- “Let's do a head count here: your brother, the demi-god; a super-soldier, living legend who kind of lives up to the legend; a man with breathtaking anger management issues; a couple of master assassins and YOU, big fella, you have managed to piss off every single one of them.”
- ―Tony Stark to Loki
The Avengers (also known as Marvel's The Avengers and classified in the UK and Ireland under the title Marvel Avengers Assemble) is a 2012 American superhero film produced by Marvel Studios and Paramount Pictures and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, based on the Marvel Comics superhero team of the same name. It is the sixth installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the first installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe not distributed by Paramount Pictures or Universal Studios.
The film is written and directed by Joss Whedon and features an ensemble cast that includes Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders, Stellan Skarsgård, and Samuel L. Jackson. In The Avengers, Nick Fury, director of the peacekeeping organization S.H.I.E.L.D., recruits Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk, and Thor to form a team that must stop Thor's brother Loki from enslaving the human race.
Development of The Avengers began when Marvel Studios received a loan from Merrill Lynch in April 2005. After the success of the film Iron Man in May 2008, Marvel announced that The Avengers would be released in July 2011. With the signing of Johansson in March 2009, the film was pushed back for a 2012 release. Whedon was brought on board in April 2010 and rewrote the screenplay originally written by Zak Penn. Production began in April 2011 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, before moving to Cleveland, Ohio, in August and New York City in September. The film was converted to 3D in post-production.
The Avengers premiered on April 11, 2012, at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, California. The film received positive reviews from most film critics and set or tied numerous box office records, including the biggest opening weekend in North America and the fastest film to gross $1 billion. The Avengers grossed $1.51 billion worldwide and became the third highest-grossing film of all time at the time of its release (behind Avatar and Titanic). It was the first Marvel film to gross over $1 billion. The film was released on Blu-ray Disc and DVD on September 25, 2012. A sequel to be written and directed by Whedon is scheduled for release on May 1, 2015. It is currently the seventh highest-grossing film of all time (behind Avengers: Endgame, Avatar, Titanic, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Avengers: Infinity War and Jurassic World) and the highest-grossing film of 2012. It is the fourth highest-grossing film released by Disney as well (behind Endgame, The Force Awakens, and Infinity War).
Loki is planning his assault on Earth. He has made a deal with a group of aliens called the Chitauri: they will give him an army to attack Earth, and in return, he will provide them with the Tesseract - a blue cube that provides limitless power - so they can take over the rest of the universe. The Chitauri present Loki with a sceptre he can use to obtain the Tesseract.
Nick Fury has been called to a secret underground government research facility. The government has been studying the Tesseract, trying to harness its power as an energy source. The Tesseract has been behaving strangely lately, hence why Fury has been called in. Professor Selvig is one of the scientists who has been studying the Tesseract, and a soldier named Hawkeye is guarding the cube as well.
As soon as Fury arrives, the Tesseract emits a huge bolt of light and Loki materializes. The government soldiers attack, and Loki knocks them silly with his sceptre. He uses the sceptre to touch Barton and Selvig on the chest, turning them into zombies who have to obey his command. Barton helps Loki steal the cube and escape, and meanwhile, the bolt of light from the Tesseract continues to expand, exploding the underground lab. Fury barely escapes.
The Black Widow is tied up in an old warehouse, tortured and beaten by Russian thugs. The Russians believe they are interrogating her, but in actuality, she is subtly extracting information. Mid-interrogation, her phone rings. Fury wants her to leave her current job and go find "the big guy." Romanoff breaks her bonds, knocks out the Russians, leaves for India.
Bruce Banner is working as a doctor in India, whilst hiding from the government. Romanoff lures Banner to a nearby house and convinces him to help locate the Tesseract. Because the Tesseract emits gamma rays and Banner is an expert on gamma radiation, Romanoff thinks he is the best person to track it down. If the Tesseract falls into the wrong hands, it has the energy potential to wipe out the world. Fury is talking to the council of his secret government agency, Shield. The council wants him to use "Phase 2" to get the Tesseract back. Fury says that Phase 2 is not complete - he wants to use The Avengers Initiative instead.
Fury goes looking for Steve Rogers / Captain America. Rogers is working out at a boxing gym. Fury tells Rogers about the Tesseract and explains that the Howard Sark found it in the ocean when they were looking for Rogers. Fury asks Rogers if he knows anything about the Tesseract that he should know. Rogers replies with "You should have left it at the bottom of the ocean.". Fury enlists Rogers to help with its recovery. Stark is soldering a new arc reactor to power the massive Stark Tower he just built in the center of Manhattan. Agent Phil Coulson interrupts Stark's work to explain the Tesseract problem.
Meanwhile, Loki has taken the Tesseract, Professor Selvig, and Barton to his own secret underground lab. Loki instructs Selvig to use the Tesseract to build some kind of device. Selvig says he will need iridium. While Selvig works, Loki uses his sceptre to communicate with the Chitauri. The Chitauri are extremely brutal, and they warn Loki that they will make his life a living @#!*% if he fails in his task.
Back to Agent Coulson, who takes Rogers to a giant military ship where they meet up with Banner and Romanoff. The ship morphs into an air vehicle and takes off out of the water. Bruce is extremely uncomfortable being on an airship, considering his "condition." Rogers, Banner, Romanoff, and Fury are all attempting to locate Loki. Using satellite facial recognition, they see he is attending a gala in Stuttgart, Germany. Loki and Barton break into the gala to steal some iridium, which is being held in an underground vault. Barton is still mind-controlled, and he brutally dispatches the guards with his bow and arrows.
Once the iridium is in their possession, Loki dons his gold armour and helmet and demands that the crowd of gala attendees kneel before him. Most of the people kneel, terrified by his ability to appear and disappear, but one old man refuses. Loki is about to execute him with his sceptre when Steve Rogers intervenes, in full Captain America uniform. Loki blasts Rogers with his sceptre, and Tony Stark flies over in his Iron Man suit and blasts Loki right back. Stark and Rogers subdue Loki and take him back to the airship via a smaller jet (Barton has escaped with the iridium). En route to the airship, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) smashes into the jet and steals Loki. Stark chases after Thor, and Rogers grabs a parachute to follow.
Down on the ground, Thor tells Loki he needs to give up his plan to rule the earth and come home to Asgard. Loki refuses. Stark slams into Thor and Stark and Thor do battle in the woods until Rogers interrupts them. Rogers convinces Stark and Thor that they need to work together to recover the Tesseract. They grab Loki again and take him back to the airship, where he is contained in a glass cell. The cell has an eject button so that if Loki tries to escape, he can be dropped out of the airship.
In the airship lab, Stark and Banner bond over their super-genius skills. Both Stark and Banner are suspicious of Fury – they don't believe he's telling them everything about the Tesseract. Stark plans to hack into the airship database, but while he's working on it, Rogers breaks into a secret storage area to do some snooping of his own.
Meanwhile, Romanoff visits Loki in his cell. She demands to know what he's done with Barton. Romanoff owes Barton a debt, because back when she was an assassin, Barton was hired to kill her. Instead, he gave her the chance to go straight and work for SHIELD. Loki taunts Romanoff, and it appears that she is breaking down. She cries, "You're a monster!" and Loki says, "I'm not the one who brought the monster on board." Instantly, Romanoff's tears disappear and she says, "So that's your play. You're trying to use Banner."
As Romanoff discovers Loki's plan, Rogers finds evidence of "Phase 2." Rogers and the other Avengers confront Fury – SHIELD has been trying to use the Tesseract to make super-powered weapons. Fury admits it's true: when the government was confronted with Thor and the other demi-gods, they realized that humans weren't alone in the universe and they needed a more powerful way to protect themselves. Thor says that's stupid - if the humans try to use the Tesseract, they'll only attract the attention of evildoers across the universe.
While the Avengers are chewing out Fury, Barton is sneaking up on the airship with a group of soldiers. Barton shoots an explosive arrow at the airship, blowing up one of the engines. The Avengers are blasted in every direction. Romanoff is trapped under a pile of rubble, and next to her, Banner starts morphing into the Hulk. He tries to stop the transformation, but he can't. Romanoff struggles free of the rubble and takes off running. The Hulk chases after her, trying to tear her head off and smashing everything to bits. The airship is in bad shape, and Stark needs to fix the damaged engine before the other engine fails as well. Stark and Rogers work together to get it started.
