New Avengers trailer finally offers some resonance

The full and possibly final trailer for The Avengers is here and it promises a lot more than what we’ve been shown before. The effects footage now available to the editing team has helped a lot, finally giving us glimpses of what’s causing all the random explosions. But now the characterisation and emotional stakes are apparent too.

Granted, glimpses of Black Widow and Thor looking distressed doesn’t mean we’re in for an emotional tour-de-force, but some nice beats coalesce and finally give us evidence that there will be more to The Avengers than a superhero team-up and fight scenes.

I didn’t doubt this, because Joss Whedon is a character writer, and Marvel wouldn’t have hired him if they just wanted action sequences and macho posturing. Nonetheless, it’s nice to get some proof of this, with Steve Rogers feeling lost and he and Bruce Banner looking quite struck by each other (my memories of The Incredible Hulk have suddenly stirred and I realise I might know why, but don’t want to blow a surprise). Banner’s line “we’re not a team, we’re a time bomb” also corroborates why Whedon says he took the project: because the Avengers are a bunch of misfits who shouldn’t function together at all, yet somehow do. A great deal of his past work has dealt with this theme, and Marvel was smart to recognise this and hire him.

Hopefully he can pull off the aesthetic scope the movie needs though, and that Marvel hasn’t cheaped out on him. There’s concern brewing online that we keep getting shown the New York battle and the fight between Cap and Thor, and that this may be all the noteworthy spectacle there is. I agree that if this is true, an Avengers movie needs more setpieces than that and an escalation beyond them. If these are indeed alien invaders, going off-planet or at least into orbit in the third act would fit the bill perfectly.

But when it all comes together, the locations may not matter. An epic scope can be achieved on an earthbound weekly television show like Lost, for instance, so surely a big-budget film can do the same within New York. If the emotional and narrative stakes are high enough, and the characters are pushed to their limits, The Avengers may be the take-no-prisoners superhero epic we’ve been longing for.

What would confirm this is if we had some word that Marvel have been withholding a lot from the trailers so far. We’ve been told virtually nothing about Loki’s army for instance, so what if the third act has similarly been kept entirely under wraps? That would be a refreshing change given movie marketing insists on showing all the major beats before you walk into the cinema, but the ubiquity of that means I shouldn’t be so optimistic.

How wonderful though if The Avengers sucker-punched us with a truly epic story that we’d only been given a taste of. If you have enough compelling material for the marketing department in the rest of the film, why not surprise us and get word-of-mouth spreading ravenously about the surprises in store once the movie comes out? But then, that may be too obvious for a marketing team that insists on physically inaccurate photoshopped bodge-jobs like this (Captain America is five storeys tall!).

But no! I must stow my cynicism. It’s hard with blockbuster movies these days, but a movie buff with nothing to look forward to is a sad movie buff indeed.

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