The Avengers is a continuing box office smash hit. The clarity of the characters, their witty on-point interactions, and their specific personal conflicts with each other contribute just as much to the movie’s success as the smash-em-up-whiz-bang action.
The character moments were my favorite parts of the movie because, I confess, the 3-D gave me a splitting headache and the action scenes go on a tad long for my personal taste.
The movie begins with the premise that humanity will be annihilated if Loki, the bitter banished demigod, opens a hole in space to let in an invading mechanized army. Loki is adopted, hates his brother, Thor, and wants to destroy the earth Thor loves and protects.
This crisis brings together the reluctant Avengers teammates. Each portrays his or her Character Type with nearly pitch perfect attitude and dialogue.
Loki is a Power of Idealism demi-god villain: Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and these Character Types believe they are meant for some kind of heroic destiny.
He says: I am Loki, of Asgard. And I am burdened with glorious purpose.
These characters are “divas” and want to be seen as special, unique, and extraordinary– something out of reach for Loki, who is always in the shadow of his more perfect “brother” Thor. It was Thor who got all the glory and Loki is furious about that. A bit of dialogue says it all–
Tony Stark: Loki wants everyone to see what he’s doing.
Steve Rogers: Yeah, I caught his act at Stuttengard.
Tony Stark: That was a preview, this will be opening night. Loki’s a full-fledged diva, everything’s got to be about him. He wants a parade, flowers, anything that’ll bring in an audience. He needs someplace where everyone can see it’s him and he’s doing it, somewhere where his name is up in lights!
Thor is a Power of Love demigod: Thor (Chris Hemsworth) uses his strength and power to care for and protect the earth. Despite everything, he still is attached to his adoptive brother, Loki, as evidenced in the following exchange:
Bruce Banner: I don’t think we should be focusing on Loki. That guy’s brain is a bag full of cats. You can smell crazy on him.
Thor: Have a care how you speak. Loki is beyond reason, but he is of Asgard. And he is my brother.
Natasha Romanoff: He killed eighty people in two days.
Thor: He’s adopted.
Thor is the son of Gaea, the nurturing mother earth herself. In his comic book backstory Thor is a caring doctor, Donald Black, who is willing to defy the might of Asgard for the woman he loves. Power of Love characters are incredibly strong characters and are ferociously unstoppable when something they love and care for is in threatened.
Iron Man is a Power of Excitement man-made superhero in his mechanized suit: In his own words he is Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist. In addition, he’s a jokester and an agent of chaos, who loves to stir things up. He’d especially like to see the Hulk get unleashed.
He says: “Dr. Banner, your work is unparalleled. And I’m a huge fan of the way you lose control and turn into an enormous green rage monster.”
Stark speaks frequently in the movie about escape or wanting to escape. Steve Rogers, Captain America, chides him for that saying Stark doesn’t have it in him to make the “sacrifice play” that puts others first. Tony Stark’s rakish push-the-envelop devil-may-care attitude continually presses everyone’s buttons in the story, but his charm, ready wit, and natural talent as an improvisor helps save the day.
Captain American is a Power of Conscience government laboratory experiment turned superhero: Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is a super-soldier who believes in following rules, following orders, and the importance of the chain of command. He can seem a little stiff and humorless at times but he is 100% reliable, trustworthy, and always puts the good of the team first. The difference between Rogers and Stark is summed up in this exchange:
Steve Rogers: We have orders, we should follow them.
Tony Stark: Following’s not really my style.
Steve Rogers: And you’re all about style, aren’t you?
Tony Stark: Of the people in this room, which one is A – wearing a spangly outfit and B – not of much use?
Stark surprises Rogers at the climax. And Rogers learns to improvise more, following Stark’s example.
The Hulk is a Power of Will gamma ray experiment gone-wrong superhero: Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), in his Hulk state, is all angry impulse. He is primitive. He’s strong. He is a mass of instinctual drives and impulses that only finds satisfaction in “Hulk smash!” In his normal human state Banner controls his anger enough to be a protector (as a doctor in remote India) rather than a destroyer. But his raw uncontrollable instinctual side is never far away.
Steve Rogers: Doc… I think now is the perfect time for you to get angry.
Bruce Banner: That’s my secret Cap, I’m always angry.
The Black Widow is a Power of Truth super-spy: Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) doesn’t have super powers per se but she is as skilled a warrior as any of her other Avengers teammates. She lives in a spy vs. spy world that is filled with hidden dangers, secretive enemies, and concealed pitfalls. With the Black Widow– “Things are never what they seem.” “Trust no one.” “Question everything.” “Watch out for secret agendas and hidden pitfalls.” Just when an adversary thinks she is most vulnerable she is actually conducting a brilliant and treacherous interrogation.
Hawkeye is a Power of Reason ultra-expert archer: Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) is a loner and a bit alienated, the perfect combination for his backstory and continuing role as sniper. He is a cold and calculating and spends the first half of the movie under the mind control of Loki.
There isn’t time for very much character development in The Avengers, but what there is is spot on. Each hero is absolutely true to his or her Character Types in both word and deed. When every bit of dialogue and action has to count as character development, the Character Types will help you be as economical and on target as the characters here.