And, this being the internet, if I leave anything out, I'll never hear the end of it.
So let's take a look at the largest crossover in film history and see whether it holds up after the initial amazement over the idea wears off.
|No pressure, or anything.|
Much like the first one in Michael Bay’s Transformers series, this film begins with a deep voice telling us about some kind of all-powerful cube. But this is not the Allspark, this is the Tesseract, which you might remember from the post-credits stinger of Thor and all of Captain America: The First Avenger.
As the camera pans around some kind of space-throne…. room? I only add the question mark because there isn’t much in the way of walls, or a ceiling, or even air, presumably.
|I guess they really wanted to be able to see that broken moon from any angle.|
???: “And the humans… what can they do, but burn?”
We then cut to a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility where, for the moment, humans are doing things other than burning. A plaque on a wall refers to this place as “Project Pegasus,” which is a nifty shout out to the same organization from the comics. Get used to that, there are a metric butt-ton of Easter Eggs like that. Anyway, the place is being evacuated because things are getting a mite dangerous. But that’s exactly why Agent Phil Coulson is waiting for a helicopter to land. Not because it’s there to evacuate him, but because it’s there to drop off the guy who might just be able to exercise some control over whatever’s going on. Nick Fury, Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Samuel L. Jackson), Phil Coulson, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Clark Gregg), and Maria Hill, Fury’s second-in-command (Cobie Smulders), have finally assembled to take charge.
|"I'm sure the three of us can nip this issue in the bud without any problems."|
Nick Fury: “NASA didn’t authorize Selvig to go to test phase.”
Agent Coulson: “He wasn’t testing it. He wasn’t even in the room. Spontaneous event.”
Since then, the energy levels have steadily increased, and Selvig’s lack of control is what led them to order the evacuation. Fury tells Coulson to get everybody out ASAP, and continues down to the Tesseract lab while Agent Hill lets him know that with how powerful the Tesseract is, there might not be anywhere to be able to evacuate to.
Nick Fury: “I need you to make sure the Phase 2 prototypes are shipped out.”
Agent Hill: “Sir, is that really a priority right now?”
Well, The Avengers is the end of Phase 1 of the MCU, so you guys should probably do that pretty soon.
Hill goes to obey the order, and Fury heads up to Dr. Selvig and wants to know exactly what’s going on.
Dr. Selvig: “The Tesseract is misbehaving.”
Apparently, the Tesseract has been developing a set pattern of “behavior,” and for all intents and purposes, it’s deliberately acting out. Fury notes that since the whole point of these experiments is to gather energy, they should be able to do that when the Tesseract goes off. Except that the Tesseract itself is throwing out radiation and interference specifically to mess with that.
Dr. Selvig: “Nothing harmful, low levels of gamma radiation.”
Nick Fury: “…That can be harmful.”
Fury wants to see Agent Barton, aka Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), who’s been skulking about up in the catwalks, so he slides down on a rope to talk to Fury.
Nick Fury: “I gave you this detail so you could keep a close eye on things.”
Agent Barton: “Well, I see better from a distance.”
|“You know, Barton, there’s a little thing called ‘corrective lenses.’”|
Agent Barton: “If there was any tampering, sir, it wasn’t at this end.”
Nick Fury: “At this end?”
Agent Barton: “Yeah, the Cube is a doorway to the other end of space, right? Doors open from both sides.”
Except for, like, revolving doors.
But the Tesseract starts crackling, and the building begins to shake a bit as…yep. Of course.
|Yet another opportunity for me to reference the portal from Hellboy.|
But instead of putting it down, he uses it to fire a few energy blasts to assert his dominance. When there prove to be too many S.H.I.E.L.D. guys with guns, he decides to simply toss some blades into their necks. Apparently, some fans think he's still just a big sweetheart who needs a hug. I'll be getting to that.
When Loki makes his way to Agent Barton, he tries a different tactic and uses the spear to flood Barton’s heart with deep blue energy, taking over his mind. Fury, thinking quickly, uses the opportunity to try and hide the Tesseract in its convenient carrying case while Loki converts further agents, but Loki’s no fool. He wants the Cube. And he wants it now.
Loki: “I am Loki. Of Asgard. And I am burdened with glorious purpose.”
Dr. Selvig: “Loki? Brother of Thor!”
|“Nice guy, nice guy. Didn’t mention you at all, though. Hey, do you know how he’s doing?”|
Loki: “An ant has no quarrel with a boot.”
|"Well, that's not entirely true."|
Loki: “I come with glad tidings.”
