Well folks, here is the first of the handful of movie super-events of 2012. Opening before we’re treated to Christopher Nolan’s epic Bat-trilogy conclusion The Dark Knight Rises, Marc Webb-directed reboot The Amazing Spider-Man, Peter Jackson’s return to the Shire with The Hobbit, Ridley Scott revisiting the world of Alien in Prometheus and Tarantino’s Django Unchained, Buffy creator and all around highly-regarded writer/director Joss Whedon brings us The Avengers (Or Avengers Assemble to us Brits, because apparently we might have gotten it confused with the fantastic British TV series The Avengers, or the horrible film based on said TV series)
This film is a biggie for the Marvel comics franchise and for comic book and superhero movie fans alike. Bringing together superheroes from the other recent Marvel comics movies for the first time ever on screen, Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), as well as promoting secondary characters from those movies in the way of Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), The Avengers sets to create this epic line-up of epically-sized characters in a battle of epic proportions. Does it succeed?
Yes. Yes it does. More than you can possibly imagine.
The story of The Avengers is thus: following up events slowly being built up to in previous Marvel movies, The Avengers deals with Thor’s half-brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) making a deal and plans that threaten the safety of the planet. In light of the world being under the threat of attack, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) assembles our heroes into a team to protect the world from this threat and stop the maniacal Norse god in his tracks. But of course, before the team can do this, they are going to have to work together…
My real concern going into this movie was how the hell you were going to juggle all these big power names and egos in one 140 minute-long feature film. Previously the majority of these characters had a film entirely to their own; how was bringing together all of these brilliant characters together in one place possibly going to work? One of the main solutions to this is our writer/director: geek idol Joss Whedon. Whedon is no stranger to strong developed characters, balancing plotlines and comic books (as fans of his previous work such as Buffy, Firefly, The Cabin In The Woods and Dollhouse will know). A master of his craft, Whedon’s script for The Avengers did well to ease my questioning. No characters are overshadowed and they all have their own voice and their own moments where they especially shine.
All of the characters retain their standing from their previous separate movies, but Whedon does well to still inject his own flavour into every one. And by this I mean, the film is funny. Very funny. Probably the most intentionally funny superhero movie so far. There are some great visual jokes and one-liners that off-set the uber-serious situations without detracting from them, with that classic Whedon charm and humour that could potentially fail if attempted by others.
One will probably go into The Avengers coming off the trailers expecting some damn awesome action, and you know what, you shall be pleasantly entertained throughout. The action scenes are top-notch and the effects work will not disappoint. I shall recommend watching it in 3D but the experience will be worth it whichever dimension you want to see it in, to be honest. The film works on every level, and not just visually.
Personally I feel this movie somehow becomes more than just all the brilliant crash-bang-wallop set pieces. Like The Walking Dead, it’s not the window dressing that’s the focus (zombies in TWD, catastrophic super-action in Avengers); it’s the relationships between characters and how we watch conflicts unfold and friendships develop that holds our attention. All the different attitudes and lifestyles showcased across the characters do well when put in a room together, and there are several occasions where the tension of unfolding of events becomes just as powerful and effective as the next fight scene.
All the actors shine, especially the new guy in franchise Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk, who has the whole ‘You don’t want to see me when I’m angry’ shtick approached in a very engaging and interesting way. My impression from the trailers was that this movie would end up becoming Iron Man featuring The Avengers, with the biggest star overshadowing the lesser known characters and actors. And in a sense, yes, Downey Jr. is brilliant as Tony Stark as usual, but as I have said, all the characters are equal and brilliant in their positions, even Nick Fury and another new character to the Avengerverse, Maria Hill (How I Met Your Mother’s Cobie Smulders) have their moments.
It is without a doubt an instant superhero classic for me, and most definitely recommended. This movie goes above and beyond all expectations, and it is a wonderful way to tie together the previous movies in an all-encompassing story that does well to balance an entire selection of heroes with pitch-perfect dialogue and blockbuster action. Marvellous.