THE AVENGERS OFFICIAL TRAILER
Thinking caps on.
• Genre – it’s a superhero movie. What are the
generic conventions of this sub-genre? What
conventions does this film adopt, and which does
• 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
• 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 ever?
Marketing & Forward planning
It took four years, and five films to reach 'Avengers Assemble'.
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 marketing.
Production & creative directors
With 'Avengers Assemble', Marvel took a gamble by entrusting their flagship
property to a director with only one big screen credit.
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 jobs.
Production - a great cast
Before 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 McBeal'.
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 darker".
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
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 wink.
THE AVENGERS - HEROES
GENRE – Easy to access stereotypes
CAN YOU APPLY THE PROPP CHARACTER THEORY TO THE AVENGERS?
EVIL ALIENS - MINIONS
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
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' has 93%.
• 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 Tesseract
device 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
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
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.
Representation issues in the Avengers aren’t too challenging. Lots of
stereotypes in play to allow the audience easy to recognise and follow
• 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
• BLACK WIDOW – A classic femme fatale, an assassin who seduces her
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-
• 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 targeted.
• 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 wi