For unto us a child is born, right? Man, I knew I should have posted this Recap closer to Christmas.
Anyway, Loki spews some crazy about how “freedom is life’s great lie,” and he’ll free the world from freedom, brainwashes Dr. Selvig with his staff, and generally acts more unhinged than ever. Agent Barton tells his new master that Fury’s banter is just stalling for time because the place is going to blow in about two minutes, which Selvig confirms. So Barton shoots Fury, grabs the Cube-case, and the villains hightail it out of there in some commandeered S.H.I.E.L.D. vehicles. Agent Hill participates in an exciting chase scene while Fury manages to escape in a helicopter right before the place collapses. Fury shoots at Loki from his chopper, but a single energy blast knocks both him and it to the ground. Loki speeds off in the back of his new car, having definitely earned five stars for that little stunt.
So after telling Hill to organize the emergency/investigation services, Fury tells Coulson to get to base.
Nick Fury: “As of right now, we are at war.”
|“Oh, wonderful, because we haven’t had enough of those in the past few decades.”|
And after the title of the movie gives us a rather large hint, the movie continues in an abandoned Russian building, where, having apparently lost her cushy job at Stark Industries, Agent Natasha Romanoff, aka the Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson), is tied to a chair, getting tortured for information by some typical old Russian general. He and Natasha talk in Russian for a bit, and it seems as though I’ve hit a little snag in my recapping.
|No subtitles. Uh oh.|
|Justin Hammer knows my pain.|
|Are you freaking kidding me?|
Anyway, now that I have subtitles, I can confirm that Black Widow is getting interrogated, but is using selective wording and her apparent helplessness to trick the guy into giving her information. As the guy prepares to rip out her tongue to send a message, one of his goons’ phones rings and it’s Agent Coulson. He demands to talk to the guy in charge and tells him that if he doesn’t have the phone over to the Black Widow, then boom. Confused, he hands her the phone.
Agent Coulson: “We need you to come in.”
Black Widow: “Are you kidding me? I’m working.”
But when she hears that Agent Barton was compromised, she puts Coulson on hold so she can unleash a can of whoop-ass on her “captors.” While tied to a chair. At first. My personal favorite is they guy that she takes out with her hair. It’s probably supposed to be her headbutting him, but it’s clear that only her hair makes contact with the guy’s face.
|Her hair is tougher than you are.|
Agent Coulson: “But first, we need you to talk to the big guy.”
Black Widow: “Coulson, you know that Stark trusts me about as far as he can throw me.”
Agent Coulson: “No, I’ve got Stark. You get the big guy.”
|"Hey, that's what happens when you don't show up to meetings.|
Think twice next time you want to break up the largest weapon smuggling ring in Asia."
But instead of a big guy, we cut to a little girl running through the streets of some kind of Indian city until she comes across Mark Ruffalo. Apparently, he’s a doctor, and she needs one to help her family. But when he follows her back to her “house,” the little girl runs off and Natasha enters to talk to him.
Black Widow: “You know, for a man who’s supposed to be avoiding stress, you picked a hell of a place to settle.”
Yes, Mark Ruffalo is the latest Bruce Banner, following the short runs of Eric Bana and Ed Norton. He’s a bit bulkier then those guys, though. His bone structure is a bit stockier, and he’s got a bit of a belly. But keep in mind, the guy routinely turns into a literal hulk. Perhaps every time he changes back, he gets a bit stockier? And he guy’s been hanging out in India. With food like that available, no wonder he gained a little weight.
Bruce: “Avoiding stress isn’t the secret.”
|"Avoiding samosas isn't the secret either. Thank goodness."|
Bruce and Natasha have a polite, if tense, conversation. He asks if she’s there to kill him, and she explains that S.H.I.E.L.D. needs his help.
Bruce: “How’d they find me?”
Natasha: “We never lost you.”
He asks the two important questions: What if he says no? And what if… “the other guy” says no?
Natasha: “You’ve been more than a year without an incident; I don’t think you want to break that streak.”
|You'd be surprised, Natasha.|
Bruce: “I’m sorry. That was mean.”