Meanwhile, Romanoff is still running from the Hulk. The Hulk corners her and is about to smash her face when Thor comes plowing through. Thor and the Hulk have an epic battle in the hull of the airship. One of the random SHIELD pilots gets in a jet and tries to shoot the Hulk from outside of the airship. The Hulk leaps right out the window and lands on the nose of the jet, tearing it to bits. The jet and the Hulk plummet to the earth.
With the Avengers distracted, Barton and his soldiers infiltrate the command center. Barton uses the computer to shut down the remaining engine, then heads to Loki's cell. Thor tries to prevent Loki's escape, but is tricked by Loki's body double powers and ends up trapped in the cell himself. Romanoff attacks Barton, and Agent Coulson threatens Loki with a Phase 2 weapon prototype. Loki stabs Agent Coulson and hits the button that drops Thor right out of the airship. Thor plummets to the ground, trapped in the glass cage. Just as the cage is about to hit the ground, he uses his hammer to smash through the glass and leap free.
Back up in the airship, Stark and Rogers get the broken engine working again, and Romanoff hits Barton in the head until he finally shakes off Loki's mind control. Agent Coulson manages to shoot Loki with the Phase 2 weapon, but Loki escapes anyway and stabs his sceptre through Coulson's chest. Fury finds Coulson just as he's about to die. "It's okay," Coulson says, "The plan wouldn't work if they didn't have something to avenge." Fury gives the Avengers a pep talk about how Agent Coulson sacrificed everything because he believed the Avengers could stop Loki and save the world. Fury explains that he never supported the Phase 2 weapon – he always wanted SHIELD to rely on the Avengers instead.
Down on the ground, Thor looks around for his hammer and Bruce Banner wakes up naked in a pile of rubble. Back up on the ship, Stark is trying to figure out Loki's next move. He knows that Loki is dramatic and will want to use the Tesseract in the most stunning way possible. He realizes that the most ostentatious location would be his own Stark Tower. At Stark Tower, Professor Selvig is setting up his newly created device, powered by the Tesseract. The Tesseract shoots a huge blue bolt into the sky, and a doorway is opened to the outer space location where the Chitauri's army awaits.
Stark dons his Iron Man suit and flies to Stark Tower. Loki is waiting inside. Stark takes off his suit to approach Loki. He says, "Whether your army comes or not, we're going to beat you. And if you do manage to destroy the earth, you can be @#!*% sure we'll avenge it." Loki hits Stark in the chest with his sceptre, planning to use his mind-control trick, but the sceptre doesn't work on Stark because of his mechanical heart. Loki flings Stark out the window instead, and Stark uses a homing bracelet to call his Iron Man suit, so the suit flies out the window and catches him before he hits the ground. The gateway is open and hundreds of Chitauri warriors fly down on hoverboards. They are followed by a giant airship that looks like a flying worm. Stark blasts the hover aliens while Romanoff and Barton back him up in a jet. The giant airship shoots the jet and it crashes.
Down on the streets of Manhattan, Rogers, Barton, and Romanoff fight the Chitauri and organize the police force to help evacuate civilians. Just then, Banner rolls up on a motorbike. Stark draws the giant worm ship towards them, and Banner turns into the Hulk and smashes the giant ship to bits. The Avengers form a circle to face off against the remaining Chitauri. But the gateway is still open, and hundreds more Chitauri fly through, plus three more flying worm ships. Rogers organizes the Avengers to fight the Chitauri, and Thor uses his hammer to call down lightning and electrify the entire Chrysler building to blast one of the airships. Romanoff says, "Captain, this doesn't mean a @#!*% thing if we don't close that portal." She has Rogers give her a boost so she can jump up and commandeer one of the hoverboards to fly to the top of Stark Tower. Meanwhile, the Shield council has decided that the only way to contain the alien invasion is nuke Manhattan. Fury is freaking out because that will kill millions of civilians, not to mention the Avengers.
Upon the top of Stark Tower, Professor Selvig is hit in the head with a piece of shrapnel, ending Loki's mind control. Romanoff flies her hoverboard over to the device and Loki moves to stop her, but the Hulk grabs him and slams him into the ground. Selvig tells Romanoff that he couldn't stop himself from building the device, but he did manage to create safety to shut it off: the safety is Loki's sceptre.
Down on the ground, the Avengers are overrun with Chitauri and the nuke is on its way. Fury warns Stark, and Stark knows what he has to do. Romanoff has grabbed Loki's sceptre and she's about to shut the gateway, but Stark tells her to wait just a minute. He flies over to the nuke and grabs it mid-flight. Using the last of the power in his suit, he flies straight through the gateway with the nuke and sends it careening toward the massive Chitauri mother ship. Stark's suit dies, and he slowly falls backward as the nuke explodes the mother ship.
Romanoff sees the nuclear explosion and has to close the gateway. Just as she closes it, Stark falls through and plummets to the earth. Thor tries to grab him, but he's too far away. Just before Stark hits the ground, the Hulk snags him out of the air. Rogers pulls off Stark's helmet, but he appears to be dead. Even the arc reactor on his chest is dark. The Hulk yells in fury, and the noise jolts Stark awake. Stark, however, simply asks them if someone kissed him and if they had ever tried shawarma before.
The Avengers surround Loki, and Thor takes the Tesseract and Loki back to Asgard to face justice. The Shield council is furious at Fury and they say, "The Avengers are dangerous." Fury says, "Yes, they are, and now the whole universe knows it." The final shot is Tony Stark and Pepper Potts rebuilding the decimated Stark Tower. The letters for "Stark Tower" have mostly been blown away, so all that remains is a giant "A."
EpilogueBack in the Chitauri homeworld, the Other reports the failure of the invasion to his master, who responds by standing and gazing upon a partially destroyed planet in the distance. The Other continues to complain, citing that to challenge the Avengers will be like "to court death", which elicits a grin from his master, who turns to face the camera, revealing that he is Thanos.
Meanwhile, the Avengers eat in silence at a shawarma restaurant.
- A self-described genius, billionaire, playboy, and philanthropist with a mechanical suit of armour of his own invention. Downey was cast as part of his four-picture deal with Marvel Studios, which includes Iron Man 2 and The Avengers. Downey stated that he initially pushed Whedon to make Stark the lead revealing, "Well, I said, 'I need to be in the opening sequence. I don't know what you're thinking, but Tony needs to drive this thing.' He was like, 'Okay, let's try that.' We tried it and it didn't work, because this is a different sort of thing, the story and the idea and the theme is the theme, and everybody is just an arm of the octopus." About the character's evolution from previous films, Downey commented, "In Iron Man, which was an origin story, he was his own epiphany and redemption of sorts. Iron Man 2 is all about not being an island, dealing with legacy issues and making space for others... In The Avengers, he's throwing it down with the others".
- A World War II veteran who was enhanced to the peak of human physicality by an experimental serum. Evans was cast as part of a deal to star in three Marvel films, in addition to The Avengers. Evans said that Steve Rogers is much darker in The Avengers: "It's just about him trying to come to terms with the modern world. You've got to imagine, it's enough of a shock to accept the fact that you're in a completely different time, but everybody you know is dead. Everybody you cared about... He was a soldier, obviously, everybody he went to battle with, all of his brothers in arms, they're all dead. He's just lonely. I think in the beginning it's a fish-out-of-water scene, and it's tough. It's a tough pill for him to swallow. Then comes trying to find a balance with the modern world." Regarding the dynamic between Steve Rogers and Tony Stark, Evans said, "I think there's certainly a dichotomy—this kind of friction between myself and Tony Stark, they're polar opposites. One guy is flash and spotlight and smooth, and the other guy is selfless and in the shadows and kind of quiet and they have to get along. They explore that, and it's pretty fun".
