I’ve got one word for the makers of the new Avengers trailer: Transformers.
With the release of the first full trailer for Disney and Marvel’s all-star 2012 superhero tentpole, fans finally get a real look at the four main heroes together — The Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America and Thor — with some semblance of the film’s narrative on display. Loki’s back, so are Nick Fury and Black Widow, Hawkeye’s now on the scene, and everyone’s looking like they want to do some righteous ass-kicking. Cars explode, voiceovers portend, Tony Stark cracks jokes.
Awesome. Or it would be if we hadn’t seen all of this before and expected every single thing that we saw in the trailer. And this gets at the crux of the Avengers problem: Given the scope and impact of the individual films, how does this one deliver something bigger, better, newer?
Admittedly, for a film of this scale, this “trailer” is really just an extended teaser. We’re not meant to see everything yet. The movie doesn’t come out for another seven months or so, and the studio and filmmakers need to save some build for the meantime. Still, take a look back at the first real Transformers: Dark of the Moon trailer. That involved characters we had seen before — robot and human — but managed to convey epic drama and conflict as we got hints of Chicago being completely destroyed as well as great emotional moments (note Bumblebee — a robot(!!) — in despair).
Not only does the Avengers trailer do none of this, but it recycles a villain from Thor. Writer-director Joss Whedon better have bigger, badder forces behind Loki to ramp up the darkness quotient or nobody’s going to care. Even the Joker, one of the best-depicted comic book villains of all time in The Dark Knight, would seem less terrifying if he was brought back for another go-round. And this gets to the scale problem, too. We really only see one street of cars wrecked by Loki. Seriously? Didn’t we see that done in Independence Day fifteen years ago? We really need the Avengers for this? Audiences are going to need a much bigger threat to humanity to get invested in this showdown.
And that includes the showdowns between the heroes, as well. Thus far all we get is two lame jokes from Stark, including a backhanded compliment to Bruce Banner that essentially calls attention to the ridiculousness of these superheroes in the first place. That’s a dangerous game to play with fans, who want these guys/archetypes taken seriously. And at this point, Banner/The Hulk is a much more interesting character than Stark. Iron Man’s the only one we’ve seen more than once so far, and that second outing left a lot of fans wanting, not to mention tired of the shtick.
This trailer basically does the job of getting fans excited. But that is going to wear off very quickly, and we have a long way to go until Go Time, let alone until any future sequels or further Avenger team-ups. Marvel, Disney and Whedon absolutely must have some bigger, better spectacle ahead, and be willing to show it. That wow-factor bar is set very high — and set partially by Iron Man itself. Without the courage to put something big on the line — in the trailer and in the movie — this franchise darling will have fans seeking vengeance.