As your boyfriend probably told you, "The Avengers" is hitting theaters this Friday. And you, dutiful girlfriend, are attending. But you hate action movies and you've never even read a comic book. (Of course, that's not a slight against the girls who actually do read comic books -- i.e. real fans, actual people with varied interests -- but for this, let's just go with the stock view of ladies, ladies!)
Still, there's no need to fret. Beyond the fact that Joss Whedon's action film is Awesome (note the capital A), we've created a streamlined girl's guide to ward off any confusion or mid-movie what's-going-on whisperings.
Including cocktail introductions a la "Bridget Jones's Diary" and boyfriend impressing tidbits, below is everything you need to know about "The Avengers."
The Backstory Six superheroes who cross paths and come together to rescue the human race from an extraterrestrial annihilation.
The Main Players: Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr): Quick-witted billionaire; created his superhero suit during a life-threatening kidnapping. Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans): A hunky supersolider created during WWII, he crashed into the Arctic on a mission, effectively freezing him for 70 years. The Hulk/Dr. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo): After an experiment oopsie, he was exposed to massive amounts of gamma radiation, thus creating an easily angered green monster. Thor (Chris Hemsworth): Exiled from his homeland of Asgard, the blue-eyed demi god is charged with protecting Earth from his power-hungry brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Hawkeye/Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner): "The World's Greatest Marksman." 'Nough said. Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson): Ex-Russian spy, fluent in martial arts, marksmanship and weapons knowledge. She has an affinity for tight outfits. She and Hawkeye are "friends." Loki (Tom Hiddleston): Loki is Thor's adopted brother. He felt slighted growing up and now he's out for ultimate power. (Typical.) Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson): Head of S.H.I.E.L.D. (see Terms); ring leader of the Avengers initiative. Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg): S.H.I.E.L.D. agent; Captain America fanboy
Terms: S.H.I.E.L.D.: Fictional C.I.A., which deals with superhuman dangers. (Stands for Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate.) Tesseract: All-powerful prism that contains unknown amounts of energy; acts as a space portal, which helps Loki bring an evil alien race to earth. Asgard: Thor and Loki's extraterrestrial hometown. Helicarrier: S.H.I.E.L.D.'s flying aircraft carrier, which houses our heroes. Chitauri: Creepy aliens who team up with Loki to attack earth.
Girl Crush: Still riding high on Katniss Everdeen's bow-slinging prowess? Well, odds are you'll favor ScarJo, too. (See what I did there?) Her dude-crushing moves are on full display -- there's even a sexy chair number! -- and despite her obvious appeal, here she's far more superhero than damsel in distress.
Boy Crush: These heroes are so much more than strong! They're sweet and sensitive! Dr. Banner -- when he's not "the other guy" -- is focused on helping others (awww); Captain America calls everyone ma'am; Nothing gets Thor's hammer going like his earthly crush, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman); Hawkeye only has eyes for Black Widow; Iron Man says he's a playboy, but he's totes smitten with his assistant, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow).
What NOT to say: "Do you think Scarlett Johansson is pretty?" "Oh, so it's like the 'New Years Eve' of superhero movies?" "Who could concentrate on the story with all those biceps?" "Boys are so weird."
What to say: "Thank GOD someone did the Hulk correctly." "I can't wait for 'Thor 2.'" "Joss Whedon is the man." "Yeah, you're definitely Iron Man. If he were buffer."