By TC Phillips
Alright kids, only a few more weeks to Infinity War and we still have a bit to get through. This week, we’ll meet the mega-cast of superheroes coming together in what has been touted as the biggest single crossover event in cinematic history.
So just in case you don’t know them already, or perhaps you just need a quick refresher on
who’s who, it’s now time to meet the Avengers. Since there will be more than 20 superheroes in this one movie, we'll split this into three parts.
They are known as Earth’s mightiest heroes, but when the Mad Titan Thanos comes to town with a bad attitude, the Infinity Gauntlet, and a hankering to sow destruction across the universe, these few will need to come together like they have never before.
Time for rollcall, people!
Played by Robert Downey Jnr
Meet Tony Stark (AKA Iron Man)
The superhero that first started the MCU, unlike many of his fellow Avengers Tony is not imbued with super-soldier serum and can’t turn into a giant, green rage monster. Instead, in his own words, Tony can be described as a “genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist” whose technical wizardry helped him create the first Iron Man suit from a bunch of scraps whilst being held captive in a cave.
Since then his armour has evolved significantly, and each successive film has shown us that Tony is always looking to improve his various toys. In Infinity War we’ll see Tony’s most advanced suit to date, the Bleeding Edge armour, which is not only capable of space flight but can also form itself from nanotechnology which seemingly comes from nowhere to cover his clothes.
Fun Fact: Actor Sam Rockwell also auditioned for Iron Man, but missed out on the role to RDJ. He would return, however, as Tony Stark’s rival weapons developer Justin Hammer in Iron Man 2.
Played by Mark Ruffalo (Originally played by Edward Norton)
Meet Bruce Banner (aka The Hulk)
He’s big, he’s green and he’s angry.
And he’s not Shrek.
When mild mannered scientist Bruce Banner took to experimenting with Gamma radiation in a bid to try and recreate the original super-soldier experiments that made Captain America who he is, he accidentally turned himself into a giant, green monster with severe anger management issues.
Originally Banner found it hard to control his metamorphosis into the Hulk, yet as the years passed he seems to have a better grip on his behemoth alter-ego. In the Hulk’s most recent film outing, Thor Ragnarok, the big guy had even managed to develop a child-like level of intelligence and the ability to communicate with more than just his favourite word “SMASH!”
Fun Fact: In Avengers: Age of Ultron we saw that Tony Stark used a set of Iron Man armour designed specifically to take on the Hulk (called the Hulkbuster armour) should Banner ever lose control. This armour was deployed from a satellite codenamed Veronica. The name's a piece of typical Stark humour, a play on the character Veronica from the Archie comics, as Banner’s first girlfriend was called Betty. (Incidentally, Betty is also the daughter of General Thaddeus Ross, who would later become the US Secretary of State responsible for having the Avengers sign the Sokovia Accords which sought to place the them under government control in Captain America: Civil War.
Played by Chris Hemsworth
Meet Thor Odinson
Back when Stan Lee was writing comics in the 60s, he had a dilemma – he created the Hulk, a creature so strong that he could only really be rivalled by a God. So he created one: Thor, based on Norse mythology. In the MCU Thor is a member of a god-like, nearly immortal race known as the Asgardians. Not overly bright, Thor is big on swinging his magic hammer about (until it was destroyed by his long-lost sister Hela, the Goddess of Death), constantly falling for the schemes of
his adopted brother Loki, and providing some eye candy for the ladies in the audience.
Most recently Thor has had to deal with the loss of his girlfriend, his hammer, his father, his right eye, and his home-world (tough luck buddy), and he will most likely be the first to encounter Thanos as the post-credit scene of Thor Ragnarok showed his ship being dwarfed by the Mad Titan’s own
Fun Fact: In the comics Thor Odinson was once turned into a frog by his brother Loki, and this was mentioned in passing by Loki in the film Thor Ragnarok.
Played by Chris Evans
Meet Steve Rogers (aka Captain America)
He wasn’t always a dreamboat with super-human strength, speed, agility and otherwise rugged good looks. Once Steve Rogers was a skinny asthmatic that made Bill Gates look like Arnold Schwarzenegger, and yearned to be able to join the fight against the Nazis in World War II. Thanks to
a chance meeting with a defected German scientist with a special serum, Steve was selected to undergo an experimental super-soldier treatment assisted by none other than Howard Stark (Tony’s late father) and went on to become Captain America.
