Three and a half years ago, the final scenes of Iron Man promised Geek Culture worldwide that, at long last, the genre-defying shared-universe continuity that had fueled the superhero genre for decades in comics was finally going to be made manifest on the big screen. For as long as there have BEEN superhero movies, this has been the just-out-of-reach Holy Grail – “the one thing” that comics could do but movies couldn’t or wouldn’t.
But now it’s coming, in less than a year, as “The Avengers.” For now, we have the first “real” teaser trailer. As before, here we go frame-by-frame…
00:01 – 00:12 sweeping pan of city, people looking up. The “go to” visual-cues for “this is a big damn movie!” since ID4.
00:13 Gasoline explosions and flipping cars. “See? I told you this was a big damn movie!” says Mister Trailer. The voice hissing “you were meant to be ruled!” is, of course, Tom Hiddleston as Loki; late of Thor and (so far as anyone knows) the villain of the piece.
00:14 – 00:17 Telltale sign of a teaser trailer being “cut” while they’re still making the movie: People staring, fleeing or firing guns offscreen at… nothing; presumably to be filled by something large and/or flying (judging by the angles) in post-production.
00:18 – 00:23 Loki, revealed and sporting a new look since last we saw him. Most theatrical audiences seeing this before their feature probably won’t know what it is at first – at this point, are some thinking “Oh, its Thor 2 already?”
00:24 – 00:28 More gasoline-pyro, more flipping cars, more people fleeing from someone/something to be added later. All kidding aside, that’s a pretty solid “money-shot” for this sort of thing.
00:29 – 00:31 Unidentified buildings, presumably some sort of SHIELD/military installation.
00:32 – 00:35 Nick Fury exits a helicopter, cut to Marvel Studios logo. “Oh, so that’s what this is!”
00:40 Clark Gregg as SHIELD Agent Coulson, so far THE breakout supporting character of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe (and soon the ANIMATED Universe, too.) Do people know he’s also a director? He made Choke. You should see it.
00:42 From behind, left-to-right: Bruce Banner, Black Widow and Captain America. Probably safe to assume these interiors are The Helicarrier, a flying aircraft carrier SHIELD uses because… well, if you had one wouldn’t you?
00:44 – 00:45 Captain America meets his new 21st Century uniform. I’m really curious as to the context of this scene – the outfit is preserved like a museum piece, as in “this is Captain America’s gear;” but it’s NOT his actual gear (it can’t be, he was wearing said gear when he was frozen) and in fact looks like a modernized version of the “costume” he wore at USO appearances. I’d really like it if there was a “bit” about that in there, re: Cap’s legend having gotten exaggerated/embellished in the 70 years he’s been “away.”
00:46 The Mighty Thor, photographed at an appropriately-dutched angle.
00:47 Bruce Banner, in one of those situations wherein he insists we wouldn’t like him. I wonder where he “is” here, given that Banner was left as a world-wandering fugitive at the end of The Incredible Hulk.
00:48 Captain America wails on a punching bag, in one of the surprisingly few scenes repeated from the pre-teaser-teaser that was attached to the end of his movie.
00:49 Thor calls down some lightning, being the God of that particular natural force. I’m wondering what it means that he’s going bare-armed here a’la “classic” Silver Age Thor, when he had the “modern” plated-armor on the arms in his debut movie.
00:50 Black Widow is cool – you can tell, because she doesn’t look at the explosion. A shamelessly gratuitous “smoking-hot-action-girl” shot. I have no objection to this.
00:52 Jeremy Renner as “Hawkeye,” previously glimpsed in Thor. It’s funny how everyone seems to think that A.) they’re the first person EVER to notice that “man who has a bow” (and “lady who knows karate,” for that matter) are odd additions to a team already featuring an indestructible monster and a literal god; and B.) that the movie somehow won’t address this with one or more “THAT’S why we need this person!”) hero-moments.
00:53 Loki in custody, apparently. I like the idea that the Norse God of Mischief is being “perp-walked.” Also, this is pretty good evidence that Loki won’t be the only villain/threat in this – since “goes to jail” is probably a weak exit, maybe he gets grabbed somewhere near midpoint so something “new” can turn up to cause trouble.
00:54 A Quinjet – aka “airplane for Avengers who can’t fly under their own power.”
At this point, people asking “Why doesn’t Tony Stark just make wearable-fighter-jet suits for all of them???” are politely asked to stop being party-poopers and learn not to hate fun so much.
