Remembering When 'The Avengers' First Met – And How They Punched The Crap Out Of Each Other

(Welcome to Great Moments in MCU History, where we fondly recall great little bits that made us fall in love with the MCU.)

Recall – if you don't mind being bossed around a bit – that viral video of an Avengers: Endgame audience losing its mind at the sight of Captain America wilding Mjölnir for the first time. What a huge moment. Endgame wasn't so long ago that we forgot how that felt as it happened, but the existence of that video also helps make sure we never forget that elation, the straight-up childlike joy that moment produced.

Now – sorry, I am still bossing you around – imagine the first Avengers film. Compared to Endgame, the Battle of New York almost feels like a Max Fischer production (something Endgame actually gives you an opportunity to consider). Thor's hair still isn't quite the right mixture of prettyboy beauty and sweaty-warrior disgusting. Captain America's costume is a little too plastic and cheesy. No one had any idea what to do with Hawkeye yet.

Nevertheless, Marvel was creating show-stopper moments even this far back. Not in every film, but certainly in the big ones. And The Avengers was their first attempt at a really big one. It seems quaint now, but at the time, the first fight between members of Marvel's super-team was jaw-dropping.

The Scene

It's a cliche that superheroes fight when they first meet, but it's one of those good cliches that makes too much sense to ignore. These are superheroes, centers of their own stories. Each is totally used to being the smartest person in the room. The strongest person in the room. Heck, even the best-looking person in the room. Meeting someone who challenges that worldview is going to lead to a tussle.

And that's precicely what happens as Marvel's big three at the time – Thor, Iron Man and Captain America – first meet. At the time the only other Avenger we felt familiar with was Black Widow. These guys were the MCU and seeing them share the screen was a delight four years in the making. It would have been boring if they all stood in a triangle and shook hands. 

Writer/director Joss Whedon doesn't arbitrarily create the fight either. Cap and Iron Man have captured Loki and Thor feels it well within his rights to nab his brother for Asgardian justice. And of course that's not going to fly with our Earth-bound heroes, so... fight!

Why It’s So Great

This early on, I don't know if we can call the fight choreography and effects all that delightful. They aren't bad, but this is far from the most exciting Marvel fight. The woods are an interesting setting, but also a dark one that masks some of the iffy visuals. 

Instead, the greatness here comes down to Joss Whedon's writing. His interpretation of these characters helped cement how we saw them going forward, and this fight offers a whole lot of that charm and character knowledge. Thor is haughty to the point of self-parody, a point Iron Man instantly picks apart. The idea that Thor's main weapon, lightning, would help Iron Man more than hurt him is inspired. Captain America's role as the measured mediator makes him almost as lame as he is cool, which fits the character's whole Boyscout deal. 

The scene now seems somewhat underrated or forgotten. The first half of The Avengers isn't always exciting and this early bit of action gets swept aside once the film really starts rolling with its main plot (and secret main character, Mark Ruffalo's Hulk). Even when it comes to Avenger versus Avenger fighting, Thor versus the Hulk is way more satisfying in terms of action. 

Instead, this scene ends up playing as a surprise reminder upon rewatches. Truthfully, I always settle in for a quiet first half and find myself pleasantly woken up by this initial Avengers altercation. There would be more, by the way. Quicksilver and Scarlett Witch begin as enemies. Iron Man's away team fights the Guardians of the Galaxy in Infinity War. And then there's that whole Civil War thing. It might be easier to count the times they weren't fighting.

What If?

What if Thor didn't pull any punches? Here's the deal – and I don't want to anger any Iron Fans – but we see Thor take a full blast and not care, plus we see him crush Iron Man's armor with his bare hands. In other words, Iron Man cannot hurt Thor, but Thor can crush Iron Man. So what if Thor, you know, killed Iron Man before Captain America could interrupt? Because that is definitely where that fight was headed.

The answer is less fun than the question: everything goes to hell and Loki becomes King of Earth until Thanos gets all his rocks together and the blip happens without issue. Maybe – MAYBE – Captain Marvel shows up earlier as a result, but probably not and would it even matter if she did? This is why fighting with your friends is bad, gang.