- A genius scientist who, because of exposure to gamma radiation, transforms into a monster when enraged or agitated. Ruffalo, who was considered to play Banner in The Incredible Hulk before Edward Norton took the role, was cast after negotiations between Marvel and Norton broke down. About replacing Norton, Ruffalo said, "I'm a friend of Ed's, and yeah, that wasn't a great way for all that to go down. But the way I see it is that Ed has bequeathed this part to me. I look at it as my generation's Hamlet." About the character, he said, "He's a guy struggling with two sides of himself—the dark and the light—and everything he does in his life is filtered through issues of control. I grew up on the Bill Bixby TV series, which I thought was a really nuanced and real human way to look at the Hulk. I like that the part has those qualities". Regarding the Hulk's place on the team, Ruffalo said, "He's like the teammate none of them are sure they want on their team. He's a loose cannon. It's like, 'Just throw a grenade in the middle of the group and let's hope it turns out well!" This is the first production in which the actor playing Banner also plays the Hulk. Ruffalo told New York magazine, "I'm really excited. No one's ever played the Hulk exactly; they've always done CGI. They're going to do the Avatar stop-action, stop-motion capture. So I'll actually play the Hulk. That'll be fun". The 3D model used to create the Hulk's body was modelled after Long Island bodybuilder and male stripper Steve Romm, while the Hulk's face was modelled after Ruffalo. To create the Hulk's voice, Ruffalo's voice was blended with those of Lou Ferrigno and others; however, the Hulk's only speaking line ("Puny god.") was provided solely by Ruffalo.
- Lou Ferrigno voices the Hulk (uncredited). Ferrigno had previously played the character in the 1977–82 TV series and voiced him in 2008's The Incredible Hulk.
- The god of thunder based on the Norse deity of the same name. Hemsworth was cast as part of a multiple movie deal. He had previously worked with Joss Whedon on The Cabin in the Woods. Hemsworth stated that he was able to maintain the strength he built up for Thor by increasing his food intake, consisting of a number of chicken breasts, fish, steak, and eggs a day. When asked exactly how much, Hemsworth joked, "My body weight in protein pretty much!" He remarked that Thor's motivation "is much more of a personal one, in the sense that it's his brother that is stirring things up. Whereas everyone else, it's some bad guy who they've gotta take down. It's a different approach for me, or for Thor. He's constantly having to battle the greater good and what he should do vs. it's his little brother there... I've been frustrated with my brothers at times or family, but I'm the only one who is allowed to be angry at them. There's a bit of that."
- A highly trained spy working for the international peacekeeping organization, S.H.I.E.L.D. About the character and her relationship with Hawkeye, Johansson commented, "Our characters have a long history, they've fought together for a long time in a lot of battles in many different countries. We're the two members of this avenging group who are skilled warriors — we have no superpowers. Black Widow is definitely one of the team though. She's not in the cast simply to be a romantic foil or eye candy. She's there to fight, so I never felt like I was the only girl. We all have our various skills and it feels equal". Regarding her training, Johansson stated, "Even though Iron Man 2 was 'one-for-them,' I'd never done anything like that before. I'd never been physically driven in something or a part of something so big. For The Avengers, I've spent so many months training with our stunt team, and fighting all the other actors, it's crazy. I do nothing but fight—all the time."
- A S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and master archer who is known in the comics as the "World's Greatest Marksman." Renner said it was a very physical role and that he trained physically and practiced archery as much as possible in preparation. About the role, Renner remarked, "When I saw Iron Man, I thought that was a real kick- @#!*% approach to superheroes. Then they told me about this Hawkeye character, and I liked how he wasn't really a superhero; he's just a guy with a high skill set. I could connect to that." Regarding Hawkeye's sniper mentality, Renner stated, "It's a lonely game. He's an outcast. His only connection is to Scarlett's character, Natasha. It's like a left hand/right-hand thing. They coexist, and you need them both, especially when it comes to a physical mission." Renner said Hawkeye is not insecure about his humanity explaining, "Quite the opposite, he's the only one who can really take down the Hulk with his [tranquillizer-tipped] arrows. He knows his limitations. But when it comes down to it, there has to be a sense of confidence in any superhero."
- Thor's adoptive brother and nemesis based on the deity of the same name. In regard to his character's evolution from the film Thor, Hiddleston stated, "I think the Loki we see in The Avengers is further advanced. You have to ask yourself the question: how pleasant an experience is it disappearing into a wormhole that has been created by some kind of super nuclear explosion of his own making? So I think by the time Loki shows up in The Avengers he's seen a few things." About Loki's motivations, Hiddleston remarked, "At the beginning of The Avengers, he comes to Earth to subjugate it and his idea is to rule the human race as their king. And like all the delusional autocrats of human history, he thinks this is a great idea because if everyone is busy worshipping him, there will be no wars so he will create some kind of world peace by ruling them as a tyrant. But he is also kind of deluded in the fact that he thinks unlimited power will give him self respect so I haven't let go of the fact that he is still motivated by this terrible jealousy and kind of spiritual desolation".
- The director of S.H.I.E.L.D., who was revealed in previous films to be coordinating the "Avengers Initiative". Jackson was brought to the project with a deal containing an option to play the character in up to nine Marvel films. In April 2011, Jackson's script was stolen and leaked on the internet after a digital copy was left in a printer. Jackson stated he does more in The Avengers than in any of the previous films and joked that "You don't have to wait until the end of the movie to see me". About the role, Jackson commented, "It's always good to play somebody that is positive in society as opposed to somebody who is negative... I tried to make him as honest to the story and as honest to what real-life would seem." Jackson compared the character to Ordell in Jackie Brown, calling him "a nice guy to hang out with, you just don't want to cross him".
- A S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who works closely with Jackson's Nick Fury. Smulders, whom Joss Whedon once considered for his unproduced live-action Wonder Woman film, was selected from a short list of potential actresses including Morena Baccarin. Smulders' deal would integrate her into nine films. Regarding her preparation, Smulders stated, "I hired this amazing black-ops trainer to teach me how to hold a gun, take me to a shooting range, how to hit, how to hold myself, how to walk and basically how to look. I don't do a ton of fighting in the movie, which is why I wasn't offered a trainer, but I wanted to look like I had the ability to." On relating to the character, Smulders commented, "I can relate to her being a mom and being a businesswoman and trying to work full-time and raising a family and having a career. We're asked to do a lot of things these days. I feel she is just all about her job and keeping things going."
- An astrophysicist, friend of Thor, who's studying the Tesseract power and it's controlled by Loki. Regarding Loki's control over Selvig, Skarsgård said, "Well with the scene we did in Thor, it was like Loki, one way or the other, entered Eric's mind. And in Avengers, you will see more clarity in how Loki is using Eric's mind." About his role, he said, "[My character] is of importance but the size of the role is not big.
Clark Gregg, Stellan Skarsgård, and Gwyneth Paltrow reprise their roles from previous films as Phil Coulson, Erik Selvig, and Pepper Potts, respectively. Paul Bettany returns to voice J.A.R.V.I.S. Frequent Whedon collaborator Alexis Denisof portrays the Other, and Damion Poitier portrays his master in a post-credit scene. Avengers co-creator Stan Lee has a cameo appearance in a news report. Harry Dean Stanton also has a cameo as a security guard. Natalie Portman also cameos in a picture of Jane Foster (her character in Thor) when Coulson tells Thor that S.H.I.E.L.D has taken Jane Foster to safety. Jenny Agutter plays a councilwoman who is part of the World Security Council.
Avi Arad, the CEO of Marvel Studios, first announced plans to develop the film in April 2005, after Marvel Enterprises declared independence by pacting with Merrill Lynch to produce a slate of films that would be distributed by Paramount Pictures. Marvel discussed their plans in a brief presentation to Wall Street analysts; the studio's intention was to release individual films for the main characters—to establish their identities and familiarize audiences with them—before merging the characters together in a crossover film. Screenwriter Zak Penn, who wrote The Incredible Hulk (2008), was hired by Marvel Studios to write the film in 2007. Penn confirmed his involvement but said he did not believe work would begin soon.
In the wake of the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike, Marvel negotiated with the Writers Guild of America to ensure that it could create films based on its comic book counterparts, including Captain America, Ant-Man, and The Avengers. After the successful release of Iron Man (2008) in May, the company aimed for a July 2011 release of The Avengers, a date that was delayed a year later to May 2012. It later reached an agreement with Paramount—an extension of a previous partnership—which gave the company distribution rights for five future Marvel films.
