Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Teaser Trailer: The Avengers

Expansive superhero teams present filmmakers with a unique challenge.  It’s hard enough to tell the story of a single character.  Trying to sufficiently handle a group of said characters can be a logistical nightmare.  How does one divvy up the screen time in a way that appeases general audiences and remains true to the source material?  How can multiple subplots and characters arcs be organized into something resembling a coherent and streamlined story?  Logically, the most popular and/or marketable characters will take center stage while the others are relegated to the background.   Such problems have plagued both the X-Men and Fantastic Four film franchises to varying degrees.  In the face of such odds, Marvel Studios presses on with the grand experiment that is The Avengers,  the most ambitious production of its kind thus far.   

The Avengers is, of course, the massive superhero team that consists of Marvel’s most recognizable characters.  Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) recruits Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), and Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) to be a part of the “Avengers Initiative.”  Operating under the close supervision S.H.I.E.L.D, the Avengers defend the earth from all manner of threats, be they superhuman, supernatural, or extraterrestrial.  They must also learn to work together effectively as team.  This just might prove impossible, seeing as how their divergent powers, backgrounds, and temperaments make for a truly volatile mix.  

Joss Whedon has been entrusted with bringing this superhero ensemble to the big screen.  That’s no small honor, considering the sheer weight of the undertaking.  This Herculean effort represents the culmination of Marvel Studios collective efforts over the past few years.  Pretty much every film they have released since May of 2008 has been leading up to this.  Iron Man was a runaway success while The Hulk, Thor and Captain America enjoyed relatively modest returns by comparison.  Now that all of these characters are appearing in the same film, it will be interesting to see just how each ones mythos will be incorporated into the overall mix.  Three characters are firmly grounded in sci-fi and superhero lore, while one is a transplant from Norse mythology. 

The trailer reveals a film that seems to have been constructed by a fairly steady hand clasping firmly on a short leash.  The visual style isn’t particularly distinct, nor does it seek to maintain fidelity with that of previous Marvel Studios films.  Visually it exists in a sort of limbo that makes up the nucleus of the Marvel cinematic Universe.  The scale is visible right from the outset.  A series of explosions carpet bomb a Manhattan street, flipping cars like dominoes.   The pyrotechnic display starts at the furthest end of the street and progresses forward towards the camera.  Interior shots of industrialized military bases and so forth are shown.  Everything has an angular, detailed air to it.  Each character is revealed in strobe-like montage fashion.  They are then shown during combat reveling in large scale destruction while saving the earth.

The Avengers looks and feels very calculated, as though it was conceived as a decisive military strike instead of a summer blockbuster.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as it shows that Marvel means for this film to be a resounding success.  Nothing is being left to chance.  There will be ample amounts of large scale action and a superhuman brand of heroism.  Still, it’s slightly troubling how precise and regimented this trailer feels.  Iron Man and Thor were informed by their main characters respective personalities.  They carved out their own niche while still seeming part of a larger whole.  It’s reassuring to know that Joss Whedon and company are taking this seriously, but one hopes they allowed themselves to have at least a little fun along the way.   

Click here to view the trailer over at apple.com.

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