The AVENGERS: A super review

The Avengers

The Black Widow

Captain America

The Hulk

Robert Downey jr as Tony Stark

The Avengers: (4 stars out of 5)

An extended review of the Avengers film.

If there was ever an ultimate dream movie for comic book fans, this is it! The Avengers is possibly the best comic book adaptation ever made, and may become the gold standard for all future super-hero films. It may not be a perfect movie but it delivers everything you could want from a comic book adaptation or an action film. On that level, this is the ideal genre movie. The Avengers is fantastic fun and a great summer blockbuster.

This film is a unique moment in Hollywood history, because it’s the first time anyone has ever combined four separate franchises into one epic movie. Mostly a sequel to Thor and Captain America: the First Avenger, both of which came out in 2011, this film not only features the eponymous heroes of those two films, it also gathers the valiant protagonists from a pair of 2008 films, Iron Man and the Incredible Hulk, as well as two other costumed adventurers. This all-star team of comic book heroes has been highly anticipated since it was first teased in the closing moments of the Incredible Hulk. The results don’t disappoint. It helps for the viewer to have seen the earlier films, particularly Thor and Captain America, but even if you haven’t, the plot isn’t that hard to follow.

The guiding hand behind this massive two-and-a-half-hour film is director/co-writer Joss Whedon, the mastermind behind TV’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Firefly. He’s the perfect choice for this movie. Fans of Whedon know that his specialty is combining lively action with witty dialogue, character-driven drama and campy humor. Also, he is excellent at handling large casts of eclectic characters and bouncing their varying personalities off each other. That’s exactly what he does in this film and it makes for some wonderful character interactions and laugh-out-loud moments of humor.

The story begins where the after-credits scene of Thor left off. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), head of the top secret Para-military and espionage organization SHIELD, finds out there is a problem with the powerful cube/tessaract which was such a big plot-point in Captain America and is now in SHIELD’s possession. Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard)—last seen in Thor—is now examining the cube, which seems to be responding to unseen orders. Those orders are coming from evil Loki (Excellently played by Tom Hiddleston), the Norse God of Mischief. Last seen getting sucked into a black hole in Thor, Loki is back, freed by an unseen power (more on that later) and looking to use the eldritch powers of the cube to rule the world. Taking hypnotic control of Selvig and the SHIELD archer/assassin Clint Barton, code-named ‘Hawkeye’ (Jeremy Renner), Loki and his slaves escape with the cube to fulfill Loki’s master plan.

It’s time to call in a team of specialists to deal with the major menace, so Nick Fury begins recruiting super-heroes as part of his Avengers Initiative. We meet sexy spy and former Soviet hit-woman Natasha Romanoff AKA ‘the Black Widow’ (Played by gorgeous Scarlet Johansson), last seen in Iron man 2.; The Patriotic super-soldier with a red/white/blue shield Steve Rogers AKA “Captain America” (Chris Evans) who was awoken after 70 years in suspended animation, as seen in the film Captain America; and narcissistic genius/millionaire Tony Stark, AKA “Iron Man”, (Robert Downy Jr.) who has an endless supply of those cool armor battle suits. Fury also needs the help of brilliant Doctor Bruce Banner AKA “the Incredible Hulk” (Marvelously portrayed by Mark Ruffalo) since Banner is the world’s foremost gamma radiation specialist and knows how to track the ambient energy of the cube. The fact that he can transform into “a giant green rage monster” is a bonus.

The assembled heroes find out that someone else is after Loki, too. Loki’s noble brother Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has returned from the realm of Asgard (where we left him at the end of the film Thor) and is determined to bring his mischievous sibling back home to face justice for his crimes in a previous film. (In one of his funniest moments, Thor responds to reports of Loki’s criminal actions by saying “He’s adopted”.) His unexpected appearance leads to the first of several slug-fests between the heroes, as Thor gets into a brawl with Iron man. (The members of ‘the Avengers’ spend almost as much time fighting each other as they do the bad guys.) Cooler heads prevail and Thor joins the team, just in time to help SHIELD and the other heroes battle Loki’s alien allies, who have been sent by their mysterious master to help Loki conquer the Earth.

