The Avengers is an upcoming American superhero film produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures, based on the Marvel Comics superhero team of the same name. It is the sixth installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which crosses over several Marvel superhero films including Iron Man (2008), The Incredible Hulk (2008), Iron Man 2 (2010), Thor (2011) and Captain America: The First Avenger (2011). The film is written and directed by Joss Whedon and features an ensemble cast, which includes Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner and Samuel L. Jackson. In The Avengers, Nick Fury, director of the peacekeeping organization S.H.I.E.L.D., recruits Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, and Captain America to save the world from destruction.
Development of The Avengers began when Marvel Studios received a grant 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 Scarlett 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 that was originally written by Zak Penn. Production began in April 2011 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, before moving to Cleveland, Ohio and New York City. The film entered post-production at the conclusion of filming in September 2011.
Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson), director of the espionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D., arrives at a remote research facility during an evacuation. His second-in-command, Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), explains that the Tesseract, an energy source of unknown potential, has activated and opened a portal through space, from which the exiled Norse god Loki (Tom Hiddleston) steps through. Loki takes the Tesseract, and uses his abilities to control the minds of several S.H.I.E.L.D. personnel including Agent Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner), and physicist consultant Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) in order to aid in his getaway.
In response, Fury reactivates the Avengers Initiative. Agent Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) recruits Dr. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) in India, while Agent Philip Coulson (Clark Gregg), visits Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and requests he reviews Selvig’s research. Fury himself approaches Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) with an assignment to retrieve the Tesseract from Loki, who has allied with the alien race the Chitauri. In exchange for the Tesseract, they agree to help Loki subjugate Earth.
Iron Man, Captain America, and Romanoff travel to Germany to apprehend Loki, who is stealing iridium needed to stabilize the Tesseract and demanding that people there kneel before him. After a battle with the heroes, Loki surrenders and is escorted in the S.H.I.E.L.D. plane. Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Loki’s adoptive brother and the Norse god of thunder, attempts to free Loki to try to reason with him. After a confrontation with Iron Man and Captain America, Thor accompanies them to imprison Loki on S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Helicarrier, a flying aircraft carrier.
The Avengers are divided over how to deal with Loki and the revelation that S.H.I.E.L.D. plan to harness the Tesseract’s power to develop weapons. Fury admits that the events in New Mexico a year before made S.H.I.E.L.D. aware of other extraterrestrial races that may threaten Earth. Weapons developed from the the Tesseract would form a means of deterrence. As the group argues, Barton and Loki’s possessed agents attack the Helicarrier, disabling its engines. As Iron Man and Captain America attempt to restart the damaged engines, Banner transforms into the Hulk as Loki planned, despite Romanoff’s efforts to calm him, and runs amok inside the ship, soon battling Thor. During a fight with Barton, Romanoff discovers that knocking Barton unconscious breaks Loki’s mind control. Meanwhile, Loki escapes his cell, kills Coulson, and traps Thor in the cell, which Loki drops from the sky intending to kill his brother. Thor escapes milliseconds before it crashes to Earth.
Fury uses Coulson’s death to motivate the Avengers into working as a team. At Stark’s headquarters, Stark Tower, the group realizes that defeating them will not be enough for Loki; he needs to overpower them in a public way so as to validate himself as ruler of Earth. Using a Tesseract-powered device Selvig has built, Loki opens a portal to the Chitauri fleet over Manhattan, summoning an invasion. The Avengers rally in defense of New York, but quickly conclude they will be overwhelmed as wave after wave of Chitauri descend. With help from Barton, Captain America and Thor evacuate civilians, while Banner transforms into the Hulk again and goes after Loki, beating him into submission. Romanoff makes her way to Selvig’s device, where Selvig, freed of Loki’s control, reveals that Loki’s staff can be used to close the portal.
Meanwhile, Fury’s superiors attempt to end the invasion by launching a nuclear missile at Manhattan. Iron Man intercepts it and takes it through the portal toward the Chitauri fleet before running out of power and plummeting back to Earth. The Hulk catches him as he falls. Thor escorts Loki and the Tesseract to Asgard, home of the Norse gods. Fury notes that the Avengers will go their separate ways until such time as a new world-threatening menace emerges.
During a post-credits scene, the Chitauri leader tells his shadowy master that attacking Earth “would be to court death”. The master (Thanos) turns and smiles.
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