AVENGERS ASSEMBLE CASE STUDY
THE AVENGERS OFFICIAL TRAILER
Thinking caps on. • Genre – it’s a superhero movie. What are
generic conventions of this sub-genre? What conventions does
this film adopt, and which does it challenge?
• Narrative – Can you identify the 5 narrative stages? The
narrative pathway? Narrative features? Narrative roles?
• Representations – Are the characters presented to us as
traditional binary stereotypes? Or are we looking at morally
ambiguous post-modern types?
• AUDIENCE – Who? How targeted? Successful?• INSTITUTIONS – What
do you know about the
media institutions behind the production of this film?
• MARKETING – Do you remember this film coming out? Was there
any hype? What advantages did this film have due to the institution
that produced & marketed it?
Why was this film a success?
• To say 'Avengers Assemble' has enjoyed success would be an
incredible understatement. It exceeded all expectations by taking
the biggest ever opening weekend in the US — a whopping $207
million (£128 million) - and did it by beating the previous holder
of that title, 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2' by
almost $40 million.
Its current worldwide takings means it's passed its target to
break the $1.5 billion mark.
But why is 'Avengers Assemble' one of the most successful films
Marketing & Forward planning
It took four years, and five films to reach 'Avengers
First Marvel's newly founded film wing introduced 'Iron Man' to
the world, with a wise-cracking Robert Downey Jr. as its lead back
in 2008. A scene following the film's credits teased an eventual
'Avengers' film, but plans weren't set in stone until the film
proved a runaway success.
The other superheroes in the team, Hulk, Captain America and
Thor, each had their own movies as well, which set up each of the
lead characters and familiarised the audience with the concepts of
the Marvel universe and smaller characters like Black Widow.
It's a film that in effect had four years of heavy
Production & creative directors
With 'Avengers Assemble', Marvel took a gamble by entrusting
their flagship property to a director with only one big screen
While critically lauded, geek god Joss Whedon's debut 'Serenity'
was still a flop. However his work on cult TV shows 'Buffy the
Vampire Slayer' and 'Firefly' & script writing on ‘Toy Story’
proved that he was adept at writing and directing ensemble pieces.
He also had experience with Marvel, having written a string of
X-Men comics in 2004.
Whedon proved to be the perfect man for the job, skilfully
dividing up screen-time between the heroes, the supporting
characters and the villain, without ever detracting from the
overall story. And he did it all with a keen sense of humour,
making the film funnier than most mainstream comedies.
His hiring followed the Marvel pattern of leftfield directors:
'Elf' helmer John Favreau took care of 'Iron Man' and its sequel
while Kenneth Branagh 'Thor'. All three ended up doing fine
Production - a great castBefore Robert Downey Jr. became 'Iron
Man' in 2008, he was best known (to many) for stints in rehab,
Wayne Gayle in Natural Born Killers and a part in 'Ally
The film made him a massive movie star, and set the blueprint
for Marvel thinking outside the box when it came to their leading
men and women.
Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth both nailed their parts as the
American golden boy Steve Rogers and Norse god Thor, neither of
which were what were expected. Then there's Tom Hiddlestone and
Mark Ruffalo, two indie darlings who undoubtedly steal the show in
'Avengers Assemble'as Loki and The Hulk respectively.
In fact, the most recognisable stars involved weren't even
super-powered, Samuel L. Jackson and Scarlett Johansson.
Critics of Marvel will say the infamously tight studio casts
this way because they don't like to pay top-tier wages, but the
strategy has paid off so far.
Genre - The Avengers is FUN
The most creatively bankrupt way of evolving a series is to "go
As the years went by 'Harry Potter' got bleaker while
'Spider-Man' went from light romp to emo-inspired rubbish. Only
Chris Nolan's Batman trilogy got away with it because it was dark
in the first place.
Avengers have bucked this trend. Across the five build-up films
and 'Avengers' promotion, the sense of fun has never diminished.
They remain bright, colourful films that are entirely self-aware
and proud of their super-hero comic book heritage.
Inherently ridiculous and damn proud, the Avengers chime into a
deep-set feeling of nostalgia that everyone has. A nostalgia for
movie stars that quipped more than they frowned and for larger than
life characters who fight for good and do it with a nod and
THE AVENGERS - HEROES
GENRE – Easy to access stereotypes
CAN YOU APPLY THE PROPP CHARACTER THEORY TO THE AVENGERS?
