Captain America: Hulk, smash.
What’s being called the biggest superhero flick of all-time is finally released. Joss Whedon’s The Avengers is an enjoyable B-movie with a wonderful amount of meta humor and some truly exciting action sequences. We have sat through Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man II, Captain America, and Thor in anticipation for the ultimate flick. There was a huge chance that The Avengers would bomb and be totally horrible, but writer/director Joss Whedon gives the audience what they want; a fun time. Is it flawed? Yes, it is — but that will not prevent you from having a good time. Just getting this out of the way: Mark Ruffalo IS the Hulk. Is The Avengers the superhero film to end all superhero films?
When entering your IMAX theater showing The Avengers, be prepared for two hours of a plethora of fun. Joss Whedon’s top-notch script is exciting in its wonderful action sequences, and clever in its frequent use of pop-culture references (Captain America, being a ’40s guy, has trouble in that area). The substance never feels forced nor do we feel that any characters are being rushed. If you’re concerned that your favorite Marvel character will be overshadowed by the awesomeness of Iron Man, think again. Each character is given a [well deserved] fifteen minutes of fame.
For those who doubted Joss Whedon’s ability, you need a serious reality check. Have you not seen Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, and a little film called Cabin in the Woods (who am I kidding; we all have)?! The only time I had any doubt in my mind about the film was news of a post-production 3D transfer, which was a silly move, but more on that soon. Like all of Mr. Whedon’s work, The Avengers feels like a passion project; with a massive amount of effort and skill put into this superb flick.
The Avengers begins with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) being confronted by Loki (Tom Hiddleston) after he breaks out from… somewhere (it is not very clear as he kind of died at the end of Thor until a very mind-boggling post-credit sequence). Loki, being the a-hole that he is, reigns terror on the S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, leading up to his eventual escape. Obviously, he had a little help getting out of there; Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) is hypnotized by Loki and follows his every will, which was ultimately the biggest challenge for Fury and co. as they figure out how to fight the mammoth force of Loki.
This begins the Avengers Initiative — a program which planned to bring some of the world’s most powerful heroes together, hoping they would team up to fight against evil forces. Apart of the Avengers is genius-billionaire-playboy Tony Stark (also known as Iron Man), old-fashioned patriot Steve Rogers (also known as Captain America), radioactive scientist Bruce Banner (also known as The Hulk), the badass with a gun Natasha (also known as Black Widow, and who could forget the demi-God, Thor. Together, this group of extraordinary individuals team up to fight Loki and bring justice to the world.
Now comes the big question: is The Avengers the best superhero flick of all-time? Of course not, The Dark Knight still holds that title. The main aspect that differentiates the two is that The Dark Knight is a film, while The Avengers is a flick. We have a film that succeeds in providing the audience with a fun time (a fitting film to watch with your pals) and does not try and be anything else. Audiences watching The Avengers have most likely seen the previous five films leading up to this, which has proven to be a pleasing payoff to the various origin stories (and Iron Man II). Also, for those complaining about Spider-Man not being in the film, Sony owns the rights to Spider-Man films; Disney/Marvel do not.
Here’s something I absolutely did not expect from Joss Whedon: a post-production 3D conversion. As you all know by this point, I’m the anti-3D — I literally go out of my way to avoid seeing a film in 3D. Not only does it reduce the brightness by at least 15-30%, it destroys your peripheral vision, which is NOT the right way to experience any film. The only reason I saw The Avengers in 3D was due to the fact that it was a press screening — and for some odd reason, they enjoy torturing critics with this painstakingly useless and irritating technology. Note: there will be minor spoilers in the next paragraph.
You still here? Good, because this paragraph is official spoiler territory. Let’s start on why the 3D doesn’t work [especially] in The Avengers. First off, the opening sequence is shot entirely in the dark — who though that it would be a solid idea to make that 30% darker? We can barely tell what is going on, which takes away from the experience. Furthermore, there is a scene where Mark Ruffalo is two-face — where part of his head is blackened out (unless you take your 3D glasses off and embrace the blurriness). Now, after reading all that — do you really want to experience The Avengers in 3D?
Since I’ve already insulted the film a bit, why stop now? The Avengers is a flawed flick — fun, but flawed. I did not feel as if we needed an hour and a half of building up — face it, you know these characters, no need to remind us. Furthermore, the way the film sets up Loki’s return and escape (not spoiling if it’s in the theatrical trailer) is that it is not even remotely explained HOW he returned from his presumable death at the end of Thor. Otherwise, this is a damn good flick with plenty of redeeming qualities.
In the end, it is the charisma these fantastic actors bring to the characters that saves the day. Robert Downey Jr., a truly terrific Tony Stark, continues his smart-assed persona and seems to find an issue with every Avenger (excluding Bruce, because of the similarities in their lines of work). Captain America (Chris Evans) has a more fun persona here, compared to The First Avenger. It’s fun seeing him in the modern-age of technology and being lost in all the pop-culture references. Even though this is a joint film, both are our main leads here, with the best friendship, fortunately.
Do not let my last phrase overshadow your existing opinion of the film; the rest of the characters get just as much screen time, no matter how less meaningful it may be. Thor hasn’t changed much since the prequel, which is a good thing. Chris Hemsworth has this natural charm when he’s on screen, which is why I don’t have much to say regarding his character. Scarlett Johansson is beautiful and badass at the same time, and Jeremy Renner is solid as Hawkeye. The real standout here is Tom Hiddleston, who gives the only PERFECT performance in this film. Wow, just wow.
Brisk, clever, and humorous; The Avengers is mighty Marvel entertainment. With solid direction and a superb script, this is a superhero geek’s wet dream. Go for it!
The Avengers: 4 out of 5