The Avengers as an Archetypal Superhero Film All media that lives within a specific genre of film can be classified as such by the similar elements that compose each work. Some say this makes Hollywood clich?©d and typical, but a formulaic approach can be conducive to developing a movie that will interest a larger demographic. The “superhero film” is a category of video that utilizes this course of action. More specifically, Marvel’s movies (which are all based on comics) have had much success with this technique, their greatest ccomplishment being The Avengers.

Just start with a predetermined set of narrative, character, and cinematic elements. Then, throw in humanity and some of your own details: You now have a superhero movie. The plot of The Avengers is exciting and fresh, yet it still includes the assets that make it an archetypal superhero film. Origin stories are essential to this kind of movie, but the audience is expected to know about the central characters’ origins by this installment of the series. So while The Avengers does not go into explicit detail bout origins, there are moments in the film where they hint at each heroes past.

Another narrative facet necessary for a movie of this type is a conflict with the archenemy. In the film, Thor’s arch nemesis Loki visits Earth in an attempt to destroy the planet. Loki brings with him an army of extraterrestrials called the Chitauri, causing chaos in Manhattan by the end of the film. Even after the credits, the audience learns of a bigger conflict when they get to see who was truly in control of the army: a powerful being called Thanos. Up to the last moment, conflict is foreshadowed and restored. Another important factor of the writing is of course, the heroes themselves.

There are three central qualities that comprise a superhero, the most obvious being their superhuman abilities. Thor is from another planet, has an ancient mystical hammer, and is essentially a god. Iron Man boasts extraordinary intelligence and a high-tech battle suit. Black Widow and Hawkeye are master assassins that work for a top-secret organization called the Strategic Homeland Intervention and Enforcement Logistics Division. Captain America is a product of a S. H. I. E. L. D. experiment and is a master tactician with superhuman strength.

Finally, the Hulk was another scientific project that resulted in an angry brute with extreme capabilities of strength and power. Also essential to the character of a superhero is their secret identity. While Iron Man’s identity is no secret and Thor is not from Earth, the other Avengers keep their identities concealed fairly well. Captain America is Steve Rogers, Hawkeye is Clint Barton, Black Widow is Natasha Romanov, and the Hulk is Bruce Banner. Each of hese characters fght for a reason, and this motivation is almost as pivotal a trait as their powers.

You could define a superhero as “a man or woman with powers that are either massive extensions of human strengths and capabilities, or fundamentally different in kind, which she or he uses to fght for truth, Justice and the protection of cause the heroes to lose some hope, but their motivation to protect the innocent keeps them together. The driving force behind a hero is imperative to their character and the plot. Speaking from a film/video perspective, cinematic elements of the story give dditional proof that The Avengers is a typical superhero movie.

The use of special effects brings the comics to life, making the suspension of disbelief easier to achieve. Effects are used to make the action-fueled fght scenes more convincing. The mise- en-sc?©ne also helps to achieve a believable setting within the universe of the characters. Costumery akin to the designs in the comics add to this effect. In regards to sound, no superhero movie soundtrack is complete without the main theme (in this case, The Avengers theme). This piece of music is played multiple times hroughout the duration of the film to establish a motif.

The final quality of superhero movies that set them apart from the broad genre of action films is the inclusion of humanity. Humanity is a vital element to include in these types of films, mainly because it is the sole factor that allows the audience to sympathize and connect with the characters on a personal level. It could be argued that “if one out of every five superhero movies succeeds, then it is for one reason only: They let the light in; they reveal simple threads of self-awareness in the midst f the storm of hyperbole” (Chiarella 30).

There are multiple instances in The Avengers where the humanity of the characters is divulged, most notably so occurring at the end of the film. It’s known that Iron Man is the most egotistical Avenger. However, in the end, he is the one to make the sacrifice for the greater good of mankind. His humanity is shown through his decision to put his own life on the line. In addition, when his body comes plummeting back down towards Earth, the teammate to catch Iron Man’s immobile form is the least human of them all: The Hulk.

Even the characters that are least likely to be found relatable become figures one could connect to through their humanity. Based on comic books written throughout the ages, superhero movies are a sub genre of action films that bring those familiar characters to life. They establish a universe of beings attributed with qualities inherently associated with superheroes. A story is told with elements that are known to belong to the comic hero narrative. The director includes cinematic clues such as a theme song to let the viewer know hey are watching a superhero film.

Finally, the writers weave in a little humanity to ensure that their characters will be easy to relate to. When these elements come together as they do in The Avengers, the formula for a superhero movie has been successfully emulated. Kaveney, Roz. Superheroes! : Capes and Crusaders in Comics and Films. London, GBR: 1. 8. -rauns, 2008. http://site. ebrary. com/lib/uarts/Doc? id=10289955&ppg=14 Copyright 2008. 1. 8. Tauris. All rights reserved. CHIARELLA, TOM. “The superhero. ” Esquire 158. 1 (2012): 30-32. EBSCOhost. web. 1 Dec. 2013.


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