Review: The Avengers
MILD SPOILERS BELOW
First off, thank you Marvel and thank you Joss Whedon. This is a tremendous accomplishment for all of you bringing all of these larger than life characters together for a terrific two and half hour long movie. Joss Whedon is more widely known for his success in television with shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly and Dollhouse and with his fantastic job behind the scenes and with the script. While it has the best action out of any comic book film (YES, it is) it also is a success due to the humor that Whedon infuses into it. I could watch the movie once again solely for the interactions between characters, and they all had their shining moments. I don't say this often with any movie either but it hit that rare chord in me where it was so amazing that my inner child came out and I couldn't stop giggling at certain points. If you are a fan of comic books at all, or watched the Marvel cartoons when you were a child like me, then this film will be a gold mine for you. As a fan of all things Marvel, writing this review presents itself with plenty of issues for me as I would love to delve further into detail on certain aspects of the movie. Speaking of which, I probably will in a later article.
Now the plot mostly revolves around assembling the team when evil strikes. Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D are outmatched entirely by this new looming evil and shuffles around trying to bring together all of these characters with their conflicting personalities. The other impressive aspect of the film is how well all of the characters story arcs lead up to this point. Granted, we don't know much about S.H.I.E.L.D agents Clint Barton (Hawkeye) or Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow) but we know enough. Clint is a character that suffers a bit as his back story isn't fleshed out at all. I hope that Marvel does a Hawkeye movie that would also include Black Widow seeing how they are tied together. Multiple S.H.I.E.L.D agents separate in an attempt to bring Steve Rogers, Tony Stark and Bruce Banner into the fold. Agent Coulson, considering his history with Stark goes to inform him while Natasha seeks out Banner and Nick Fury presents Steve with a new mission. Steve jumps on the opportunity considering how it puts him back in his comfort zone, in this time he is a displaced man. Of course, Stark is hesitant at first as he still is as self-centered and over-confident as ever but when he sees the looming danger and the other members of the Avengers Initiative, he jumps ship. Natasha's visit with Bruce is an interesting one, as she isn't entirely sure she can trust him but knows it is vital to recruit him.
The first half of the film is the team coming together and working through their issues with one another. Steve Rogers, being the smart leader that he is, realizes that Loki is working on all of them as he recognizes them as his only threat and by having them at each others throats as opposed to his, is the best strategy to ensure his success. It sets up a couple of fight scenes between the heroes and none of them disappoint. The team slowly comes together, with one event forcing them to want revenge and work extremely well together. From that point the film kicks off into an hour straight of fantastic action sequences that will be memorable for quite sometime. The refreshing aspect of these action sequences is that often with summer blockbuster action romps, we have scenes that seemingly have no place other than just getting the film to the next bigger and better action sequence. In The Avengers, that never happens. The entire film flows together extremely well and all of the characters have plenty of reasons to fight.
Marvel Studios, again, deserves a ton of credit for successfully accomplishing something that almost no one thought was possible. As for the movie itself, yes it is quite possibly the best comic book movie of all time while also being easily one of, if not the best action movie of our generation. The action in the final hour of the film is something that will stick with me for a long time, hell I wouldn't be surprised if I tell my children about how awesome it was and by that time they will probably at least have a decent Justice League movie. (Yes that was a dig at DC for struggling in that department.) Joss Whedon also deserves a lot of credit for writing great dialogue, and hysterical one liners. Robert Downey Jr. shined with Whedon's humorous one liners and everyone else had a few comedic moments. It's surprising when an entire theater laughs so hard that they are on the verge of crying, during a scene that features a destroyed New York City. It is a true testament to Whedon's writing ability, and the actors ability to sell it.
On the subject of the actors, I think everyone will now understand why the cast and crew raved about Tom Hiddleston's performance as Loki in this film. Hiddleston had multiple stand out scenes and even with a majority of the actors. His best scene may have come with Scarlett Johansson where he really showed his ability to deliver lines with an extra kick for evoking emotion. As I stated in a previous article, I was not sold on Chris Evans as Captain America when I first heard it. However, now with his solo movie and this, I can say I was wrong to have doubted Marvel. Evans improved in his role and held up really well in his scenes with Downey. One of my biggest fears with this movie was how he would interact with Downey as he is clearly the most talented actor of the heroes. However, like Iron Man and Captain America in the comics, the two were able to show a tremendous amount of respect for one another while also putting each other down all at once. It is impressive to see how much Evans has come in his role in such short time. Chris Hemsworth, on the other hand, is equally impressive as the God of Thunder Thor. His new found humility mixed with his confidence makes him a easier character to get behind and he has a real screen presence about him. It is very clear that he is incredibly comfortable in his role.
It is sad to see Edward Norton missing from this film, but Mark Ruffalo does a very good job in his role. Everyone involved in creating the actual Hulk deserves a round of applause for creating one of the more realistic Hulks yet. I loved how they used motion capture technology to emulate Ruffalo's facial expressions to his Hulk form. As Bruce Banner, he fits the character like a glove. In fact in terms of shear looks, he looks more like what I would imagine Banner to look like than Norton does. Ruffalo also had great chemistry with the rest of the actors and most notably shined with Downey and Evans. It is nice to know that Ruffalo had been signed to a six film deal and rumor has it that he will appear in either Thor 2 or Captain America 2. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see his character pop up in Iron Man 3 due to fact that Stark has such a high respect for Banner in this film.
The other two remaining heroes would be Black Widow and Hawkeye. Scarlett Johansson is a terrific actress, but was unable to really show it in Iron Man 2. Her character probably didn't even belong in the film but I understand the reasoning. With Whedon's writing, Black Widow comes off as a much stronger character and not as ambiguous as before. The viewer actually pulls for her and begins to feel for her and Hawkeye as they are the only heroes without actual powers. Whedon also excels at writing strong women, which is exactly what Black Widow is. That really is shown in this film, while in Iron Man 2 she may have had at most ten lines. Johansson and Jeremy Renner had tremendous chemistry between each other to the point that it is no shock to hear that they will likely get their own movie together. Renner fits Hawkeye pretty well, but it would have been nice to know more about his character. Luckily, I know about his character already, so it didn't really bother me too much. Renner's ability as an actor really comes through in his performance as he is able to portray the good guy with an edge very well. All in all, the film is tremendous and I will most likely go see it again this weekend. I highly recommend it to everyone and everybody. It is not at all disappointing and never seems to drag even with it's hefty running time.