Release Date: Aug. 1998
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 5%
Domestic Box Office: $23.3 Million
No, not those Avengers. Nearly 15 years before Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, The Hulk, Hawkeye, and Black Widow assembled to take the MCU to an unprecedented financial altitude, this campy, silly adaptation of a '60s British TV series of the same name left theaters quicker than you can say "Joss Whedon." Overwhelmingly panned by critics, The Avengers enlisted Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman as secret agents tasked with stopping a nefarious Sean Connery, the rouge mad scientist plotting world domination by controlling the weather.
Sounds like rubbish? Well, that’s because it is. But you can still salute a film that gleefully commits to its uncanny (read: cartoonish) visual vocabulary and energetic set pieces. Also, Ralph Fiennes bringing his A-game gravitas and cheeky Brit swagger to deliver some of the worst dialogue in recent history is worth the price of admission.
The Avengers suffered from massive rewrites thanks to poor test screenings, so Warner Bros. left it to perish in a mid-August release—right as Armageddon’s box office domination had metastasized into its terminal stage (it would go on to be the highest grossing movie of 1998). And it’s a shame, because if The Avengers had a stronger script and tighter direction it could have been called Kingsman: The Secret Service.