Bruce asks her to put the gun down to keep the other guy from making a mess, and she orders the men surrounding the house to stand down, as well.
|Meaning that she was totally lying earlier.|
Council Member: “Which is why we should be focusing in Phase 2.”
|“We all know this movie will be successful. Let’s get cracking on cranking out Iron Man sequels!”|
|“Even putting aside all our problems with Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man, Robert Downey Jr. is reaching the end of his contract; we need to figure out if an Iron Man 4 is even possible.”|
Nick Fury reminds them that wars are won by soldiers, so he goes to visit one in a repeat of the post-credits scene of Captain America, where Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is working out in an old gym. But this time, after flashing back to World War II…
|And a quick flash of the unthawing process...|
Steve: “Trying to get me back in the world?”
Nick Fury: “Trying to save it.”
Fury explains that when Howard Stark was looking for Steve, he found the Tesseract. And since then, they’ve been trying to use it to create free energy. But some super-powerful alien named “Loki” just snatched it up, and they want Cap to go kick his butt.
Nick Fury: “The world has gotten stranger than you already know.”
Steve: “At this point, I doubt anything could surprise me.”
Nick Fury: “Ten bucks says you’re wrong.”
And with a final word of advice regarding the Tesseract….
Steve: “You should have left it in the ocean.”
We cut to the ocean, where Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) is doing some kind of repair work to an underwater power cable before flying back to his latest achievement in showing off, Stark Tower. As he and Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) discuss, he just took the tower off the grid, meaning that it’s fully powered by the clean energy of a giant Arc Reactor.
|Energy which it will then waste with a giant illuminated sign.|
JARVIS: “Sir, Agent Coulson of S.H.I.E.L.D. is on the line.”
Tony Stark: “I’m not in.”
After a nice little effects sequence where an automated walkway takes his armor off as he walks, JARVIS continues to insist, and Tony continues to not give a single crap about Phil Coulson. He meets up with Pepper on the top floor, and they engage in the typical banter of the Iron Man films. Because when Robert Downey Jr. is part of any conversation, this is just how he talks.
|Also, Stark Tower is about the same size as the Empire State Building. Just wanted to point that out.|
Tony Stark: “An argument could be made for 15.”
Pepper: “12%. My baby?”
Tony Stark: “Well, I did do all the heavy lifting. Literally. I lifted the heavy things.”
As the champagne gets poured, he promises that the next building will say “Potts” on the side shortly before Coulson hacks into his phone.
Tony Stark: “You have reached the Life Model Decoy of Tony Stark.”
Which is, of course, a reference to S.H.I.E.L.D.’s robotic duplicates of Nick Fury and others from the comics, but not the films, as of yet. Although I’m sure none of the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents will find themselves in a dangerous enough position to warrant the use of a robotic body double in this movie.
|He said knowingly....|
Pepper: “Phil! Come in.”
Tony Stark: “Phil?”
Agent Coulson: “I can’t stay.”
Tony Stark: “Uh, his first name is ‘Agent.’”
Coulson tries to hand him some S.H.I.E.L.D. files to look at, but Pepper takes them because he still doesn’t like to be handed things. Not even when it’s Susan Storm handing it to him.
|Oh, what a difference a few years can make, huh?|
Tony brings up that not only was the Initiative scrapped, but he didn’t even end up qualifying for it. But he looks at the digital files anyway, and Pepper decides to head out to D.C. for some Stark Tower-related press coverage a day early. But before she goes, she whispers a few sweet nothings into his ear. And I can’t help but wonder what kind of sexcapades she’s promising him to get that look on his face.
|"How many satsumas?"|
|"Will... will that even fit?"|
|"All I heard was 'satsuma.' And I'm still wishing I went to get the big guy instead."|
Agent Coulson: “Banner thought Gamma radiation might hold the key to unlocking Erskine’s original formula.”
Yeah, well, it might have helped if you guys actually told Banner he was working on the super Soldier Serum. That’s right, I can remember plot points from The Incredible Hulk.
Agent Coulson: “When he’s not that thing, though, guy’s like a Stephen Hawking.”
|It really took me this long to reference Buffy in a Joss Whedon film?|
And this is where Agent Coulson starts geeking out over meeting his childhood hero officially.
Agent Coulson: “I watched you while you were sleeping.”
|Ten bucks says Coulson volunteered to play the nurse when Cap woke up.|
Steve: “Aren’t the stars and stripes a little old-fashioned?”
|Yeah, well, things were worse when you ditched them, Cap.|
The Other: “Against the meager might of Earth?”
Loki: “Glorious. Not lengthy.”
Loki’s bit can be summed up as “Don’t rush me, I used to be King of Asgard.” The Other’s bit can be summed up as “My boss pulled your fat out of the fire, buddy. Give us results.”
|Look out! He's got two thumbs! That's one-fifth more bad touch per hand!|