Casting began in October 2008 with the signings of Robert Downey Jr. and Don Cheadle, who would reprise their Iron Man 2 (2010) roles as Iron Man and War Machine, respectively. Despite previous reports, Cheadle rebuked such statements in an interview with MTV News, saying that he would not appear in The Avengers. At the same time, two major prospects occurred for Marvel; Jon Favreau was brought in as an executive producer for The Avengers, and the company signed a long-term lease with Raleigh Studios to produce three other big-budget movies—Iron Man 2, Thor (2011), and Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)—at their Manhattan Beach, California complex. Lou Ferrigno, who voiced Hulk in The Incredible Hulk, stated that he would be involved in the film. In February 2009, Samuel L. Jackson signed a nine-picture deal with Marvel Entertainment to play the role of Nick Fury in Iron Man 2 and other films, acting as a vehicle for characters such as Captain America, Thor, the Avengers, and S.H.I.E.L.D.
In September 2009, Edward Norton stated that he was open to returning as the Hulk for The Avengers. The next month, executive producer Jon Favreau stated that he would not direct the film, but would "... definitely, have input and a say". Favreau also expressed concerns, stating, "It's going to be hard, because I was so involved in creating the world of Iron Man, and Iron Man is very much a tech-based hero, and then with Avengers you're going to be introducing some supernatural aspects because of Thor... [Mixing] the two of those works very well in the comic books, but it's going to take a lot of thoughtfulness to make that all work and not blow the reality that we've created". In March 2009, actress Scarlett Johansson replaced Emily Blunt in portraying Natasha Ruffman in Iron Man 2, a deal that subsequently attached her to The Avengers. An earlier draft of the script, written before Johansson's involvement, included the female superhero Wasp. Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston joined the cast of The Avengers in June, returning as Thor and Loki, respectively.
In July 2009, Penn talked about the crossover process, stating, "My job is to kind of shuttle between the different movies and make sure that finally, we're mimicking that comic book structure where all of these movies are connected... There's just a board that tracks 'Here's where everything that happens in this movie overlaps with that movie'... I'm pushing them to do as many animatics as possible to animate the movie, to draw boards so that we're all working off the same visual ideas. But the exigencies of production take first priority". The following month, Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige stated he would introduce more characters into The Avengers and that the Hulk would factor in the film.
The casting process continued into much of 2010, with the additions of Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, and Clark Gregg. Ruffalo would replace Edward Norton, who was declined the role of Hulk due to creative reason. "We have made the decision to not bring Ed Norton back to portray the title role of Bruce Banner in The Avengers," stated Kevin Feige, Marvel's president of the production team. "Our decision is definitely not one based on monetary factors but instead rooted in the need for an actor who embodies the creativity and collaborative spirit of our other talented cast members. The Avengers demands players who thrive working as part of an ensemble, as evidenced by Robert, Chris H, Chris E, Samuel, Scarlett, and all of our talented casts.
We are looking to announce a name actor who fulfills these requirements, and is passionate about the iconic role in the coming weeks." In response, Norton's agent Brian Swardstrom decried Feige's statement, calling it "purposefully misleading" and an "inappropriate attempt to paint our client in a negative light". Casting reached its final stages the following year. In February 2011, Cobie Smulders acquired the role of Maria Hill, after participating in screen tests conducted by Marvel for the role of a key member of S.H.I.E.L.D., who Samuel L. Jackson described as Nick Fury's sidekick. Over the successive months, The Avenger's cast expanded to include Stellan Skarsgård, Paul Bettany, and Gwyneth Paltrow. Paltrow was cast at Downey's insistence; prior to this, Whedon had not intended The Avengers to include supporting characters from the heroes' individual films, commenting, "You need to separate the characters from their support systems in order to create the isolation you need for a team.
In January 2010, Kevin Feige was asked if it will be difficult to meld the fantasy of Thor with the high-tech science fiction in Iron Man and The Avengers. "No," he said, "because we're doing the Jack Kirby/Stan Lee/Walt Simonson/J. Michael Straczynski Thor. We're not doing the blow-the-dust-off-of-the-old-Norse-book-in-your-library Thor. And in the Thor of the Marvel Universe, there's a race called the Asgardians. And we're linked through this Tree of Life that we're unaware of. It's real science, but we don't know about it yet. The 'Thor' movie is about teaching people that". In March it was reported that Penn had completed the first draft of the script and that Marvel editor-in-chief Joe Quesada and Avengers comic-book writer Brian Michael Bendis had received copies. Also in March In April 2010, Variety reported that Joss Whedon was close to completing a deal to direct the film, and to rework Penn's script.
Pre-productionJoss Whedon, a fan of the comics of the same name, was announced as the director of The Avengers, a notion that was first hinted by Arad and comic co-creator Stan Lee Arad stated: "My personal opinion is that Joss will do a fantastic job. He loves these characters and is a fantastic writer... It's part of his life so you know he is going to protect it... I expect someone like him is going to make the script even better". Whedon stated that what drew him to the movie is that he loves how "these people shouldn't be in the same room let alone on the same team—and that is the definition of family". In August 2010, it was reported that Paramount Pictures and Marvel Studios were planning to start shooting in February.
Simultaneously, it was declared that the film would be shot in 3D, although Mark Ruffalo later tweeted that this was not the case. In October 2010, the Grumman Studios in Bethpage, New York and the Steiner Studios in Brooklyn, New York City were sought after for as filming locations. Coinciding with the event, The Walt Disney Company agreed to pay Paramount at least $115 million for the worldwide distribution rights to Iron Man 3 and The Avengers. The deal also allowed Paramount to continue to collect the 8 percent box office fee it would have earned for distributing the film and placement of the company's logo on marketing materials. As a result, the onscreen production credit reads "Marvel Studios in association with Paramount Pictures" though the film is owned, distributed, and marketed by Disney. Paramount's Epix retained pay TV rights. Set construction began in November.
In December 2010, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and Marvel Studios Co-president Louis D'Esposito announced The Avengers would film primarily in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with principal photography scheduled for April through September 2011. Parts of the film were also scheduled to be shot in Michigan, but a plan to film in Detroit ended after Governor Rick Snyder issued a budget proposal that would eliminate a film tax incentive. Three months later in March, Ohio Governor John Kasich announced before Mayor Frank G. Jackson's State of the City address that The Avengers will film in Cleveland. Concept illustrator and designer of Iron Man's Mark VII armor Phil Saunders stated that "Joss Whedon was looking for something that had the 'cool' factor of the suitcase suit [from Iron Man 2], while still being a fully armoured, heavy duty suit that could take on an army in the final battle." To that end, Saunders borrowed ideas that had been proposed in Iron Man 2 as well as some ideas that had been abandoned in Iron Man and merged them together in a modular outfit that has big ammo packets on the arms and a backpack. The Science & Entertainment Exchange also provided science consultation for the film.
FilmingApril 25, 2011, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In June, stuntman Jeremy Fitzgerald injured his head while attempting a stunt involving a 30-foot fall from a building after getting hit by an arrow. A Marvel spokesperson later told TMZ.com that despite the injury, Fitzgerald recovered and continued working on set. The following month, secondary filming took place about an hour outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the Butler area. A chase sequence was also shot in Worthington, Pennsylvania at Creekside Mushroom Farms, the world's largest single-site mushroom farm, which provided 150 miles of abandoned limestone tunnels 300 feet below the ground for filming.
Production relocated to Cleveland, Ohio in August 2011, where filming transpired over a period of four weeks. The city's East 9th Street was chosen as a double for New York City's 42nd Street to be used in climactic battle scenes. Army Reserve soldiers assigned to the Columbus, Ohio-based 391st Military Police Battalion provided background action during the battle scenes in Cleveland. Staff Sgt. Michael T. Landis stated the use of real soldiers made the scenes more realistic and helped portray the Army in a more positive light, explaining that, "It's easy for us to make on-the-spot corrections to tactics and uniforms, the director actually took our recommendation on one scene and let us all engage the enemy as opposed to only the gunners in the trucks engaging".
