Years before Avengers: Infinity War was dubbed “the most ambitious crossover event” in history, there was the film that started it all: Marvel’s The Avengers. In this article, we’re going to analyze The Avengers script by looking at quotes, plot and characters.
But before we jump in, let’s remind ourselves of the story structure and who wrote The Avengers.
The Avengers Script
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Who Wrote The Avengers Script?
Written by Joss Whedon
Joss Whedon is an American filmmaker who has left an indelible imprint on the landscape of international cinema.In the past 30+ years, Whedon has worked on television shows like Roseanne and Parenthood, created Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and written/directed/produced a myriad of other film/TV projects.
STRUCTURE OF THE AVENGERS SCREENPLAY
A mysterious presence known as “The Other” tasks Loki with securing “The Tesseract” from Earth.
Loki arrives at S.H.I.E.L.D. (world law enforcement) headquarters, which is an organization run by Nick Fury, and supervised by Clint Barton (Hawkeye). After a minor battle, Loki turns Clint against S.H.I.E.L.D., then steals and escapes with the Tesseract.
Plot Building One
Natasha Romanoff, AKA Black Widow is called into S.H.I.E.L.D. where Agent Coulson asks her to track down Bruce Banner (the Hulk,) while he says that he’ll find Tony Stark (Iron Man.)
Plot Building Two
Natasha finds Banner in India and asks him to help track down the Tesseract. Coulson crashes Stark’s dinner date and implores his help in subduing Loki. Fury meets with Steve Rogers (Captain America) and notifies him of the threat.
Steve, Natasha and Tony intercept Loki at a gala- then the Norse God of thunder Thor shows up and says that he has unfinished business with Loki. There’s a battle but eventually Loki is captured and brought back to the S.H.I.E.L.D. heli-HQ.
With Loki in captivity, Fury shifts focus to finding the Tesseract. Tony attempts to hack into the S.H.I.E.L.D. system because he doesn’t trust Fury.
Barton leads a rescue mission on the heli-HQ, in which Banner loses control and turns into the Hulk. Loki escapes after stabbing Agent Coulson. Tony learns that S.H.I.E.L.D. was using the Tesseract to make weapons of mass destruction. Natasha brings Barton out from under Loki’s spell by hitting him on the head.
Fury notifies the “heroes” that S.H.I.E.L.D. was using the Tesseract to make WoMD, but only because they had no other way of dealing with other-worldly threats. Now unified, the team of Tony, Steve, Natasha, Thor, Banner and Barton go forth to confront Loki.
Tony arrives at Stark HQ in NYC to stall Loki until Banner can get there. Loki calls upon his alien army and a massive battle ensues.
Fury notifies Tony that a nuclear missile is approaching the city. Tony intercepts the missile and redirects it to the alien portal, which stops the threat.
“The Avengers” all survive, and Fury says that they’ll be ready to defend Earth the next time an alien threat emerges to destroy Earth.
The Other speaks with the “mad Titan” Thanos on an alien world and notifies him of Loki’s failure. Meanwhile The Avengers have dinner at a destroyed Manhattan Shawarma restaurant.
The Avengers Script Takeaway #1
The Avengers Quotes
How does one create an iconic quote? Oftentimes it’s a matter of luck, but in Joss Whedon’s The Avengers, the most iconic quote is built upon the back of foreshadowing and characterization.
In this next scene, we’ll see Bruce Banner verbalize how he’s able to keep his violent alter-ego, The Hulk, dormant.
The Avengers Script • Banner’s Secret • Read Full Scene
Throughout The Avengers script, several characters ask Banner how he’s able to control himself from getting angry and turning into the Hulk. For example, Natasha asks him this when she recruits him, then Tony asks him later on in the lab.
Banner is reluctant to talk about his anger though; that is until Steve tells him “Doctor Banner, now might be a really good time for you to get angry.“ to which he responds, “That’s my secret, Cap. I’m always angry.”
The Avengers Storyline - the Hulk Arrives
Especially after seeing how Ruffalo delivers the line in the film, it’s clear that this quote was a product of conscious planning.
Here are some other iconic quotes from The Avengers screenplay:
- “Superheroes? In New York? Give me a break!”
- “An ant has no quarrel with a boot.”
- “Avoiding stress isn’t the secret.”
- “When I went under, the world was at war. I wake up- they say we won. They didn’t say what we lost.”
- “Apparently I'm volatile, self-obsessed, don't play well with others.”
- “There's only one God, ma'am. And I'm pretty sure he doesn't dress like that.”
- “You really have got a lid on it, haven't you? What's your secret? Mellow jazz? Bongo drums? Huge bag of weed?”
The Avengers Script Takeaway #2
The Avengers Plot - Exposition
Back when The Avengers came out in 2012, it wasn’t expected that audiences had seen all the Marvel movies that preceded it; at least less so than it seems now. That’s one reason why it was extremely difficult for The Avengers script to balance a character-driven plot with the need for a universally understandable story.In many ways, The Avengers script succeeded in delivering an iconic team-up story. That being said, writer Joss Whedon did break a cardinal rule of screenwriting at several points in the script; that is, the unnatural delivery of exposition.
The Avengers Plot • Loki and Thor Fight • Read Full Scene
I thought you dead.
Did you mourn?
We all did. Our father⏤
Your father. He did tell you my true parentage, did he not?
No no no, this can’t be. Why? How did this get through so many stages of rewrites? Delivering exposition, or the backstory of characters, through dialogue isn’t a bad idea, but it should never be done between the two characters that the backstory involves.
If Steve were to say, “What happened to your brother?” and Thor responded “I thought him dead,” that would be one thing. It’s still not great, but it’s more dramatic than Thor and Loki yelling exposition at each other.
The Avengers Plot - Thor and Loki Fight
This interaction appears more smooth in the film due to strong acting from Chris Hemsworth (Thor) and Tom Hiddleston (Loki) but it still should have been chopped at the cutting room floor.
The Avengers Script Takeaway #3
The Avengers Characters
One thing that The Avengers script does exceptionally well is develop unique characters. By this point in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, most of the main characters already had their own solo film. So for The Avengers, the job was more of continuing the development of characters and less of establishing them.
In the following scene, we’re going to see how Tony Stark, Steve Rogers and Bruce Banner are characterized and developed.
The Avengers Script • The Greater Good • Read Full Scene
There are two reasons why this scene works: the first is that there’s a sharp, brisk pace to the dialogue. The second is that it trusts the audience to look past the science minutia and see the true point of the scene, which is the building of character.
Let’s take a look at what each character wants at this point in the story:
Steve is an idealist. He wants order and compliance.
Banner is a tinkerer. He wants to focus on his mission of finding the Tesseract.
Tony is a perfectionist. He wants to know everything that’s going on and to be the smartest person in the room.
The Avengers Storyline - In the Lab
All of this is conveyed simply and succinctly in a five-page scene that features no action.
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