Each and every time I watch this film, I find something new to love about it. Quite genuinely The Avengers is just cinema perfection, and I know a lot of that can be attributed to the genius of Joss Whedon.
There is literally nothing about this film that I dislike. Bearing in mind that I’m quite honest in my intense dislike of Tony Stark when he is in a movie of his own, for me to admit that I don’t even dislike Iron Man in this film, is a massive achievement on Whedon’s part. In no small part he managed to achieve that because in this film Iron Man is made to be a team player; the team appreciates his genius enough to stroke his ego but is more than willing to confront him about it and knock him down a level.
As a writer, I always appreciate a film when it has a great script. Now the majority of the time I get a kick from a good script by watching very high quality television productions like Sherlock, or from watching the sorts of films that get nominated for Awards like Silver Linings Playbook. What makes them great for me is that the script is the most fundamentally important aspect of the film making, usually because the film makers can’t rely on an epic battle scene and a load of cool special effects to cover up the cracks.
Avengers Assemble though had a blockbuster budget, and they gave it to a writer to use.
Joss Whedon started his career writing; directing came when he made Serenity. His experience and genius comes from years of making long running television shows where you have to create well rounded characters that you can develop for years: TV shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel (not to mention cult classics like Firefly). He specialises in making great characters and writing a great story for them.
For Avengers he was given a set of already established characters to work with, and what he did with them was amazing. Every line of dialogue in the entire film has meaning and drives the story forward. The interactions between all of the characters build tension between them all beautifully; he was given a group of characters who normally work alone, brought them all together on a flying air craft carrier and he made them a team. And he did that, by using the villain to make them a team.
Neither Whedon nor even Director Fury could be credited with making the Avengers; Loki made the Avengers.
Loki in this film is even better than he was in Thor, and one of the reasons why he works so well is because at no point is it clearly explained why he comes to earth; the plot points aren’t tied up with a pretty little pink bow at the end to explain to the audience what just happened. The audience has been left to speculate for themselves, which is exactly what I’m about to do.
There are many reasons explained in the film about what Loki is doing; the main theory that the Avengers have is that he was sent to Earth by Thanos to retrieve the Tesseract, and in exchange he gets an army to use to take over the planet. Easy enough to understand, but for me that just doesn’t feel right.
I watched the film again recently with the specific aim of dissecting Loki’s motives. I noticed a theme in the dialogue that I’ve never seen dissected as a theory before. That Loki wants a war; a glorious battle. In the opening scene of the film Director Fury questions Loki’s desire to bring peace to Earth – to paraphrase ‘You say peace, but I get the feeling you really mean the other thing.’ During the Battle of New York when Loki is fighting Thor, he is talking about the war and the glorious battle. It was then it clicked; why would Loki settle for earth when he believes himself to be the rightful King of Asgard? It is a massive step down.
Loki doesn’t want to rule Earth, he just wants to cause chaos and have a war. That is his entire motivation for the film. He might look conflicted when Thor tells him it’s not too late to stop the fighting but in truth it is what he wanted. The sticky part of my theory is why he wanted it? Loki in the first Thor film uses intelligence and secretive plots to pull on all the strings. He doesn’t use open warfare and while he might have his ‘diva-like’ moments, his plan in the film isn’t actually in character.
It does however make perfect sense when we pull back and look at the wider Marvel Universe, in particular the other puppets that Thanos uses to try and destroy those that might stand in his way; Ronan in Guardians of the Galaxy is a diva who wants to ‘purify’ the galaxy and Ultron who develops a diva like personality by learning from Tony Stark, in the second Avengers film wants to destroy the Earth, which when he fails prompts Thanos to finally to take action himself, but all that happens after Loki fails in Avenger’s Assemble.
It is only makes sense in retrospect that Loki wanted a war when he normally works deviously because Thanos makes him do it. There are internet theories that Loki has been tortured prior to arriving on Earth and he certainly doesn’t look right at the beginning of the film. Loki wants to be the King of Asgard, but he’s stuck being Thanos’ puppet, which judging on how annoyed he looks when he’s communicating with them from Earth, you could say he’s not all that happy about it. And it’s because he’s not all that happy about it that I think he got his own back by forcing S.H.I.E.L.D.’s hand.
Loki has been to Earth before, at least in the form of an illusion, back when Thor had got himself banished there. He would have seen first hand how S.H.I.E.L.D. operates as an intelligence agency, not as an army. He admits to Tony Stark that it was the plan to annoy the Avengers; while Tony doesn’t think it was a great plan, it was Loki’s plan.
If he’s a puppet who is slowly cutting off his strings without letting Thanos know he is, then it was a perfect plan. He told Thanos that Earth is weak and easily taken, and then when he arrives and takes over Hawkeye and learns about the Avengers, he then proceeds to act with the full intention of annoying them as much as possible, so that they turn up to fight in the Battle of New York.
If his intention was to only get the army to him and go on take the earth, then S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers would never have got the chance to see him coming. He would have sent someone else to be the distraction to get the eyeball; he wouldn’t never have got himself caught and taken to the carrier; he would never of given them hints of what power source he was planning on using to open the portal; and most importantly Agent Coulson would never of died which pushed the Avengers to fight him. He would have done what Loki does best and operated in the shadows until he was ready to strike.
This is why Avenger’s Assemble is such a great film, because for a Hollywood blockbuster and a superhero movie where you expect epic battles and special effects, you don’t get the sort of script you would expect, with simple plot points that get all tied up with a bow at the end. The plot is messy and confusing, with brilliant dialogue and character interaction. You also get a villain where you’re not quite sure what he’s actually doing.
He’s acting out of character and he’s admits that his plan was to annoy the people able to fight him to the point where they actually work together and fight him. Loki created the Avengers and because he did in the end the Avenger’s won the day, and Thanos’ army lost. I don’t think Loki lost though; he might end up in chains at the end, and he lost the battle, but he’s was talking about a war, the war that Thanos is manipulating from afar.
In the end he got to go back to Asgard, which is where he actually wants to rule, safe in the knowledge that as far as Thanos was concerned he did try his best to win the battle and give him the Tesseract. He was just outmatched on the day. Loki didn’t lose; he got himself away from his puppeteer.
I think I could sum all of that up in a simple sentence; Joss Whedon is a genius.