Filming also took place in the large vacuum chamber at the NASA Plum Brook Station near Sandusky, Ohio. The station's Space Power Facility was used to portray a S.H.I.E.L.D. research facility. A series of explosions were filmed at the Chevrolet powertrain plant in Parma, Ohio as part of the battle sequence that began in Cleveland. Scenes from the film were also shot on Public Square and the Detroit–Superior Bridge. The southwest quadrant of Public Square was turned into Stuttgart, Germany, for filming.
Principal photography concluded in New York City, where filming occurred over two days. Filming locations in New York City included Park Avenue and Central Park. For scenes taking place in Manhattan, visual effects supervisor Jake Morrison shot aerial footage for over three days to use as background plates, elaborating that his main objective was to "get as much aerial work in as possible for the audience to see the big expenses, the wide establishing shots, while also making sure that the effects work doesn't look too computer generated"; "We're getting much better at making entirely computer-generated environments," Morrison explained, "but there is no substitute for starting with a real image and adding what you need."
Cinematographer Seamus McGarvey stated that he composed the frame with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio to cope with the varying heights of the main characters, explaining that "shooting 1.85:1 is kind of unusual for an epic film like this, but we needed the height in the screen to be able to frame in all the characters like Hulk, Captain America, and Black Widow, who is much smaller. We had to give them all precedence and width within the frame. Also, Joss [Whedon] knew the final battle sequence was going to be this extravaganza in Manhattan, so the height and vertical scale of the buildings were going to be really important."
The film was McGarvey's first venture shooting with a digital camera; the Arri Alexa. The Canon EOS 5D Mark II digital SLR camera was used for some shots and high-speed shots were captured on 35 mm film with the Arriflex 435. About his visual approach, McGarvey remarked "Joss and I was keen on having a very visceral and naturalistic quality to the image. We wanted this to feel immersive and did not want a 'comic book look' that might distance an audience with the engagement of the film. We moved the camera a lot on Steadicam, cranes and on dollies to create kinetic images; and we chose angles that were dramatic, like low angles for heroic imagery."
Post-productionIn December 2011, Disney announced that the film will be converted to 3D. About the 3D conversion Whedon stated, "Yeah, it's fun!... I'm not a big fan of an extremely long lens, talky movies - I like to see the space I'm in and relate to it, so 3D kinda fits my aesthetic anyway. And the technology has advanced so far in the past couple of years." Whedon also said that "there definitely are movies that shouldn't be in 3D" but "The Avengers isn't obnoxiously 3D. There's no, 'Oh look, we're going to spend 20 minutes going through this tunnel because it's in 3D!' And no one is pointing at the screen the entire time. But it's an action movie. Things tend to hurtle toward the screen anyway".
In January 2012, it was reported that The Avengers would be digitally remastered for IMAX 3D and set to open in IMAX theatres on May 4, 2012, the same day it opens in regular theatres. The IMAX release of The Avengers follows Marvel's release of Iron Man 2 and Thor on IMAX screens. An additional post-credits scene involving the Avengers eating shawarma was shot on April 12, 2012, a day after the world premiere.
The Avengers contains over 2,200 visual effects shots completed by fourteen different vendors including Industrial Light & Magic, Weta Digital, Scanline VFX, Hydraulx, Fuel VFX, Evil Eye Pictures, Luma Pictures, Cantina Creative, Trixter, Modus FX, Whiskytree, Digital Domain, The Third Floor, and Method Design. ILM, who previously worked on Ang Lee's Hulk, was the lead vendor and shared responsibility for creating many of the film's key effects including the Helicarrier, the New York cityscape, digital body doubles, Iron Man and the Hulk. Mark Ruffalo, who portrayed the Hulk, was on set and performed in a mocap suit with the other actors, which was filmed on four motion capture HD cameras (2 full bodies, 2 focused on his face). Jeff White, ILM's visual effects supervisor, said: "We really wanted to utilize everything we've developed the last 10 years and make it a pretty spectacular Hulk. One of the great design decisions was to incorporate Mark Ruffalo into the look of him. So much of Hulk is based on Ruffalo and his performance, not only in motion capture and on set but down to his eyes, his teeth, and his tongue."
ILM digitally recreated the vast majority of the New York cityscape used in the film. In total, ILM artists rendered an area of about ten city blocks by about four city blocks. To do this ILM sent out a team of four photographers to take pictures of the area in a shoot that lasted 8 weeks. Disney and Sony agreed for OsCorp Tower from The Amazing Spider-Man to be included in the film, but the idea was dropped because much of the skyline had already been completed.
Weta Digital took over duties for animating Iron Man during the forest duel from ILM. According to Guy Williams, Weta's visual effects supervisor: "We shared assets back and forth with ILM, but our pipelines are unique and it's hard for other assets to plug into it. But in this case, we got their models and we had to redo the texture spaces because the way we texture maps is different." Williams said the most difficult part was re-creating Iron Man's reflective metal surfaces.
Scanline VFX, completed the reveal shots of the Helicarrier, from the moment Black Widow and Captain America arrive on the carrier deck up to the point where it lifts off. Evil Eye Pictures composited digital backgrounds into shots filmed against a greenscreen for scenes taking place inside the Helicarrier. Colin Strause of Hydraulx said "We did the opening ten minutes of the movie, other than the opening set-up in space" including Loki's arrival on Earth and subsequent escape from the S.H.I.E.L.D. base. Luma Pictures worked on shots featuring the Helicarrier's bridge and incorporated the graphics monitor displays that were developed by Cantina Creative. Fuel VFX completed shots taking place in and around Tony Stark's penthouse at Stark Tower.
Digital Domain created the asteroid environment, where Loki encounters The Other. Method Design in Los Angeles created the closing credits for The Avengers. Steve Viola, creative director at Method Design, stated "This piece was a 2 minute self-contained main on end sequence created entirely in CG. For each of the shots in the sequence, we designed, modelled, textured, and lit all of the environments and many of the foreground objects. We received assets from Marvel to include in the piece, then heavily re-modelled and re-surfaced them to create a post-battle macro sequence. We also designed a custom typeface for the Main Title The Avengers as well as 30 credits set in-scene."
- Main article: The Avengers (soundtrack) In November 2011, Marvel announced that Alan Silvestri, who scored Captain America: The First Avenger, would write and compose the score for The Avengers. Silvestri stated, "This is actually a very unique experience [for me]. I've worked on films where there have been a number of stars and certainly worked on films where there have been characters of equal weight in terms of their level of importance and profile in the film, but this one is somewhat extreme in that regard because each of these characters has their own world and it's a very different situation.
It's very challenging to look for a way to give everyone the weight and consideration they need, but at the same time the film is really about the coming together of these characters, which implies that there is this entity called the Avengers which really has to be representative of all of them together." Silvestri developed the score with the London Symphony Orchestra at Abbey Road Studios in London, England. Whedon described the score as "old school", saying "the score is very old-fashioned, which is why [Silvestri] was letter-perfect for this movie because he can give you the heightened emotion, the Hans Zimmer school of 'I'm just feeling a lot right now!' but he can also be extraordinarily cue and character specific, which I love."
In March 2012, American alternative rock band Soundgarden announced through its Facebook page that its song "Live to Rise" would be included on the film's soundtrack. Additionally, the Indian rock band Agnee released a music video for its single "Hello Andheron", which serves as the theme song for the Indian release of the film. The following day, Marvel revealed details for the soundtrack, which was released May 1, 2012, the same day as the score.
MarketingThe 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 June 2011, Marvel Studios announced that it would not hold a panel at the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con International after studios executives decided it was not prepared to compete with its own past and fan expectations with filming still in production. The following month, a teaser trailer that was meant to be the post-credits scene of Captain America: The First Avenger was briefly leaked online. Entertainment Weekly speculated it came from a preview screening and described the footage as "shaky, fuzzy, flickering, and obviously filmed on a cell phone".
In August 2011, Walt Disney Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, and Marvel Studios presented a look at Walt Disney Studios' upcoming film slate, which included Marvel's 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 functions in-house.
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. Comic Book Resources said, "The two-minute teaser handily establishes the movie's premise" and is "heavy on the assembling, but fans are also treated to plenty of action, as well glimpses [sic] of Iron Man's new armour and, best of all, the new take on the Incredible Hulk. Naturally, Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark gets the best lines". However, The Hollywood Reporter called it, "Awesome. Or it would be if we hadn't seen all of this before and expected every single thing that we saw in the trailer".
