This post will, by necessity, contain a very big Avengers movie spoiler indeed. Please do not read on if you have not already seen the film. Of course, statistics say that you have seen the film. So read on.
Now, today's the day that Disney have released Marvel Avengers Assemble on UK DVD and Blu-ray. It's the same film as The Avengers in the US.
Or at least it was, when it played in cinemas.
But there seem to be two versions of the film now. One of them has been released on DVD and Blu-ray in the US, the other in the UK. I don't have a comprehensive list of which version has been published in which other countries, but it seems like Italy has the US version, and Germany has the same as in the UK.*
So what's the difference?
The American one, the original one, is the one with the really big blade sticking out of Coulson's chest. Thanks to Movie Censorship for the images.
I'd heard rumblings about this edit a couple of weeks back, but I've now seen the shot playing with my own two eyes and that, as they say, is believing.
There is a theory that this digital edit has been made as an act of retcon, enabling Marvel to backtrack on Coulson's death in future movies.
I'd share those suspicions, maybe, if an intact version of the film hadn't been released in the US and elsewhere around the world.
It's also worth pointing out that this change to the UK DVD and Blu-ray has not changed the certificate of the film. It's still carrying the little 12 badge.
And having looked at the BBFC's Extended Classification Information for this release, I see that they refer to the stabbing:
A slightly stronger moment occurs when a man is stabbed through the back by the chief villain's spear. The detail of the impact is not shown, only the tip of the spear protruding from the man's chest with a small amount of blood on it. The image is not dwelt upon and serves an important narrative purpose.
So have the UK been given a censored version of the film by mistake? Did our discs get mastered from a watered-down version when it was not necessary?
It's worth repeating that the US Blu-ray of The Avengers is Region Free and will therefore play on any Blu-ray player in the world. It not only contains the stabbing in full bloody, pierce-o-vision, it also comes complete with Joss Whedon's commentary track – also missing from several international releases, including the UK's. And it has more featurettes and documentary material too.
Bit of a no-brainer, really.
As far as I can see, there's only a tiny bit of wriggle room for a retcon conspiracy theory now. What if the altered version was supposed to get a total, worldwide release and the original version was the one pressed to disc by mistake? Of course, I don't believe that for a second, but that doesn't mean somebody won't.
I imported my Blu-ray of The Avengers from the US and I don't regret it for a second. How about you?
*These country names were accidentally interpolated for a while. Sorry.