English in Blockbuster Movies: The Avengers

Welcome to the next lesson in our free English class series about English in Blockbuster Movies! We’re going to look at one of the most popular movie series in years: The Avengers!

Goals:

  • Learn how to speak about superhero movies
  • Learn new general English and movie-related vocabulary
  • Learn how to use a dependent clause to talk about the object
  • Discover interesting facts about the success of The Avengers series

Difficulty Level: Advanced

Time: Approximately 15 minutes

 

The Avengers

If you’re a fan of comic books, you’ve probably heard of The Avengers, a group of superheroes from Marvel comic books. The Avengers include some of Marvel’s most famous characters, including Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, the Incredible Hulk, and Wonder Woman. Originally created by Stan Lee in the 1960s, The Avengers have changed a lot over the years, with new characters to help battle evil as one, unstoppable force!

While The Avengers were popular as comic book heroes for decades, they reached a much larger demographic in 2012 when The Avengers movie hit theaters around the world. Though it wasn’t the first movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it helped grow the popularity of superhero movies. During its theatrical run, The Avengers movie earned over $1.5 billion worldwide, making it the third highest-grossing film at the time of its release.

Another three years passed before audiences saw more of the superhero team in Avengers: Age of Ultron. In the sequel, the team accidentally unleashes Ultron, a form of artificial intelligence that believes it must destroy humanity in order to save the planet. The Avengers work together to try to stop Ultron from succeeding. Even though it didn’t do quite as well as its predecessor, Avengers: Age of Ultron still made more than $1.4 billion at the box office

In 2018, Marvel Studios released the third installment in the series, Avengers: Infinity War. This time, the Avengers must face Thanos, a villain who plans to destroy half of all life in the universe. As one of the most successful of all The Avengers films, Infinity War earned more than $2 billion, making it the fourth highest-grossing film at the time.

Finally, Marvel released the continuation of Infinity War with Avengers: Endgame. As expected, the Avengers must either finish their fight with Thanos or allow half of all life to end in an instant. Endgame was the most profitable of the entire series, earning $2.8 billion worldwide. This made it the current highest-grossing film of all time (as of 2020). Even though fans see Endgame as a conclusion to the current Avengers storyline, many still eagerly await the next film that will bring the superheroes back together!

 

YouTube Links:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCT3A9dah1g
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yBZayWsBLA

 

Word Focus

Let’s take a closer look at some of the words in bold from the passage:

 

  • Force – (noun/verb) – A strong or powerful thing; to move with great strength.

The military force backed down when the Avengers arrived.

  • Marvel Cinematic Universe – (proper noun) – The fictional setting in which Marvel’s stories and characters exist.

There are a total of 22 films that all contribute to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

  • Theatrical run – (noun) – The period during which a movie first appears in movie theaters. 

The success of a movie is often determined during its theatrical run. 

  • Highest-grossing – (adjective) – Earning more money than any other movie.

Eventually, another film will replace Avengers: Endgame as the highest-grossing film of all time.

  • Sequel – (noun) – The second movie in a series; a continuation of an existing story.

Most successful blockbuster movies get a sequel.

  • Unleash – (verb) – To let something out; to release.

Bruce Banner unleashes his anger to become the Incredible Hulk. 

  • Artificial Intelligence – (noun) – A computer system that can perform decision-making and tasks similar to a human being.

Many of Tony Stark’s inventions rely on advanced artificial intelligence.

  • Predecessor – (noun) – Something that is replaced or followed by something else.

Timely Comics was the predecessor of Marvel Comics. 

  • Box office – (noun) – The financial success of a movie; the place at a movie theater where people can buy movie tickets.

The Avengers series has had the highest box office numbers of any superhero series.

  • Installment – (noun) – One of several parts in a series.

Avengers: Age of Ultron is the second installment in the series.

  • In an instant – (idiom) – Very quickly; immediately.

The Infinity Gauntlet would allow Thanos to destroy billions of living things in an instant.

 

Grammar Center

Take a look at the following sentence from the passage:

  • You’ve probably heard of The Avengers, a group of superheroes in the Marvel comic books.
  • The team accidentally unleashes Ultron, a form of artificial intelligence that believes it must destroy humanity in order to save the planet.
  • The Avengers must face Thanos, a villain who plans to destroy half of all life in the universe.

You might have noticed that all three sentences have a similar grammatical structure:

Independent Clause, Dependent Clause

In each sentence, the independent clause is separated from the dependent clause by a comma. More importantly, the dependent clause provides additional information about the object in the independent clause. This is a common sentence structure that is extremely useful in English writing. It helps add important information about an object that is vague or otherwise new to the reader.

Here are a few more examples:

  • Bruce Banner turns into the Incredible Hulk, a green mutant with super-human strength.
  • Thanos wants control of the Infinity Gauntlet, a group of six gems that will help him rule the universe.
  • Marvel Comics is owned by Stan Lee, the man who created all of the characters in The Avengers.

 

Quiz

Now, let’s look at a few questions to review the passage, vocabulary, and grammar:

 

1. Which of the following statements most accurately captures the central idea of the passage?

A. The Avengers series consists of four movies: The Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame.
B. Marvel has created 22 movies, 4 of which focus on the Avengers.
C. The Avengers is a highly successful series of movies based on a group of comic book superheroes. 
D. Comic book fans often argue which of the Avengers is the best.

2. As of 2020, which of the following is the highest-grossing film?

A. Avengers: Endgame
B. The Avengers
C. Avengers: Infinity War
D. Avengers: Age of Ultron

3. Which of the following terms is most closely related to a predecessor?

A. Now
B. Later
C. Before
D. After

4. Based on your understanding of the word, what is a close synonym for an instant?

A. Time
B. Moment
C. Slow
D. Speed

5. What is one common way to use the “Independent Clause, Dependent Clause” structure?

A. Introduce a new character
B. Add details about the subject
C. Add details about the object
D. Improve a story

6. Fill in the blank: “Hawkeye is one of the Avengers, __________ in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.”

A. A group of superheroes
B. The main villain
C. A superhero
D. The main character

 

Correct Answer:

  1. C
  2. A
  3. C
  4. B
  5. C
  6. A
Jake Pool

Jake Pool

After working in the restaurant industry for over a decade, Jake left to pursue his career as a writer and ESL teacher. He now creates content that informs, inspires, and educates ESL students on a wide range of topics. Jake also records audio for his articles to help students with pronunciation and comprehension.
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