EVIL ALIENS - MINIONS(THE CHITAURI)
LOKI - ANTAGONIST(THOR’S EVIL BROTHER)
Marketing – using universal praise
The Los Angeles Times called 'Avengers Assemble' "smartly
thought out and executed with verve and precision", while the
Hollywood Reporter said it was "engineered to charm the geek core
and non-fans alike".
And that's the point. Films based on comic books have an inbuilt
core audience that will usually watch them no matter what. But for
a superhero franchise to appeal outside the fanboy set — and make
loads of money - they need positive word of mouth. Which typically
means good reviews.
It's no coincidence that the two most successful superhero films
ever are also the most critically lavished. Right now 2008's 'The
Dark Knight' has a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and 'Avengers'
NARRATIVE• Plot Summary:1. A prologue of sorts tells us BIG
POWERS are coming to Earth to smash and
destroy and take back the mysterious Tesseract. The stage is set
for Big Action. International peacekeepers S.H.I.E.L.D. have
located the mysterious Tesseractdevice along with the US Army's
WWII super soldier, Captain America. We discover the Tesseract is
actually a gateway to a new world called Asguard. A mysterious
being known as Loki arrives on Earth and immediately assumes that
he can rule all human beings. Being a super-powered God he gets
what he wants.
2. As Loki escapes with the Tesseract, S.H.I.E.L.D. director
Nick Fury assembles a team of super heroes: Dr. Bruce Banner, who
turns into the Hulk; Tony Stark and his Iron Man armour; Steve
Rogers / Captain America; Thor, the god of thunder, (and Loki's
half-brother); Master Assassins Barton / Hawkeye and Romanoff /
Black Widow. Together they will become a team to take on an attack
that will call them to become the greatest team of all time.
3. But things don’t go smoothly for the newly founded team and
setbacks help mould the team long enough for them to see how they
need to unite to save Earth.
4. The film draws together multiple narrative strands and works
together to bring an extended climatic battle scene in the heart of
New York city in good old fashioned Hollywood style.
5. The resolution is of the heroes winning, and an epilogue sets
the scene for future Avengers movies and single character spin
offs, of which the film grew out of.
REPRESENTATIONRepresentation issues in the Avengers aren’t too
challenging. Lots of stereotypes in play to allow the audience easy
to recognise and follow characters.
• CAPTAIN AMERICA – Nice guy, Alpha Male, leader of the team,
threatens to hit people who don’t conform.
• IRON MAN – Joker, playboy, billionaire genius who enjoys a
fight.• THOR – traditional macho male. A warrior God!• HULK – split
personality, nice guy scientist / uber hyper masculine male
monster!• BLACK WIDOW – A classic femme fatale, an assassin who
victims. Now she kills for the good guys…• HAWKEYE – mind
controlled assassin, sidekick / false hero.• NIK FURY –
African/American “cool” kick ass boss of the Avengers.• COPS – Dumb
cops to showcase how powerful the Avengers are.• LOKI – evil
mastermind megalomaniac villain with inferiority / superiority
issues. (played by a British actor, of course)• MINIONS – The
Chitauri – evil aliens, outsiders, minions, cannon fodder.
AUDIENCE - TARGETING
• Who is the primary target audience?• Fans of The Avengers – a
well established fan base of
comic book fans. Having launched in the 60’s, the upper age may
be 65? The fan base is cross-generational.
• The stereotypical comic reader may well be 15-25 and nerdy, as
epitomised by shows like The Big Bang Theory, but Marvel’s Avengers
has tapped into the cool geek chic and mainstreamers are also
• With the noted pull of pester power, the younger demographic
have been appealed to with masses of merchandising (handily
advertised in the film!)
AUDIENCE - POSITIONING• This is a traditional Good vs Evil film
with the audience
rooted firmly behind the wholesome Avengers.• The morally
dubious characters – the assassins
Hawkeye and Black Widow now work for SHIELD defending the Earth
and are good guys. The rage monster Hulk only kicks off when he is
battling evil (or manipulated). Iron Man is cool, he tells jokes,
is a rebel and listens to rock music – what’s not to like there?
