The Avengers, profiled
Writer: Elaine Ewe
Marvel fan or not, it is undeniable that "Marvel's The Avengers" is the film that everyone has been waiting for, come heaven or hell, to see whether it rises or flops after being teased with tidbits ever since Samuel L. Jackson made a cameo as Colonel Nick Fury in the post credits scene of 2008's "Iron Man" to tell Tony Stark of his "Avenger Initiative" (Come on, don't deny that you didn't wait till after the impossibly long credits of each film to watch all these). With a cast whose egos threaten to overwhelm onscreen, assembling to stop a villain or otherwise avenge the Earth seems like an insignificant matter. What if your favourite character fights with another of your favourite, say, Tony Stark/Iron Man and Steve Rogers/Captain America? Who is Hawkeye and was there a movie about him? So let us take a look at who these egos are, and what they were before they became the Avengers.
Chris Evans is Steve Rogers/Captain America
Let it be known that before he found his calling as Captain America in Joe Johnston's "Captain America: The First Avenger" (2011), Christopher Robert "Chris" Evans was best known as the wise-cracking superhero the Human Torch in "Fantastic Four" (2005). With a face like a teenage heartthrob, it was hard to imagine Evans playing the role of the man behind the shield, much like how Steve Rogers was perceived when he joined the army, although the critical reception that Johnston's film received managed to overturn perceptions.
In "Marvel's The Avengers", Captain America will lead the team as its captain (duh), but with almost no powers save for his durability and fighting skills, will the Captain be overshadowed by the self-proclaimed genius/philanthropist/playboy Tony Stark? More importantly, can he adapt in this strange new world when even his costume is of the old-fashioned kind?
Robert Downey Jr. is Tony Stark/Iron Man
Before "Iron Man" (2008), Downey was best known as That Man Who Takes Drugs, which is why his rise to fame as Tony Stark is ironic in itself, for Stark is also a known substance abuser: alcohol. Following the success of Jon Favreau's "Iron Man", Downey appeared in Ben Stiller's critically acclaimed "Tropic Thunder" (2008) and Guy Ritchie's "Sherlock Holmes" (2009), which mirrors Stark's journey to Iron Man in a way.
In "Marvel's The Avengers", Stark is supposedly the wise-cracker of the group, and pushes many of the group's buttons, especially Captain America, with whom he frequently clashes with, which also led to the tragic end of one of the two in the comics. It should be noted that initially, Iron Man was a vehicle for creator Stan Lee to explore Cold War themes, such as the role of American technology and business in the fight against communism.
Chris Hemsworth is Thor
It may come as a surprise that Chris Hemsworth was not in the running to play Thor; his brother, Liam, was. However, when director Kenneth Branagh re-evaluated the candidates, Chris eventually won the role as the Norse God of Thunder who was banished to Earth to learn humility. As one of the youngest members of the team, it would seem that Chris was born to play the hot-headed and impulsive Thor, considering his previous roles as equally hot-headed and impulsive people, such as George Kirk on J.J. Abrams' "Star Trek", which is also his debut film role, and Sam Phelan in the independent crime thriller "Ca$h". Before "Marvel's The Avengers", Chris worked with Whedon for the horror film, "The Cabin In The Woods", which was released in the same year.
In "Marvel's The Avengers", it remains to be seen how the Asgardian will join the team, although it is most likely that his brother Loki is the main cause. In that sense, it is also highly unlikely that Thor and Loki's battle will be resolved in this film alone, considering Loki's many attempts to kill Thor in the comics.
Mark Ruffalo is Bruce Banner/The Hulk
Easily the most controversial cast member of the ensemble, it is hard to picture Mark Ruffalo as Hulk after his many nice guys roles in films such as "Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind", "13 Going On 30", "Just Like Heaven" and "The Brothers Bloom". He first gained recognition when he starred as Laura Linney's troubled, aimless drifter brother Terry in Kenneth Lonergan's Academy Award-nominated film "You Can Count On Me" in 2000. Like Bruce Banner, Ruffalo may not look like much, but possibly, you would not like him when he is angry. After all, given that Hulk has a genius for designing the gamma bomb and ability to apply deductive reasoning and observation to figure out the events happening around him, who more better to play him than Ruffalo, who has played detective on about three occasions, once as a narcotics detective in Michael Mann's crime thriller "Collateral", once as a homicide inspector who ran lead on the investigation on the Zodiac case in David Fincher's "Zodiac" and once as a faux detective in Martin Scorcese's "Shutter Island".
