|May 4, 2012|
|Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures|
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action
|Marvel’s The Avengers
Besides considering myself somewhat of a nerd when it comes to movies and the like, I have never been a huge comic book junkie, apart from the occasional Spider-Man comic I would purchase from yard sales when I was in grade school. Though not completely knowledgeable when it comes to comic book lore, I still found myself extremely excited when Christopher Nolan’s take on Batman became a sensation, proving that comic book heroes had a place in mainstream media. Needless to say, when Marvel came out with Iron Man in May of 2008, I was skeptical even though I had been a complete fan of that summer’s The Dark Knight. After finally viewing Iron Man, I was completely sold on it, mainly due to Robert Downey Jr’s performance in the role he was born to play.
Fast-forward four years to 2012, after five Marvel films, all somewhat interconnected, I still had some skepticism towards the release of The Avengers, mainly because I questioned how a) they could possibly top the five films that had blew my expectations previously and b) how they could handle that many characters and still keep things fresh and exciting. Following the conclusion of the midnight screening of The Avengers, I can easily make the statement that next to The Dark Knight, The Avengers is one of the best comic book adaptations ever produced.
In the age old good versus evil story, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), the half-brother of Thor (Chris Hemsworth), comes to Earth to steal the tesseract, a highly sought after self-sustaining energy source. Planning to bring an army of Chitauri, a hostel alien race, to invade and enslave Earth, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and the group known as S.H.I.E.L.D. aim to stop Loki and send a message to the universe that Earth is not to be messed with. Combining the five prior Marvel films, Fury brings together the Avengers initiative, a group of superheroes that can act as guardians of Earth. The only problem is that they all have their own agendas and temperaments with one another. Bringing together Captain America (Chris Evans), a super soldier, Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), a high profile billionaire with a high tech armor suit, Thor, the Asgardian God of thunder, The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), a scientist, who, after being exposed to too much gamma radiation develops a condition that causes him to become a giant green monster when provoked, as well as Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and The Black Widow (Scarlett Johanssen), two members of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Filled to the brim with action sequences, powerful moments, and hilarious anecdotes, all of the characters are handled with enormous care, a credit that must be given to the master storyteller Joss Whedon, who acts as a carnival juggler, who is able to keep 15 or more bowling pins in the air at one time without dropping a single one. Each battle, whether between the perfect villain Loki and Captain America or Thor and Iron Man or The Incredible Hulk and The Black Widow, each becomes an event with awe-inspiring details and effortless grace. The characters jump out of the screen and with each having their own films prior, have enough back-story to keep from detracting from the film at hand.
The boss battle is epic, keeping the impossible tasks completely impossible until the appropriate time has passed. Too many times, boss battles end prematurely or with very little effort. For example, the boss battle between Iron Man & War Machine versus Mickey Rourke’s Whiplash was over before it started in Iron Man 2, leaving a void at the end of the film. The Avengers, however, face a battle that keeps them (and the audience) guessing until a logical solution presents itself out of the war at hand. By doing this, you garner more respect for what these heroes have to power through and it finally gives off the notion that these villains could not be taken out with a simple swing of Thor’s hammer.
There are obviously tons of cheesy parts that fill this film, including many of Nick Fury’s speeches and Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) and his Captain America trading cards. But to offset this campy nature, Joss Whedon weaves in his smart humor that often comes full circle much later in the film, including a few of my favorite bits including a 10 dollar bill, a Wizard of Oz reference, and many shortened speeches from Loki, interrupted by Hulk or Iron Man.
Without a doubt the best Marvel film to date, The Avengers reaches almost miraculous levels of intricacy without losing pace or character arcs. In fact, Joss Whedon handles his giant cast of characters perfectly, delivering satisfying arcs for everyone involved, a juggling act that only an experienced director could enact. There is no one man show, as every character has their turn in the spotlight and with justified reasons that are not just for show. There is also a balance between wit and action that I cannot say I have witnessed in an action film prior to this. Running gags are established with punchlines that appear at opportune moments much later in the film, delivering a sort of smart banter between the director and his audience. Also, the action sequences rival almost any superhero film to date, with no characters being lost in the shuffle and even breathing new life into the epic sequences that appear in the trailers. At a brisk two hours and 22 minute run-time, The Avengers could have easily been extended much longer without complaint, but still delivers enough punch for money.
With more individual films on the horizon as well as talks of a second Avengers, it will be interesting to see what possibly another director could bring to the films. Joss Whedon’s career will certain take off from here on out, which thousands of fanboys believe has been long overdue. With the film reaching over $1 billion worldwide, The Avengers is set to break all the box office records and rightfully so.