The film is broken into three clear sections. The first hour sets up the plot and introduces our large cast, which is a rather laborious effort with so many characters to round up. The second hour, after the Avengers get together in SHIELD's flying war ship, is by far the best part of the film. This segment of the movie allows Whedon to do what he does best—he just allows the eccentricities and diverse personalities of the characters to clash, with amusing and sometimes hilarious results. There are also some excellent moments where the imprisoned Loki plays Hannibal Lechter-like mind-games with the good guys. (The scene where he tries to psych-out the Black Widow is a highlight.) When Banner finally ‘rages-out’, we are treated to a Hulk vs. Thor punch-up, that will surely delight comic book lovers. The final half-hour of the movie is an extended, non-stop action sequence, where the Avengers fight off the attacking aliens. This segment of the film doesn’t stop for a breath, as our heroes battle endless hoards of ugly invaders, with Manhattan again suffering the consequences. Poor Manhattan Island hasn’t been treated this badly since Cloverfield stomped across it. (Whedon does one excellent panning sequence that takes in all the characters fighting across a wide area. It’s a great shot.)

Robert Downey gets most of the best lines, as the snarky Tony Stark; Chris Evans shows strong presence as Captain America, who steps into the leadership role of the team; Scarlet Johansson gives her best performance in quite a while as the wily Black Widow. She is well-used in this film, and she looks great in her skin-tight outfit; Chris Hemsworth gets the least to do as Thor (Which is strange considering his brother is the main villain); Jeremy Renner spends too much of the film as Loki’s pawn to really establish the character of Hawkeye but toward the end, he gets some fun moments; Tom Hiddleston once again makes for a worthy and interesting bad guy as Loki; Samuel Jackson is full of intensity as he spouts dire warnings about the end-of-the-world. Best of all is Ruffalo, who gives the best interpretation yet of Bruce Banner (Sorry Bill Bixby, Eric Bana and Ed Norton). His version of the character is soft-spoken and rather zen on the surface, but inside, he is terrified of the uncontrollable power he possesses. Clark Gregg returns as SHIELD agent Phil Coulson and Gwyneth Paltrow is back in a small role as Iron Man’s girlfriend Pepper Pots, (both of whom were seen in the Iron Man films). Paul Bettany reprises the voice of the computer JARVIS.

All the characters get their moments to shine, some more than others, but the real scene-stealer here is the Hulk. The green-skinned ‘rage monster’ is portrayed through motion capture by Ruffalo, who gives the Hulk a more menacing edge than we’ve seen before. When the Hulk leaps into action, he hogs the spotlight, blowing everyone else off the screen. (His confrontation with Loki at the end delighted the audience.) If seeing Ruffalo/Hulk doesn’t convince Marvel and Disney to make a sequel to The Incredible Hulk, nothing will!

There are a few flaws here. The early chase scene is not very well done; Hemsworth’s Thor is poorly used; and (without giving too much away) the defeat of the aliens is disappointing. The plot is a bit thin and some of Fury’s speeches are clichéd and redundant. And if the SHIELD flying carrier had cloaked itself (we see it become invisible earlier), why was it visible when it was attacked? All in all, though, these are fairly minor quibbles and the good far outweighs the bad. The Avengers is pure popcorn fun and this is a terrific action flick. You’ll be hard pressed to find a better comic book movie than this.

Recommended

SPOILER:

I mentioned above that there was some mysterious mastermind helping Loki out. Stick around during the closing credits, for a brief scene, and you’ll see the face of a popular comic book villain, which sets the stage for the next Avengers film.

