Suspiciously Similar Poster of the day: Okay, so Captain America’s first proper big-screen outing wasn’t fantastic (although it was a whole lot better than the laughable 1990 version), but this second solo adventure - subtitled The Winter Soldier - seems like a much improved sequel. Following on from the events of The Avengers, Steve Rogers continues to struggle to adapt to contemporary society. However, our favourite supersoldier becomes entangled in a mystery that may endanger the globe - with the help of Black Widow (Scarlett Johannson) and The Falcon (Marvel newcomer Anthony Mackie), Cap must track down the Winter Soldier; an artificially advanced assassin, who just happens to be his previously dead best friend Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan). The teaser trailer will be released on October 24th, whilst the film itself is said to be reminiscent of ’70s spy thrillers… can’t remember any that had cyborg assassins or giant helicarriers though. Also, that poster looks a heck of a lot like the one released for this year’s Star Trek Into Darkness doesn’t it?
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.
WATCH /// FULL THEATRICAL TRAILER FOR THE AVENGERS
Well, this looks like the superhero blockbuster to end all superhero blockbusters. Although I’m firmly in the Dark Knight Rises camp in terms of favourite caped crusader of 2012, The Avengers does seem like fun; loud, flashy, explosiony fun. The trailer gives us a background to the formation of the supergroup, as well as Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) on top form and the first glimpse of the new Hulk (Mark Ruffalo).
The Avengers is released on May 4th.
/// EVEN MORE NEW AVENGERS PHOTOS
I think I’m suffering from Avengers fatigue with the amount of pictures coming from the production of the superhero-fest. It rivals The Dark Knight Rises for most hyped film of 2012, and I’m not even that interested in seeing it. Regardless, here are some more pics from the upcoming blockbuster for your nerdy enjoyment.
NEW AVENGERS IMAGES REVEALED
Taken from Entertainment Weekly’s Avengers special issue, there’s a wealth of new pics from the upcoming superhero extravanganza. There are more over at Den Of Geek, where we get some rather cool profile shots of the Avengers team (although Mark Ruffalo looks as if he’s auditioning for Zoolander 2), scenes from the movie and some behind-the-scenes shots.
See the rest of the photos on Den of Geek
The Avengers is released on May 4th 2012, directed by Joss Whedon and starring Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L Jackson, Mark Ruffalo, Chis Hemsworth and Jeremy Renner.
UPCOMING /// EVEN MORE AVENGERS ARTWORK
It’s not out for another year or so, but the smorgasbord of superheroes that is The Avengers is getting a hell of a lot of early promotion. You expect by May 4th 2012, there’ll be ads everywhere, constant cast interviews and god knows what else. But so far, the artwork has been quite classy and fetching, like a really arty comic book.
Captain America; where do you start? Well this second film adaptation of the character (after the dreadful looking 1990 adap) starts in the modern day with the discovery of Cap’s shield in the frozen tundra and thus begins the most pedestrian of superhero movies in a long while.
The titular Captain is Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), a pencil thin wannabe soldier who is transformed by government scientists into a latern-jawed walking muscle. Evans plays the role ably, making Rogers honourable and somewhat likeable, where he could’ve bee too much of a goody-two-shoes. But he’s also pretty boring.
It may be British cynicism, but a hero who’s your typical all-American guy, just wanting to make the world a better place and playing by the rules doesn’t make for an interesting character. There’s no personal conflict or journey he has to go through; just a dweeb who hates bullies, who then gets to kick the ultimate bullies’ (the Nazis) asses. Nice superheroes never tend to be too great or interesting; compare the likes of Superman and Captain America to Batman and Iron Man, and the latter make far more compelling characters.
The fact that we already know there’s going to be an Avengers film featuring the Captain sort of ruins any suspense or possible attachment to the character. It’s a typical prequel problem; you know he’ll survive, regardless of whatever scrapes he’s involved in. There’s no real urgency either. The film takes an hour to reach any sort of action sequence, which is then wrapped up in six or seven minutes. That said, it is most definitely a comic book film and it knows it. From the tropes and cliches used to the to the framing and cinematography, Captain America is pretty much a comic book brought to life.
However the cast of The First Avenger is pretty top class. Evans; Dominic Cooper, perfectly cast as Howard Stark (Iron Man’s dad); Stanley Tucci as the father figure scientist; Hugo Weaving as the villainous Red Skull and Toby Jones as his scientist sidekick. Tommy Lee Jones is the best thing about it as the gruff, world-weary Col Chester Phillips. But even a talented cast like that can’t turn water into wine. The film’s too formulaic, too franchise-y; to use an all-American/Avenger-related metaphor, if Iron Man was a bald eagle, then Captain America is merely a pigeon.