And Captain America stands for old fashioned, traditional American
values. We just love him.
• And the bad guys are ugly and not from around here. There’s
more of them and they don’t play fair.
• Its easy to get behind the Avengers and root for the good
• With audience expectation so high this film was expected to do
• It did amazingly well.• With a budget of $225 million it
boasts a big cast and
top end SFX.• It took $1.5 billion at the box office. • In the
US alone it made another $200+ million in DVD
& BluRay sales.• This made it the 3rd best selling film of
all time when
released, behind James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ ($2.7bn) &
‘Titanic’ ($2.2bn). (This year ‘Jurassic World’ nudged past it,
putting the Avengers into 4th place.)
AUDIENCE - DEBATES
• As the film has had so much hype, been linked to the ever
growing Marvel Cinematic Universe the debates around the film
revolved around who got the most screen time, whose characters were
two dimensional, did it do the franchise justice, and who would win
in a fight against DC’s Batman etc.
• As the film has spawned more spinoffs on TV, sequels for the
individual characters and more Avengers movies, I think it safe to
say the debates are … academic.
INDUSTRY - PRODUCTION
• The Avengers Assemble (UK) is the 3rd highest grossing film of
all time, produced in 2012 by Marvel Studios, a subsidiary of
Marvel Entertainment, which is owned by multinational conglomerate
corporation Walt Disney.
• Marvel Entertainment also made a deal with games development
company Ubisoft to bring out a video game “Avengers: Battle For
Earth”, however it is only available for Xbox 360 and the Wii
• It had a total budget of $220 million, but it made over $1.5
billion in the box office.
• All-star cast including Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson,
Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, Tom
Hiddleston, Clark Gregg and Samuel L Jackson.
How is The Avengers an example of Synergy?
Film – Marvel StudiosSoundtrack – Marvel MusicGaming – “The
Avengers: Battle For Earth” Xbox 360 (Microsoft) and Wii U
(Nintendo)DVD – Blu Ray, DVD, Digital Download (iTunes)Other
companies in charge of merchandise such as toys, posters, clothing,
The preliminary films such as Captain America: The First
Avenger, Iron Man 1 and 2, Thor and The Hulk 1 and 2 acted as free
promotion for the film, with hints of the next film at the end of
Marvel are BIG onHoardings and Posters
Production & Technology
High production values
Lead to great CGI and
IMAX footage, plus post
Production 3D all helped
With the film’s wow factor.
Game-tie ins were just part
Of the tech based merchandise.
The Avengers also had a game on
Facebook: Avengers Alliance, which
Was another part of their marketing
INDUSTRY – CONTEXT & BACKGROUND
THE IDEAThe film was based on THE AVENGERS comics by Stan Lee,
which were all published by MARVEL COMICS (another subsidiary
company of MARVEL ENTERTAINMENT).
It’s estimated that 125-135 million copies of the 600
monthlyissues of the main AVENGERS title have been sold.
THE AVENGERS comics had two spin-off animated TV series:
The Avengers: United They Stand The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest
There were also three animated films made by MARVEL ANIMATION
Ultimate Avengers Ultimate Avengers 2 Next Avengers
As you can see there is an established fan base, and a push to
hit a younger demographic.
Produced by MARVEL STUDIOS
Which is owned by MARVEL ENTERTAINMENT
Which is owned by THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY
Walt Disney’s Movie Empire!!
Disney have 5 Major Companies in the top 20 Production
Own the following film studios: (Which tend to be aimed at a
much younger audience)
They also own the following media companies:
They make other media products such as: cable television,
publishing, theme parks, broadcasting, radio, and web portals
meaning they can use synergy to mass market films.
And they are finalizing a takeover of Fox
INDUSTRY – MARKETING & PROMOTION
• The film was promoted at the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con
International, during which a teaser trailer narrated by Samuel L.
Jackson was shown followed by an introduction of the cast.
• In August 2011, Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar Animation Studios
and Marvel Studios presented a look at Walt Disney Studios'
upcoming film slate, which included The Avengers, at the D23 Expo
in Anaheim, California. The presentation featured footage from the
film and appearances by the cast members.