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Comments 18 comments

Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

Steve, a great review which has certainly whet my appetite for seeing this movie. I am not much of a 'super-heroes' fan but I think my husband might like this one so I will probably get to see it, one way or another. We have just recently watched Thor and Captain America and we have the DVD of The Hulk and Iron Man so at least I will already have familiarity with some of the main characters.

Voted up and shared, etc,etc


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

I have mixed feelings about super heroes, maybe because I was past the cmic book age when a lot of them became popular. I thought the Wonder Woman series was well done. I enjoyed the TV Batman when it was originally on, but not the movies. I also like the TV Superman of Clark and lois I think it was called.However, your review intrigues me so I may take a look at this film.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England

Hi Rob, good review we seem to be in agreement on this movie. It looks like The Avengers will have a record opening weekend in the US. I wonder how The Dark Knight Rises will compare?

I was hoping for a cameo from Patrick Macnee but alas no. ;)


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 4 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY Author

Hi Jools; I think your husband will enjoy this if he likes this genre of film. If you're not a super hero fan, I don't know how much this will appeal to you. If you liked 'Thor' and 'Captain America', you should enjoy this. It's an exciting action film with lots of humor.

Thanks for stopping by. Always good to hear from you,

Rob


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 4 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY Author

Hi Dahoglund; I enjoyed the old 'Batman' and 'Superman' TV series. The 'Hulk' TV series was nothing like this film Hulk but I enjoyed it as a kid. It was more for a twist on 'the Fugitive' than anything else.

Thanks for reading and commenting,

Rob


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 4 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY Author

Hi Steve; The Avengers had a massive opening weekend, the second best ever. The Batman film has a hard challenge in front of it now. I'll be curious to see how it, and the upcoming Superman film will do.

Thanks for stopping by,

Rob


Crazzykylex profile image

Crazzykylex 4 years ago from Incredible India!

Strange that unlike the comic book version, the movie comprises only a few superheroes and that even without WOLVERINE?!


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 4 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY Author

Joss Whedon is sticking closer to the original Avengers origins, which was long before Wolverine was ever created. Also, the movie rights to Wolverine and the X-Men are owned by Sony, while the movie rights to the characters in the Avengers are owned by Disney.


CarltheCritic1291 profile image

CarltheCritic1291 4 years ago

Great review as always Rob, keep up the great work. Voted Up and Everything Else :)


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 4 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY Author

Hi Carl; Good to hear from you. Glad you liked the review.

Thanks for stopping by,

Rob


Jobs Etc 4 years ago

Interesting review of the movie. I went to go see it May 7th, I was not disappointed.


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 4 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY Author

Hello Jobs,

thanks for reading and commenting,

Rob


Lady_E profile image

Lady_E 4 years ago from London, UK

Brilliant review. I look forward to watching it.

Thanks


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 4 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY Author

Thanks Lady E; I hope you enjoy it. It's a fun film.

Rob


Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 4 years ago from Virginia

Another good movie review, Rob. I actually have seen this one at the theater....lol. I agree with you about many points....Thor seemed a very secondary character particulary with his brother being the villian....while Ruffalo and Hiddleston stole the movie in my opinion.....I actually would like to see Ruffalo get his own Hulk movie....added bonus he is from around this area...at least many moons ago....voted up and interesting.


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 4 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY Author

Hi Bruce; Good to hear from you. I really enjoyed this movie. it lived up to the hype. As comic book adaptations go, this one was first rate. A fun day at the movies.

If Ruffalo's scene-stealing role as the Hulk doesn't motivate them to give the Hulk his own film, I can't imagine what will.

Thanks for stopping by, Always a pleasure,

Rob


Nat Amaral profile image

Nat Amaral 3 years ago from BC Canada

A well done hub. You had gone into great detail about the characters and your descriptions about the movie, which had turned out to be a great one. A great read. Natalie


Robwrite profile image

Robwrite 3 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY Author

Hi Natalie; It was a great comic book adaptation and a fun time at the movies.

Thanks for reading;

Rob

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