00:55 – 01:00 Tony Stark, new suit of Iron Man armor (Mark V, at this point?) – the chief revision to which seems to be the addition of silver into the traditional red/gold color scheme – and some flying. Trailer is overall a little Iron Man heavy for my tastes; I understand that he had the most popular movie of the group so far, but I still hope this doesn’t turn out to be Iron Man 3: Guest-Starring The Avengers.
01:01 – 01:06 (Most of) the team being lectured by Nick Fury. I like how Thor’s “hanging around outfit” is basically “ditch the cape.”
01:07 – 01:10 “Suiting up” montage. Another “we’re not done shooting yet” artifact to note: The Iron Man close-up is apparently a recolored shot from Iron Man.
01:11 More incidental support for the “Loki gets captured at some point” guesses – the glowy medieval weapon at the lower-righthand corner of this shot looks like the one he’s seen using elsewhere.
01:12 – 01:18 Old-fashioned, impossibly-noble, virtuous-to-a-fault Captain America and smug, thoroughly-debauched Iron Man do not get along. Thor, Viking God of Thunder, finds their oh-so-mortal clash-of-wills amusing.
THIS. This right here is what the whole franchise is riding on, and why hiring genre-dialogue specialist Whedon (not exactly a logical first choice for the biggest superhero action-epic ever, after all) to helm this: All the explosions and fights in the world won’t matter if it’s not interesting when these characters from different backgrounds and genres interact with each other.
01:19 Iron Man, again, chasing a missile of some kind. I know it’s a “given,” but I like finally seeing the Marvel heroes (instead of just Hulk) in present-day New York where they belong. Plus, Iron Man stopping a missile from hitting the city makes a nice rhyme with the “explicitly-subtle” United 93 allusions in the finale of Captain America.
01:20 Make your own Pulp Fiction joke here.
01:21 – 01:23 Cap and Hawkeye versus more explodey-cars. Sure is fun to see superheroes who can move around in their suits. May be worth noting that the enemy(?) laser-fire looks an awful lot like the Cosmic Cube-enhanced HYDRA weaponry from “Captain America.”
01:24 If you’re gonna lose a fight, might as well lose it that way…
01:25 – 01:26 Captain America. Versus. Thor. One shot. 2 seconds. Worth the 31 year wait? Absolutely.
01:27 The expected controversy over Cap using guns never materialized regarding his own movie, will it do so now that this one is “modern?”
01:28 Stark Tower, in the recent comics the “home base” for The Avengers. Much as I’d like it, I doubt this will end with these guys all deciding to be roomies from here on out.
01:29 Here’s how trailer-cutters “build” action scenes from scraps: Shot #1 (interior) looks like Loki throwing Tony Stark through the window of his Malibu mansion; while Shot #2 (exterior) is Captain America being thrown out of a different window (by someone else?) in NYC.
01:30 Thor, in the middle of the big street battle that most of the action in this seems to have been culled from. The arm-armor is back on here.
01:31 – 01:33 If you go by just the information available in this trailer, the main thrust of the film is that Loki really, really, really doesn’t like cars. Dollars-to-donuts that shot of Cap and Thor is from a wholly different context and what they’re looking at isn’t Loki.
01:36 Heh. He kinda said the title. Funny.
Um… incidentally, why has nobody said “Avengers Assemble!” yet?
01:37 – 01:41 Iron Man flying, once again. Seriously – it’s a solid trailer but there’s way, way too much Iron Man in here so far. He’d best not be the one who gets to say “Assemble!,” BTW. Captain America should get that line. Maybe Nick Fury. Not Iron Man.
01:42 The Logo – coming soon to every merchandisable product imaginable for the rest of the bloody year.
01:48 – 01:53 Gotta admit, Robert Downey Jr. really “gets” the Whedonspeak dialogue. Still too much Iron Man, yes, but what works works.
01:54 Aaaaaand there’s your new “Hulk,” ladies and gentlemen – a suitable compromise between the more realistic Ang Lee version and the more comic-accurate Incredible version.
Overall, I’d say this is an effective trailer in terms of getting general-audiences onboard for the “superhero team-up” angle and giving everyone cool action beats; but I want to see a bigger, less-frenetic version with a better grasp of what the plot is.
Also: Whoever’s been cutting these at Disney/Marvel? Look, I like Tool and Nine Inch Nails as much as anybody; but it’s time to cool it with the 90s Metal motif for all these trailers. This is the first continuity-driven superhero-epic, guys… let’s get something orchestral going on with the proper amount of portent and gravitas already.
Bob Chipman is a film critic and independent filmmaker. If you’ve heard of him before, you have officially been spending way too much time on the internet.