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. However, this record was later surpassed by the trailer for The Dark Knight Rises which was downloaded more than 12.5 million times in its first 24 hours. A second full-length trailer was released on iTunes in February 2012, reaching a record 13.7 million downloads in 24 hours, besting the previous record set by The Dark Knight Rises. The theatrical trailers of The Avengers appeared with many films, including Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, 21 Jump Street, and The Hunger Games.
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 Exchange in honour of the theatrical release of The Avengers.
In December 2011, Marvel announced that an eight-issue comic-book prelude to the film, written by Christopher Yost and Eric Pearson with art by Luke Ross and Daniel HDR, will be released in March 2012. In February 2012, Marvel announced the release of a second limited series comic book tie-in, Black Widow Strikes written by Fred Van Lente, who wrote Captain America: First Vengeance, the comic-book prequel to Captain America: The First Avenger. The story is set between Iron Man 2 and The Avengers and follows Black Widow as she runs down some loose ends from Iron Man 2. Additionally, the title Avengers Assemble was launched in March 2012, written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by Mark Bagley and features the same Avengers line-up as the film, versus a new incarnation of the Zodiac.
Paul Gitter, president of consumer products for Marvel Entertainment, commented that the build-up to The Avengers has helped strengthen retail partnerships, "Retailers have been less tolerant with IP films, so we decided that if we started on this coordinated strategy several years ago, retailers would give us shelf space throughout the years and we would have a more sustainable position in the marketplace".
In September 2011, set photos of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) driving a new model Acura were published online. An Acura spokesperson later released a statement confirming the company's involvement with the film, "As you may know, Acura has been in the Marvel Comics Universe films as the official car of their fictional law enforcement agency called S.H.I.E.L.D. That relationship continues for The Avengers. The open-top sports car that was photographed yesterday is a one-off, fictional car that was made just for the movie and will not be produced. That said, as you may also know, our CEO has said publicly that we are studying the development of a new sports car, but we can't say any more about it at this time." In December 2011, Acura announced that a new NSX styled along the lines of the concept built for The Avengers was unveiled at the 2012 North American International Auto Show.
In February 2012, it was announced that Marvel has partnered with JADS, a fragrance company, 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, Dunkin' Donuts, and Wyndham Hotels & Resorts. In total Marvel and its' parent-company Disney secured an estimated $100 million in worldwide marketing support for The Avengers. Notable exclusions include Baskin-Robbins, and Burger King, who had partnered with Marvel in the past when their films were distributed by Paramount. Disney does not generally promote through fast food outlets.
A video game based on the film was planned for concurrent release. The game was to be a first-person shooter/brawler for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Microsoft Windows and published by THQ, with THQ Studio Australia developing of the console versions and Blue Tongue Entertainment the PC version. After THQ closed both studios, the game was cancelled. Intellectual property rights for an Avengers video game reverted to Marvel, which said it was exploring potential publishing and licensing opportunities.
In May 2012, Ubisoft and Marvel Entertainment announced that they are partnering to develop a motion-controlled game titled, Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth for the Wii U and Xbox 360 Kinect. The game was inspired by the "Secret Invasion" storyline and features 20 different characters. Marvel also announced a four-chapter mobile game titled Avengers Initiative, with one chapter focusing on each of Hulk, Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man.
ReleaseIn February 2012, Disney announced that the film's title would be changed in the United Kingdom to avoid confusion with the British TV series of the same name, as well as its 1998 film adaptation, but this led to confusion over the film's actual title. Empire magazine reported that the film would be titled Marvel Avengers Assemble while The Hollywood Reporter said that it would be called simply Avengers Assemble. Marvel's UK website refers to the film as Marvel's Avengers Assemble, although David Cox of The Guardian, in arguing that it was one of the worst film titles ever, considered this to be an error in the production notes, albeit grammatically clearer.
According to the British Board of Film Classification and the Irish Film Classification Office, the title is Marvel Avengers Assemble. Frank Lovece in FilmFestivalTraveler.com addressed the discrepancy, writing, "...The Avengers; formally titled Marvel's The Avengers onscreen, though no apostrophes appear on the posters..." Producer Kevin Feige said there are only two words in the UK title, one more than in the US title, and stated that "decisions like that aren't made lightly and there are lots of marketing research, lawyers and things that get into the mix on it".
Pre-release audience tracking showed that interest for the film was "incredibly strong", with interest very high among men and strong among women. The tracking suggested that the film could gross over $125 million during its three-day opening weekend in North America, with online ticket pre-sales selling out. Further tracking suggested that the gross could exceed $150 million. The Avengers tracked ahead of 2008's The Dark Knight ($158.4 million) and 2012's The Hunger Games ($152.5 million), which held the record for the second and third best opening weekends behind 2011's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 ($169.2 million). On MovieTickets.com, North American ticket presales during the week before release exceeded those of Captain America: The First Avenger, Iron Man, Iron Man 2, and Thor combined during the same period, by over 150 percent.
The film grossed $623,357,910 (41.2%) in North America and $888,400,000 (58.8%)in other countries, for a worldwide total of $1,511,757,910. It became the third highest-grossing film worldwide as well as highest-grossing 2012 film. It is the highest-grossing comic-book adaptation, the highest grossing superhero film and the highest-grossing film released by Walt Disney Studios. The movie's worldwide opening of $392.5 million is the third largest. It also became the fifth film distributed by Disney and the twelfth film overall to earn more than $1 billion. It reached this milestone in 19 days, matching the record for speed previously set by Avatar and Deathly Hallows – Part 2. It covered its estimated $220 million production cost 12 days after its release Its worldwide opening of $392.5 million became the third largest. It became also the fifth film distributed by Disney and the twelfth film overall to earn more than $1 billion. It reached this milestone in 19 days, matching the record for speed previously set by Avatar and Deathly Hallows – Part 2. It covered its estimated $220 million production cost 12 days after its release.
Outside North America
The Avengers became the third-highest grossing film, the highest-grossing Disney-distributed film, the highest-grossing 2012 film, and the highest-grossing superhero film. It opened Wednesday, April 25, 2012, in 10 countries, earning $17.1 million. It opened in 29 more countries on April 26 and 27, earning $73.1 million in three days. Through Sunday, April 29, it earned an opening-weekend total of $185.1 million from 39 countries. It was in first place at the box office outside North America for four consecutive weekends. The Avengers set opening-day records in New Zealand, Malaysia and Iceland, a single-day record in the Philippines, as well as both single- and opening-day records in Singapore and in Thailand.
It also earned the second highest-grossing opening day in Australia ($6.2 million), behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, in Mexico, in the Philippines, and in Vietnam. It set opening-weekend records in many territories, including Mexico, Brazil, Argentina (overtaken by Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted), Ecuador, Peru, Central America (the last two overtaken by Ice Age: Continental Drift), Bolivia, Taiwan, the Philippines, Hong Kong, and the United Arab Emirates. It also earned the second largest five-day opening in Australia ($20.2 million). In the UK, Ireland, and Malta, it earned £2.5 million ($4.1 million) on its opening day and £15.8 million ($25.7 million) during the weekend, setting an opening-weekend record for a superhero film. It is the highest-grossing superhero film in the UK. It is also the highest-grossing film in the Philippines, in Singapore, and in Indonesia. In Latin America, it became the highest-grossing film ($207 million) and the first film to earn more than $200 million.
The film became the third highest-grossing film, the highest-grossing 2012 film, the highest grossing film distributed by Walt Disney Pictures, the highest-grossing superhero film and the highest-grossing film based on comics. It opened Friday, May 4, 2012, on around 11,800 screens across 4,349 theatres, and earned $80.8 million, marking the third-biggest opening and third-biggest single-day gross, behind Deathly Hallows – Part 2 and Jurassic World. The film's Friday gross included an $18.7 million midnight run, a record for a superhero film (overtaken by The Dark Knight Rises). Without midnight grosses, the film earned the largest opening-day gross ($62.1 million). It also set a Saturday- and Sunday-gross record ($69.6 million and $57.1 million respectively). In total, it earned a total of $207,438,708 on its opening weekend, setting an opening-weekend record at the time, including an IMAX then opening-weekend record of $15.3 million (overtaken by The Dark Knight Rises) and a record for opening-weekend grosses originating from 3D showings ($108 million), which was previously held by Alice in Wonderland.