• Later in August, Disney dismissed Marvel's executive vice
president of worldwide marketing, vice president of worldwide
marketing and manager of worldwide marketing to bring their
INDUSTRY – MARKETING & PROMOTION• In October 2011, Marvel
Studios held a presentation at the New
York Comic Con that featured new footage and a panel discussion
including producer Kevin Feige and several cast members.
• The first full-length trailer was also released in October.
The trailer, which debuted exclusively on iTunes Movie Trailers,
was downloaded over 10 million times in its first 24 hours,
breaking the website's record for the most-viewed trailer. This
record was surpassed by the trailer for The Dark Knight Rises,
which was downloaded more than 12.5 million times in its first 24
• A second full-length trailer was released on iTunes in
February 2012, reaching a record 13.7 million downloads in 24
hours. The theatrical trailers of The Avengers appeared with many
films, including Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, 21 Jump
Street and The Hunger Games.
INDUSTRY – MARKETING & PROMOTION• In January 2012, Marvel
Studios held a global Twitter chat.
The 30-minute live tweeting event featured writer/director Joss
Whedon, cast members Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Hiddleston and Clark
Gregg and a 10-second tease of the 30-second Super Bowl commercial
that would air during Super Bowl XLVI in February.
• According to the Los Angeles Times, Disney paid an estimated
$4 million for the 30-second spot.
• On May 1, 2012, executives from Marvel Studios, along with
actors Tom Hiddleston and Clark Gregg, rang the opening bell of the
New York Stock Exchangein honour of the film's theatrical
Poster Campaign• The original “darker” format was dropped for
climatic battle poster that is now well known.The observant
amongst you may notice some costume changes. Initially Captain
America wears his old costume. And Hawkeye actually looked like his
comic book superhero character!
A series of individual posters showcasing the characters was
released with May 4th
being the only text other than the title.On all the pictures the
element of teamwork is also present.
Promotional Partners• In February 2012, it was announced that
Marvel has partnered with fragrance company JADS to promote The
Avengers with character-based fragrances. The announcement was just
ahead of the Toy Industry Association's annual February exhibition,
where representatives held a sampling booth of the products.
• Other promotional partners include bracelet-maker Colantotte,
Dr Pepper, Farmers Insurance, Harley-Davidson, Hershey, Land O’
Frost lunchmeats, Oracle, Red Baron Pizza, Symantec, Visa, and
Wyndham Hotels & Resorts.
• In total, Marvel and its parent-company Disney secured an
estimated $100 million in worldwide marketing support for the
• Notable exclusions include Baskin-Robbins, Burger King and
Dunkin' Donuts, who had partnered with Marvel in the past when
their films were distributed by Paramount. • Disney does not
generally promote through fast food outlets.
FACEBOOK GAME: AVENGERS ALLIANCE
INDUSTRY - REGULATION• The DVD/Blu-ray version of MARVEL
is classified 12. It differs from the theatrical version
submitted to the BBFC which is classified 12A. This is largely due
to the moderate fantasy violence in the film.
• In publishing the Extended Classification Information (ECI)
for the DVD/Blu-ray MARVEL AVENGERS ASSEMBLE, a technical error
occurred and the theatrical ECI was published on the BBFC website
instead of the DVD/Blu-ray ECI.
• The theatrical ECI highlights a scene in the film where the
tip of a spear is seen protruding from a man’s chest. This scene
was absent from the DVD/Blu-ray MARVEL AVENGERS ASSEMBLE and does
not appear in the DVD/Blu-ray ECI. The website error has now been
rectified and the correct ECI for the DVD/Blu-ray is now
Regulation - BBFC
INDUSTRY – GLOBAL IMPACT
INDUSTRY – DISTRIBUTION & EXHIBTION
• US Domestic Total Gross : $623,357,910• Distributor : Buena
Vista Release Date: May 4, 2012• Genre: Action / Adventure Runtime:
2hrs. 22 min.• MPAA Rating: PG-13 Production Budget: $220
• Total Lifetime Grosses• Domestic: $623,357,910 41.2%• +
Foreign: $888,400,000 58.8%• = Worldwide Takings: $1,511,757,910
Cinema’s Highest Grossing Franchise!
Marvel Studio Totals
US Box Office$8,359,925,748
Worldwide Box Office $20,477,663,992