In the 2012 Avengers film, the Chitauri army arrives through the portal along with these big robot alien whale Chitauri dudes. Here's one chasing Iron Man:

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These guys basically swim through the air like... giant robot alien whales. I don't see any means of propulsion. Other, more humanoid Chitauri soldiers fly around on things that seem to be mechanical "speeders" of sorts.

What are these guys? Are they ships, creatures, or both? Is there an explanation anywhere in the Avengers universe for how they defy gravity and swim through the air?

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    Not sure but it sort of reminded me of this creature from my childhood that sort of "swam" through the air as well. Maybe they are filled with Helium? – maple_shaft May 11 '12 at 17:29
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    @maple_shaft giant alien whale zeppelins! – hairboat May 14 '12 at 14:26
  • it's an organic animal with armor, maybe their biology allows them to fly in air but they certainly aren't lighter than air. hmmm... – Huangism Jun 11 '12 at 21:09
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    @Huangism If they'd lighter than air, they'd never be able to dive deep in air. But, for certain.. they'd lighter than most solids on Earth. – Baby Yoda Jun 22 '12 at 3:59

I wasn't able to find confirmation either way, but my belief is that they fly via mechanical means. The leviathans are organic creatures in a armored harness/shell. That shell's back fins have electricity discharging between the fins. Their arm fins have armor that protects the creature's arm, which they use to hack through buildings. Both of these could contain some of the same anti-gravity technology and propulsion that the Chitauri's small flying platforms use.

I found some discussion of their design to back up what I'm suggesting. MTV interviews the Visual-effects Supervisor of the film, Jeff White, here:

These guys are actually organic beneath all of that armor. They have these worn gold plates and energy signatures that ripple down the side.

(emphasis mine) Since they don't have any weaponry besides the physical damage they inflict, what energy would be rippling? I put forth that this is anti-gravity and propulsion energies.

This next one further confirms that they're organic underneath the armor. io9 interviews Production Designer James Chinlund and Concept Artist Ryan Meinerding here:

Meanwhile, the aliens also bring with them the Leviathans — those weird, serpent-like creatures that you can glimpse trashing the city in some of the trailers. Whedon wanted "a creature that was used by the aliens as a transport but also as a fierce attacking animal," says Meinerding. The concept art team on the movie created a number of versions of these beasts — many of which were rejected for being too mechanical.

  • Awesome intel. Thanks for digging up this stuff! – hairboat Jun 25 '12 at 16:17

they are called leviathans, and their mechanical armor may have propulsion technology. I doubt the creature itself has hollow bones or levitating organs.

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    Hi James! Do you have any sources you can cite for where you got this info? I'd like to read up on the leviathans. – hairboat May 23 '12 at 13:58

Whats the big deal! They are giant snakes from Chitauri world fitted with propellers. When Hulk punches the first one, you can see the metal blades getting torn apart. The snake is inside it.
Its not a mechanical fighter, its an organic life form. It is shown without the armor or propeller in the opening scene behind "The Other", just its tail.

  • If anyone can get a screencap of the moment Reddy's talking about, that might help. – hairboat Jun 22 '12 at 13:19
  • Unfortunately its not in the trailers or featurettes. We gotta wait till the DVD comes out. – Alexander Jun 24 '12 at 22:13

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