Unfortunately, in a bid to stop a Hydra (secret Nazi science division) warplane on a collision course with New York, Cap had to crash the plane somewhere in the Arctic circle where he remained frozen until he was eventually unearthed and defrosted by a secret organisation known as SHIELD, which evolved from the Strategic Scientific
Reserve which had first given him his abilities.
Most recently, Cap has gone rogue due to his misgivings about the conditions of the Sokovia Accords. Last we know he was breaking some of his fellow anti-Sokovia Accord hero buddies out of prison and he is now on the run as a wanted, international criminal.
Fun Fact: Captain America isn’t Chris Evans' first attempt at playing a Marvel superhero, having
previously played the Human Torch in 20th Century Fox’s first two Fantastic Four movies.
Played by Scarlett Johansson
Meet Natasha Romanoff (aka Black Widow)
A former Russian super-spy and assassin, Natasha Romanoff was once on the top of SHEILD’s most wanted list and SHIELD Agent Clint Barton (AKA Hawkeye) was tasked with taking her out.
Instead Clint managed to convince her to change sides, and Romanoff came to be one of SHIELD’s most active and successful agents. In Iron Man 2 we got a small taste of her abilities when she was tasked by SHIELD Director Nick Fury (played by Samuel L Jackson) to keep an eye on Tony Stark, but it wasn’t until the first Avengers film we got to truly see her kick some major ass.
Since the dissolution of SHIELD in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Natasha has taken up a key position in Avengers HQ training new members and generally making sure the boys don't do anything too stupid
Fun Fact: Ever since the first Avengers film fans have been clamouring for Black Widow to get her own solo film, and earlier this year Marvel Studios finally hired a screenwriter to get to work on exactly that. With her solo film coming out after both Infinity War and the as-yet untitled Avengers 4, it’s a pretty good bet she’ll survive to see the closing credits of both films.
(Unless her stand-alone film is a prequel, which is also likely).
Played by Don Cheadle (Originally played by Terrence Howard)
Meet Colonel James Rhodes (aka War Machine)
Colonel James Rhodes or “Rhodey” is a former jet pilot for the US Air Force, best friend and military liaison to Tony Stark when he was their primary weapons contractor. In Iron Man 2, Rhodes commandeered one of Stark’s prototype Iron Man suits and delivered it to the US Military. He would later come to pilot that suit under the codename War Machine. In Iron Man 3, he was briefly rebranded as the Iron Patriot, but as Stark correctly pointed out the name (and accompanying paint
job) was kind of crap.
In Captain America: Civil War Rhodes was accidentally taken out mid-flight by a laser blast. Rhodes’ power source was damaged and he plummeted to the ground below, damaging his spine and becoming paraplegic. Thanks to Tony Stark’s technical know-how, he’ll be back on his feet with the aid of some of Tony’s best technology.
Fun Fact: After the events of Iron Man 2 Tony Stark reclaimed the orginal War Machine armour Rhodes had stolen and stripped it of all the modifications made on behalf of the US military. Instead Stark designed his friend his own suit, and it looks like he too will be getting an upgrade in Infinity War.
Played by Sebastian Stan
Meet Sergeant James Buchanan Barnes (aka Winter Soldier)
James Barnes, or 'Bucky', was the best friend to Steve Rogers when they grew up together in Queens, New York. When Steve eventually transformed into Captain America, he rescued his friend from a Hydra prison camp during World War II and had him join his own group of elite troops dubbed the Howling Commandos.
In a raid on a Hydra train, Barnes was ambushed and plummeted (presumably) to his death. However it would turn out Barnes survived the fall, although he lost an arm in the process, and Hydra recovered his body and set about brainwashing him to become one of their top assassins. In the following decades Barnes would be cryogenically frozen, and only defrosted long enough to
take out another Hydra target before have his mind scrambled again and be thrown back into the deep freeze next to the chicken nuggets and left-over Chinese takeaway.
In the events of Captain America: Civil War we learnt that Barnes was responsible for the assassination of both of Tony Stark’s parents, a fact which would drive a final wedge between Bucky’s best friend Captain America and Tony Stark.
The last we saw of Bucky, he was recovering from being treated for his brain washing in the kingdom of Wakanda under the care of King T’Challa’s (AKA Black Panther) little sister Shuri.
Fun Fact: Sebastian Stan has been signed for a total of nine movies of which he has only appeared in three, or four if you count his cameo in the post-credit scene in Black Panther. As such it is a fairly safe bet he too will survive to see the end credits of Infinity War and may even take up the mantle of Captain America as he does in the comics.
That’s enough for today’s lesson, we’ll be back with more Avengers in lesson three.