The opening-weekend audience was evenly split among those under and over the age of 25, with 60% of the audience male, 55% couples, 24% families, and 21% teenagers. Earning $103.1 million on its second weekend, the film set a record for the largest second-weekend gross, a record previously held by Avatar. Other records set by the film include the biggest weekend per-theater average for a wide release ($47,698 per theater) and the fastest film to reach $100M, $150M, $200M, $250M, $300M, $350M, $400M, $450M, $500, and $550M and the largest cumulative gross every day of release through forty-three days (with the exception of its opening day). It was in first place at the North American box office for three consecutive weekends. The film set a record for the highest monthly share (previously held by Spider-Man), with its $532.5 million total (through May 31, 2012) accounting for 52% of the total earnings at the North American box office during May.
On its second weekend, The Avengers retained first place, declining 50% to an estimated $103.2 million and breaking Avatar's record ($75.6 million) for the largest second-weekend gross, and the largest cumulative gross every day of release through 43 days (with the exception of its opening day) day of release. The Avengers received an expanded one-week theatrical push for the 2012 U.S. Labor Day weekend, increasing the number of theatres from 123 to 1,705. It grossed $1,910,701 (or $2,473,944 for the 4 days).
Upon release, the film set several records at the North American box office, including the following:
|Box office record||Record details||Previous record|
|Opening weekend for any film||$207,438,708||Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011, $169.2 million)|
|Opening week for any film||$270,019,373||The Dark Knight (2008, $238.6 million)|
|Second weekend for any film||$103,163,000||Avatar (2009, $75.6 million)|
|Summer opening weekend||$207,438,708||Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011, $169.2 million)|
|Opening weekend adjusted for ticket pricing||$207.4 million||The Dark Knight (2008, $174.7 million)|
|Opening weekend, adjusted for inflation||$207.4 million||Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011, $174.8 million)|
|Highest cumulative gross||2 - 43 days||Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011, 2 - 4 days)|
The Dark Knight (2008, 5 - 28 days)
Avatar (2009, 29 - 43 days)
|Theatre average – wide release||$47,698||Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert (2008, $45,561)|
|3D gross during opening weekend||$108 million||Alice in Wonderland (2010, $81.5 million)|
|Highest monthly share of domestic earnings||May 2012, 52%||Spider-Man (May 2002, 37.4%)|
|IMAX gross during opening weekend||$15.3 million||Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011, $15.2 million)|
|Days to reach $100 million, $150 million||2 days, 3 days||Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011, 2 days, 3 days)|
|Days to reach $200, $250, $300, $350, $400, $450 million||3, 6, 9, 10, 14, 17 days||The Dark Knight (2008, 5, 8, 10, 14, 18, 27 days)|
|Days to reach $500, $550 million||23 days, 31 days||Avatar (2009, 32 days, 38 days)|
|Days to reach $1 billion worldwide||19 days (tied)||Avatar (2009), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011)|
|Top three-day gross for any film||$207,438,708||Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011, $169.1 million)|
|Top four-day gross for any film||$226,337,707||Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011, $187.2 million)|
|Top five-day gross for any film||$244,014,897||The Dark Knight (2008, $203.7 million)|
|Top six-day gross for any film||$257,627,807||The Dark Knight (2008, $222.1 million)|
|Top seven-day gross for any film||$270,019,373||The Dark Knight (2008, $238.6 million)|
|Top eight-day gross for any film||$299,242,890||The Dark Knight (2008, $261.8 million)|
|Top nine-day gross for any film||$342,148,409||The Dark Knight (2008, $290.1 million)|
|Top ten-day gross for any film||$373,071,647||The Dark Knight (2008, $313.7 million)|
Note: While eight films have reached $100 million after two days, The Avengers' gross by the end of the second day was greater than all of these movies, including Deathly Hallows – Part 2 which held the previous record.
Note 2: This record is for the worldwide box office instead of the North American box office. The day count begins from the first day of release in any country (whether or not it is North America). While the mark was reached by all three films 19 days after worldwide release, Avatar and Deathly Hallows – Part 2 was 17 days into domestic release and The Avengers was 10 days into its domestic release.
Critical responseThe Avengers received very positive reviews from film critics. Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports a 92% "Certified Fresh" approval rating with an average rating of 8/10, based on an aggregation of 299 reviews and offers the consensus; "With a script that never forgets its heroes' humanity and no shortage of superpowered set pieces, The Avengers lives up to its hype — and raises the bar for Marvel at the movies". CinemaScore reported that audiences gave the film a rare A+ grade. On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 based on individual reviews, the film achieved an average of 69 based on 43 reviews, signifying "generally favourable reviews." For the viewers, 90% of 917,651 liked the film, higher than any Pixar film, with a rating of 4.4/5. IMDB has the film at an 8.2/10 from 534,719 votes.
Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter gave a positive review of the film, remarking "It's glamorous, the save-the-world story is one everyone's seen time and again, and the characters have been around for more than half a century in 500 comic book issues. But Whedon and his cohorts have managed to stir all the personalities and ingredients together so that the resulting dish, however familiar, is irresistibly tasty again." A columnist for The Huffington Post, Zaki Hasan was appreciative of the installment's bombastic approach and affirmed that The Avengers was the best superhero film since Superman (1978). To Rolling Stone journalist Peter Travers, The Avengers epitomized an exceptional blockbuster. "It's also the blockbuster," Travers said, "I saw in my head when I imagined a movie that brought together the idols of the Marvel world in one shiny, stupendously exciting package. It's Transformers with a brain, a heart, and a working sense of humour."
Justin Chang of Variety wrote, "Like a superior, state-of-the-art model built from reconstituted parts, Joss Whedon's buoyant, witty, and robustly entertaining superhero smash-up is escapism of a sophisticated order, boasting a tonal assurance and rich reserves of humour that offset the potentially lumbering and unavoidably formulaic aspects of this 143-minute team-origin story." Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times complimented the frenetic pace of The Avengers, while Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times commented that it "provides its fans with exactly what they desire". Conversely, A. O. Scott of The New York Times exclaimed that "while The Avengers is hardly worth raging about, its failures are significant and dispiriting. The light, amusing bits cannot overcome the grinding, hectic emptiness, the bloated cynicism that is less a shortcoming of this particular film than a feature of the genre."
The performances of several cast members was a frequent topic in the critiques. In particular, Mark Ruffalo's portrayal of Dr. Bruce Banner / the Hulk was well-received by commentators. Joe Neumaier opined that his performance was superior to the rest of the cast; "Ruffalo is the revelation, turning Banner into a wry reservoir of calm ready to become a volcano." Similarly, The New Yorker's Anthony Lane proclaimed Ruffalo's acting to be one of the film's highlights—alongside Downey. Longworth concluded: "Ruffalo successfully refreshes the Hulk myth, playing Banner as an adorably bashful nerd-genius who, in contrast to the preening hunks on the team, knows better than to draw attention to himself."
Travers asserted that the actor resonated a "scruffy warmth and humour" vibe, while Turan felt that he surpassed predecessors Edward Norton and Eric Bana in playing the character. Other actors acquired more polarizing assessments. Referring to Robert Downey, Joe Morgenstein of The Wall Street Journal—despite complimenting Downey's performance—favoured his work in Iron Man over his acting in The Avengers. "His Iron Man is certainly a team player, but Mr. Downey comes to the party with two insuperable superpowers: a character of established sophistication—the industrialist/inventor Tony Stark, a sharp-tongued man of the world—and his own quicksilver presence that finds its finest expression in self-irony."With Chris Evans, Neumaier felt that the actor accurately conveyed his character's internal conflicts.
