow appeared in “Iron Man II” (2010) as the villainous Russian-born assassin Natalia Romanova (Scarlett Johansson) who tried to seduce and destroy Tony Stark. Highly trained in martial arts, deception and interrogation, she is a human with no real super powers.

Hawkeye first appeared on screen in a cameo appearance in “Thor.” Clint Barton’s (Jeremy Renner) backstory is that he was trained as a master archer as an orphaned boy and became a circus performer. Hunted by the police for a crime he did not commit, he rescues Soviet spy Natalia Romanova when she is injured fighting Tony Stark.

In director and screenwriter Joss Whedon ‘s film, government super-spy Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) assembles these six characters as “The Avengers” to retrieve the tesseract power source from Thor’s half brother Loki (Chris Hemsworth). On the way, they will need to fight against humanity’s certain annihilation by some extraterrestrial meanies who travel to Earth via the tesseract-powered gate in the time-space-continuum.  The recruitment of each team member highlights how Robert Downey Jr. and Mark Ruffalo are acting at an entirely different level than everyone else onscreen. Downey’s Tony Stark is the inventive and quick-thinking self-obsessed true leader of the group, and Ruffalo’s portrayal of Bruce Banner as a mild-mannered biochemist constantly trying to keep a lid on his transformational anger is a perfect counterpart. While the rest of The Avengers rely on brawn and their highly developed fighting skills, Stark and Banner always use their brains before turning into almost invincible fighting machines made of either titanium steel or green-hued flesh and blood.