Another morsel of filmed content has slipped from whatever porous security Marvel Studios has set up around the imminent release of its Avengers Blu-ray, and this one is the most jarring to date. It’s an alternate opening sequence that focuses heavily on Colbie Smulders’ Maria Hill character, Nick Fury’s reckless determination to build a team of superheroes and the apparently catastrophic effect The Avengers have had on people living in the wake of their huge battles. In short: It’s not a cinematic ray of sunshine.
More crucially though, it has the potential to massively change The Avengers. You recall the opening sequence released to theaters, right? The one that introduces Nick Fury, Maria Hill, Hawkeye and Loki, then sets up the entire conflict for the film by introducing audiences to the “Tesseract?” That was a quality intro as not only did it cover a ton of expositional ground in a relatively short amount of time, it also prepared audiences for all the awesome spectacle contained in the rest of the film by doling it out in small portions at the outset. Plus, unlike this potential opening, it doesn’t explicitly paint the Avengers Initiative as a dangerous, irresponsible effort before viewers (especially those new to these characters) might form their own opinions on the team.
This opening, by contrast, sets up an entirely different sort of superhero film. It’s not quite as dark as, say, Christopher Nolan’s Batman films, but with this scene as an introductory beat, the rest of The Avengers could have looked quite different. The spoilers about to follow should be expected, but what if Hawkeye had remained a villain for the entirety of the film? What if all the destruction we see during this intro clip was caused by The Hulk? What if The Avengers spent the whole movie attempting to battle the raging green monster, and are thus painted as villains for causing all the chaos and strife this opening alludes to? Yes, any and all of these scenarios is a vast departure from the film we saw in theaters, but it could work.
Comic book fans will recall that Hawkeye spent quite a bit of time as a bad guy before switching teams and joining The Avengers. Likewise, that “Hulk goes on a rampage and it negatively reflects on the rest of his superteammates” has been done so often that it’s effectively the go-to storyline for the character in Avengers comics. While we’re fully willing to paint this alternate opening as “dark,” we have to admit we’re a bit intrigued by what The Avengers might have become had it begun with this scene.
Then again, we’re big fans of the levity and borderline-slapstick comedy that Joss Whedon infused into The Avengers. Even in its darkest moments the film always finds a way to counterbalance the gloom with triumphant moments of heroism. Remember Agent Coulson’s death? It wasn’t just a gimmick to add emotional resonance to the actions of The Avengers, it was also a fitting, heroic way for the character to go out while serving in the line of duty. That sort of thing meshes far better with the hopeful ideals of the supergroup than wanton violence and weepy moments of melodrama ever could.