NICK FURY: How the heroes are introduced in Avengers Assemble – 1

One useful exercise when examing moving image in a Media course is to investigate how characters are introduced through FILM LANGUAGE.

By looking at the SHOT TYPE, CAMERA ANGLE, COMPOSITION and USE OF COLOUR – indeed the whole MISE EN SCENE, you can “decode” the messages that the filmmakers are trying to present to the audience.

You may find it useful to refer to my earlier post LET HITCHCOCK TEACH YOU SHOT, COMPOSITION AND RULES. A printable worksheet version is at the bottom of this article.

In this example we will look at the introduction of a few of the heroes in The Avengers (Avengers Assemble in the UK).

The words are mine, but the images are screengrabs from the film to help students to understand the educational media concepts here.


The mise en scene for this scene: the shots reveal that it is night time (dark = mysterious/scary?) and we are at a SHIELD/NASA facility, which is having an emergency evacuation: people are running around, packing cars, being evacuated. There are many flashing warning lights, armoured trucks arrive.  Many black cars.   This creates a narrative enigma at the start as the reason for the evacuation is not clear yet.

A man in a black suit waits at the helipad.  The concept of the mysterious government official or “man in black” is something many people would recognise, either from existing media (comic books, films “Men in Black” or from many films where security officials, often mysterious officials, wear black. This links to both cultural codes and society.

This mysterious “man in black” concept is is further evidenced when we see the man waiting (Agent Coulson) wears black sunglasses.    At night time.

It is night time. The facility is lit with spotlights.  A helicopter arrives and settles just outside the building.

A man exits the helicopter.  The camera angle is a very low angle shot, making him appear huge and dominant, suggesting his rank, power, status.  He is the main focus of the shot, positioned front and centre.

He wears a black outfit – black leather overcoat and fleece, black gloves.  Black can have connotations of seriousness, of evil.  Black outfits could be worn by villains.  We sometimes also view a black outfit as “cool”.

Fury wears an eye patch over his left eye.  This, alongside the scars on his face suggests an injury, possibly in the line of duty. 

His opening dialogue is delivered powerfully.  Everyone reports to him.  He is the boss.

The shot is a continuous shot which follows the characters we will later learn to be Agent Maria Hill and Director Nick Fury as they exit the helicopter, then settles on this composition:

In this shot Coulson has his back to the camera, and Maria Hill is in the background. The “blocking” or staging of this shot ensures that Fury is dominant.

Any other ideas?

Let Hitchcock teach you shot composition and rules

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