S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury arrives at a remote S.H.I.E.L.D. facility during an evacuation. The Tesseract, an energy source of unknown potential, has activated. It opens a portal through space and the exiled Norse god Loki steps through. Loki takes the Tesseract and also takes control of the minds of several S.H.I.E.L.D. personnel, including Dr. Erik Selvig and Agent Clint "Hawkeye" Barton, to aid him in his getaway. As S.H.I.E.L.D. personnel pull out of their base, some pursuing Loki and others merely fleeing, the ground beneath the base collapses and it's destroyed.
In response to the attack, Fury re-activates the Avengers Initiative. He pulls Agent Natasha Romanoff a.k.a. the Black Widow, out of an interrogation and sends her to India to find and recruit Dr. Bruce Banner a.k.a. the Hulk. At the same time Agent Phil Coulson approaches "Iron Man" Tony Stark and requests that he review Dr. Selvig's research. Fury himself approaches Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America, with an assignment to retrieve the Tesseract from Loki. During his exile, Loki encountered the Chitauri, an alien race seeking to conquer the galaxy. In exchange for the Tesseract, the Chitauri agree to help Loki subjugate Earth.
Suiting up, Captain America and Iron Man travel to Germany to apprehend Loki, who is recovering iridium needed to stabilize the Tesseract's power, and demanding that the civilians kneel before him. Loki quickly surrenders when the two heroes arrive, and he is escorted to a S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier, a high-tech, flying aircraft carrier. However, Thor, Loki's half-brother and the Norse God of thunder, arrives and attempts to free Loki so he can reason with him on his own, but he gets into a fight with Iron Man and Captain America. Eventually, Loki is taken to the helicarrier and placed in a glass cell designed to hold the Hulk.
The Avengers, now brought together, argue and deliberate over how to approach Loki and the revelation that S.H.I.E.L.D. plans to harness...
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