I watched “Seven Samurai” earlier this week and was struck by the similarities between its plot and that of “The Avengers”. A quick internet search revealed I wasn’t the only person to come to this conclusion.
While I don’t agree with the character connections made by the author of the above link, I do see a general theme in the narrative structure — a group of people (farmers/earthlings), threatened by a powerful adversary (bandits/Chitauri), seek out trained warriors (samurai/Avenger team members) to come to their defense. The hired warriors bicker at first but eventually put their differences aside in the face of their opposition. The only difference being none of the Avengers (none of the superheroes, that is) die in the process, whereas [spoiler alert] four of the seven samurai die protecting the farmers.
But should I be surprised? Most comic books are about superheroes coming to the defense of average humans, and “The Avengers” is the inevitable culmination of several comic book-based movies over the past decade, based on a line of comic books that have been in publication over the past half century. Originality wasn’t high on my list of expectations when I saw the film a few weekends ago. I was entertained, but I dunno, I kinda expected a villain that would target the superheroes directly rather than the lowly Earthlings.
But I suppose if a film is going to borrow from a previous source, it could do worse. Many fine films have borrowed the storyline of “Seven Samurai”, from the 60s western “The Magnificent Seven” to the 90s Pixar kids flick “A Bug’s Life”, as well as the third act of “Saving Private Ryan”.
This is not meant to denigrate “The Avengers”. I was highly entertained, and am definitely looking forward to the pre-‘Infinity Gauntlet’ setup of the inevitable sequel.