Commentators appreciated the character development and dialogue. To Associated Press writer Christy Lemire, the script "sparkles as brightly as the special effects; these people may be wearing ridiculous costumes but they're well fleshed-out underneath." Scott suggested that certain parts of the film permeated a charm that he felt was similar to the western film Rio Bravo (1959). Karina Longworth of The Village Voice felt that while Whedon's script demonstrated the backstory of the characters, the film does not explore it "in a substantiative way".
|Golden Trailer Awards||May 31, 2012||Summer 2012 Blockbuster Trailer||The Avengers "Personal"||Nominated|
|Best Action TV Spot||The Avengers "Become"|
|Teen Choice Awards||July 22, 2012||Choice Movie – Sci-Fi/Fantasy||The Avengers|
|Choice Movie Actor – Sci-Fi/Fantasy||Chris Hemsworth|
|Robert Downey Jr.|
|Choice Movie Actress – Sci-Fi/Fantasy||Scarlett Johansson|
|Choice Movie Hissy Fit||Mark Ruffalo|
|Choice Movie Villain||Tom Hiddleston|
|Choice Movie Scene Stealer – Male||Chris Evans|
|Choice Summer Movie – Action||The Avengers||Won|
|Choice Summer Movie Star – Male||Robert Downey Jr.||Nominated|
|Chris Hemsworth (Shared with Snow White & the Huntsman)||Won|
|Choice Summer Movie Star – Female||Scarlett Johansson||Nominated|
|Hollywood Awards||October 10, 2012||Visual Effects||Jeff White||Won|
|People's Choice Awards||January 9, 2013||Favourite Movie||The Avengers||Nominated|
|Favourite Action Movie|
|Favourite Movie Franchise|
|Favourite Movie Actor||Robert Downey Jr.||Won|
|Favourite Movie Actress||Scarlett Johansson||Nominated|
|Favourite Action Movie Star||Chris Evans|
|Chris Hemsworth (also for Snow White and the Huntsman)||Won|
|Robert Downey Jr.||Nominated|
|Favourite Movie Superhero||Chris Evans as Captain America|
|Chris Hemsworth as Thor|
|Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man||Won|
|Favourite On-Screen Chemistry||Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner||Nominated|
|Favourite Face of Heroism||Scarlett Johansson|
|Critic's Choice Award||January 10, 2013||Best Action Movie||The Avengers|
|Best Actor in an Action Movie||Robert Downey Jr.|
|Best Visual Effects||The Avengers|
|Annie Award||February 2, 2013||Outstanding Achievement, Animated Effects in a Live Action Production||Jerome Platteaux, John Sigurdson, Ryan Hopkins, Raul Essig, Mark Chataway The Avengers – Industrial Light & Magic||Won|
|Outstanding Achievement, Character Animation in a Live Action Production||Jakub Pistecky, Maia Kayser, Scott Benza, Steve King, Kiran Bhat The Avengers – Industrial Light & Magic||Nominated|
|VES Awards||February 5, 2013||Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects-Driven Feature Motion Picture||The Avengers: Susan Pickett, Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams|
|Outstanding Animated Character in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture||The Hulk: Marc Chu, John Doublestein, Cyrus Jam, Jason Smith|
|Outstanding Created Environment in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture||Midtown Manhattan: Richard Bluff, Giles Hancock, David Meny, Andy Proctor||Won|
|Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture||Downtown Manhattan: Colin Benoit, Jeremy Goldman, Tory Mercer, Anthony Rispoli||Nominated|
|Outstanding Models in a Feature Motion Picture||Helicarrier: Rene Garcia, Bruce Holcomb, Polly Ing, Aaron Wilson||Won|
|Outstanding Compositing in a Feature Motion Picture||Hulk Punch: Chris Balog, Peter Demarest, Nelson Sepulveda, Alan Travis||Nominated|
|British Academy Film Awards||February 10, 2013||Best Special Visual Effects||Marvel Avengers Assemble|
|Golden Reel Awards||February 17, 2013||Best Sound Editing — Sound Effects and Foley in a Feature Film||The Avengers|
|Academy Awards||February 24, 2013||Best Visual Effects||Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams, and Dan Sudick|
|Kids' Choice Awards||March 23, 2013||Favourite Movie||The Avengers|
|Favourite Movie Actress||Scarlett Johansson|
|Favourite Male Buttkicker||Robert Downey Jr.|
|Favourite Female Buttkicker||Scarlett Johansson|
|Favourite Villain||Tom Hiddleston|
|Empire Awards||March 24, 2013||Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy||Avengers Assemble|
|Best 3D||Avengers Assemble|
|Best Director||Joss Whedon|
|Best Actor||Robert Downey Jr.|
|Best Film||Avengers Assemble|
|MTV Movie Awards||April 14, 2013||Movie of the Year||The Avengers||Won|
|Best On-Screen Duo||Robert Downey Jr. and Mark Ruffalo||Nominated|
|Best Fight||Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, and Jeremy Renner vs. Tom Hiddleston||Won|
|Best Hero||Robert Downey Jr.||Nominated|
|Best Villain||Tom Hiddleston||Won|
|Saturn Awards||June 2013||Best Science Fiction Film||The Avengers|
|Best Supporting Actor||Clark Gregg|
|Best Director||Joss Whedon|
|Best Writing||Joss Whedon||Nominated|
|Best Editing||Jeffrey Ford, Lisa Lassek|
|Best Special Effects||Janek Sirrs, Jeff White, Guy Williams, Dan Sudick||Won|
The film was released by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment on Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, DVD, and digital download on September 25, 2012, in the United States and as early as August 29, 2012, in various international markets. Producer Kevin Feige said the Blu-ray features a new Marvel One-Shot entitled Item 47 and "a number of deleted scenes and a few storylines that fell by the wayside during the editing process" including "a few more scenes with the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Maria Hill, played by Cobie Smulders" and "some slightly different versions of Maria Hill and Nick Fury's interaction with the World Security Council".
The film is also scheduled to be collected in a ten-disc box set titled Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase One – Avengers Assembled which will include all of the "Phase One" films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, in September 2012, the set's release, which was scheduled on the same day as the Blu-ray, was delayed until April 2, 2013, due to a pending lawsuit over the suitcase used to package the collection.
Some fans have criticized the U.K. DVD and Blu-ray release for omitting Joss Whedon's audio commentary, and for altering the scene involving Phil Coulson's death from the film's theatrical version. Disney's U.K. division said the "less graphic depiction of Agent Coulson's confrontation with Loki" occurred because "[e]ach country has its own compliance issues relative to depictions of violence. Unfortunately, another region's elements were inadvertently used to create the UK in-home release".
Upon its first week of release on home media in the U.S., the film topped the Nielsen VideoScan First Alert chart, which tracks overall disc sales, as well as the dedicated Blu-ray Disc sales chart with 72% of unit sales coming from Blu-ray, a record high for a new-release in which both the DVD and Blu-ray formats were released simultaneously. 23% of total Avengers sales came from the higher-priced Blu-ray 3D combo pack.
Some fans have criticized the UK DVD and Blu-ray release for omitting Joss Whedon's audio commentary, the second post-credits scene, and for altering the scene involving Phil Coulson's death from the theatrical version of the film. Disney's UK division said the "less graphic depiction of Agent Coulson's confrontation with Loki" occurred because "[e]ach country has its own compliance issues relative to depictions of violence. Unfortunately, another region's elements were inadvertently used to create the UK in-home release...."
Upon it's the first week of release on home media in the United States, The Avengers topped the Nielsen VideoScan First Alert chart, which tracks overall disc sales, as well as the dedicated Blu-ray Disc sales chart with 72% of unit sales coming from Blu-ray, a record high for a new-release in which both the DVD and Blu-ray formats were released simultaneously. 23% of total Avengers sales came from the higher priced Blu-ray 3D combo pack. In the 14 weeks since its home video release, the film has grossed $202.4 million in sales, bringing its total gross to $1,714,157,910.
- Main article: Avengers: Age of Ultron
A sequel, titled Avengers: Age of Ultron, written and directed by Whedon, was released on May 1, 2015. Robert Downey Jr., whose contract expired at the end of Iron Man 3, signed on to return as Iron Man in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Infinity War, and Endgame.
As part of the deal transferring the distribution rights of future releases of Marvel Studios films to Disney, Paramount Pictures's logo appears instead of any Disney logo. However, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures is credited at the end of the film.
Nevertheless, it is still the only "Phase one" MCU film to be owned by Disney.