Fourteen years after breaking through the zeitgeist, there are still many entries into the Marvel Cinematic Universe that I’ve never seen. Now that I have a brand new 65-inch UHD television in my living room, I thought it might be time to change that.

Now that Marvel has announced Phase 5 of the MCU, we may as well finish off Phase 1 as we assemble Earth’s Mightiest.

The Avengers
Directed by Joss Whedon 
Screenplay by Joss Whedon 
Story by Zak Penn
Release Date: May 4, 2012 

It’s kind of stunning how well the MCU pulled this off. A bunch of disparate heroes, with movies that had different sensibilities and vastly different story arcs, all managed to get tied together through minor plot points and post-credit scenes. At the end of the MCU’s fourth year, after five other movies, is The Avengers – probably the greatest gathering of superheroes that’s ever been put on the big screen.

Continuing from the end of CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER, with Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) awaked in the modern world after 70 years on ice, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) uses Cap as the centerpiece of his Avengers Initiative. Fury needs some sort of edge, because Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is coming back to Earth with an army of aliens. Fury, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and SHIELD agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) bring in Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) to join Cap. Since Loki is involved, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) wouldn’t be far behind.

First order of business is bringing Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) back from his stint under Loki’s thrall. Also, a whole lot of in-fighting, especially between Cap, Iron Man and Thor. Most of it is caused by Tony Stark’s ego, but Thor’s inability to see past his problems with his half-brother don’t help.

While heroes battling each other before they team up to defeat the villain is a decade’s-old comic book trope, it’s done so well here because of the actors involved and the story crafted by Joss Whedon and Zak Penn. It also hints at the future problems the heroes would have with each other, mainly because of Tony Stark’s egomania and his insecurities about living up to his father’s legacy. Take, for instance, his interactions with Steve Rogers. Stark spends most of the movie razzing Rogers, a hero his father helped create and, apparently, talked about all the time. Despite giving Cap a hard time all throughout the movie, when talking to Loki about how the heroes would stop him, Stark calls Captain America “a living legend who kind of lives up to the legend.”

But he would never say that to Cap’s face.

Despite the personality clashes, when push comes to shove, the Avengers Assemble in Manhattan to face down Loki and his alien army to keep Loki from getting the tesseract. The battle is epic, with buildings getting destroyed and aliens getting smashed before Iron Man takes a nuke and uses it to close the portal the aliens were using to invade our dimension. And then they all get shwarma.

(As an aside, after seeing the Avengers come together to have shwarma, I found a food truck that served it and tried some. I am definitely a fan, and it’s all because of this movie.)

What would later be known as the Battle of New York would also give way to maybe the greatest song in the history of musical theater.

Or maybe I’m just weird.

Ranking the MCU

Well, that’s a wrap on Phase 1. Where does The Avengers rate. Let’s take a look.

  1. Captain America: The First Avenger
  2. The Avengers
  3. IRON MAN 
  4. THOR 
  5. IRON MAN 2

Next time out, we’re going back to the original well to start Phase II with Iron Man 3. Stay tuned!