In "Marvel's The Avengers", Hulk is the team's wildcard, set to use his incredible strength to help them out against Loki's army. Hulk became who is he is after being exposed to gamma rays when he tried to save a teenage boy from the blast from his bomb, which was an ironic twist of fate. Hulk's recruitment in the film may differ than that in the comics, for the Avengers only met Hulk when Loki manipulated the latter into wreaking havoc using an illusion of dynamite on train tracks.
Jeremy Renner is Clint Barton/Hawkeye
Renner is one of the few in the cast who did not make his name playing a superhero. Before appearing in a cameo role as Clint Barton or Hawkeye, which he plays in "Marvel's The Avengers", Renner mostly appeared in independent or low-profile films although it did not meant that he was any less good (he was nominated for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Lead Male for "Dahmer"), before finally gaining his breakthrough role in Kathryn Bigelow's Oscar-winning war drama, "The Hurt Locker", as Sergeant First Class William James, a daredevil who puts his teammates in danger. Renner then went on to appear in the equally acclaimed "The Town" by Ben Affleck, as Affleck's character Douglas "Doug" MacRay's best friend, James "Jem" Coughlin, who is also a member of the bank robbing team. He also starred in last year's "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" as a new member of Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt's new team with his own shady past, William Brandt.
In "Marvel's The Avengers", Hawkeye is one of the two human counterparts of the team, providing with backup when necessary as a sharpshooter. Touted as "The World's Greatest Marksman", in the comics, Hawkeye was a circus performer who witnessed Iron Man in action, and is thus inspired to become a costumed hero. He also falls in love with Black Widow without knowing her ulterior motives as a spy for the Soviet Union, and helped her to steal Stark-developed technology. Unfortunately (or fortunately), Joss Whedon's "Marvel's The Avengers" is said to have steered clear of any romantic subplots, and as you can see, Hawkeye does not have a costume.
Scarlett Johansson is Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow
As the only female member of the team, Scarlett Johansson has a lot to carry on her shoulders. It is then a relief to know that she is no wallflower, with more than her fair share of nominations and awards. Before playing the femme fatale Black Widow, Johansson played a similar role as Silken Floss, alongside her "Marvel's The Avengers" co-star Samuel L. Jackson in "The Spirit". However, in spite of her occasional duty to kick butts, Johansson is very much the girl-next-door at heart, best known for her lost girl roles in movies like Sofia Coppola's "Lost In Translation", Peter Webber's "Girl With The Pearl Earring", as well as Woody Allen's "Match Point" and "Scoop".
In "Marvel's The Avengers", Natasha Romanoff is a Soviet agent who defected to the U.S. for reasons unknown, and begins freelancing for the secret espionage group S.H.I.E.L.D. as their agent. She is the only other purely human member of the team besides Hawkeye, to whom she owes her life to. Nothing much is known about her even in the comics, save that her parents were killed in a fire when she was a child, leaving her to be raised by the U.S.S.R.'s "Black Widow Ops" program.
Samuel L. Jackson is Nick Fury
At this point of time, there is hardly anyone who does not know Samuel L. Jackson or cower in fear of him. With roles like Jules Winnfield in Quentin Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction", Ordell Robbie in "Jackie Brown", Mace Windu in George Lucas' "Star Wars prequels and Neville Flynn in "Snakes On A Plane", Jackson's Nick Fury is very much a man not to be crossed, especially when he is also the man who managed to bring together a team of superheroes. Before making his cameo appearance in Favreau's "Iron Man", Jackson was last seen in the science-fiction thriller "Jumper", as the man who hunts and kills the Jumpers. It is hard to believe that he was mentored by the mild-mannered Morgan Freeman, a.k.a. God.
In "Marvel's The Avengers", Nick Fury is the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. who was tasked with forming a team to battle posthuman threats. After he recruits Captain America, the leader duty is shared out. Nick Fury mostly appears in the Ultimate Marvel comics series, and is also a Super Soldier like the Captain as a result of being injected with the serum, although his abilities are of a lower level.
Cinema Online, 25 April 2012