Marvel’s The Avengers was a fantastic movie and wonderful payoff for everyone who was waiting since the first post-credits scene back in 2008’s Iron Man. The film is a blast to watch from the sheer spectacle of the fights to the character interaction, and most importantly like all other Marvel films it stands on its own while clearly being a part of a grander design. It’s very impressive how the film manages to be its own while simultaneously being the sequel to several different franchises. I’m of the opinion that it shouldn’t be necessary to do ‘homework’ to watch a film, so I’m happy to report to anyone who hasn’t seen the previous films or read the source material that it isn’t necessary to do your ‘homework’. There is no other movie franchise quite like what Marvel Studios has set up, and the culmination of their work pays off with definite crowd pleasing results.
The film was directed and written by Joss Whedon, whose only previous film was Serenity, is infused with his flair which made him famous with such cult hit TV series as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, and Dollhouse while still remaining within the bounds of the established characters. The Avengers proves that Whedon knows how to not just create great dialogue and character moments but also create huge scenes of spectacular action and destruction as well as bring it all together in a satisfying manner. The film feels balanced between each character’s screen time and who gets their time in the spotlight. With such a large cast in a film with characters who have each clearly shown their ability to be leads in their own films The Avengers could have easily been a disaster of trying too hard. This movie could have had too much going on, but the film’s relatively simple plot, fun action, and great character work kept the film from imploding.
The cast was fantastic. Were these the best performances? I’d be willing to bet that no one receives a nomination from the Academy, but these performances will be remembered by audience members everywhere for being great and fun to watch. Plus I’d like to think that while I may love these films and characters that these actors will go on to beat their own performances here in future work. Each actor gave excellent performances, but Mark Ruffalo steals the show.
His take on Banner is a wonderful take on a man who has accepted his fate and who somehow manages to find the light side of things despite his curse. This sense of acceptance gives Banner’s transformations a greater sense of vicarious thrill for the audience when we finally get to see Hulk smash. Not to diminish the other actors in the film as they all bring the same greatness as they brought in their previous appearances, but Scarlett Johasson is the next stand out performance. Her Black Widow is kick ass in every way you would want a female non-superpowered super-assassin. She’s clever, deceptive, and deadly as she holds her own in the same battle where Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, and the Hulk duke it out with the Chitauri forces. And being portrayed by the beautiful Scarlett certainly doesn’t hurt the performance.
The visual effects and battle scenes are the best yet of any Marvel Studios film. Watching the Helicarrier, the flying aircraft carrier home to SHIELD command, rise up was awesome as it looked surprisingly realistic. The Chitauri forces looked fearsome, and the Hulk looks even more real than he has in his previous two films. Not only does the Hulk more real, but the sense of how massive the Hulk is on display much better which lends the completely CGI character more believability. The newest Iron Man armor was as impressive as any that have come before it in visual terms and in sheer in-story coolness. The action was the most thrilling and well choreographed of any Marvel Studio film or any other superhero film before it. The 3D is actually pretty good for being post-converted. It’s clear they planned on that and it pays off for them as the 3D does not hinder the film. Personally it didn’t do anything to enhance my enjoyment, but the 3D was well done.
‘Even with all of this praise there must be something wrong’ someone might ask, and the answer is not really. The film is arguably the best superhero film yet although I’ll stick with The Dark Knight as the best superhero film as my bias, but this film is not perfect. Tom Hiddleston gives a great performance as Loki, the would be king of Asgard and Earth, but the problem lies in that Loki could have been more menacing. It wasn’t that Loki didn’t work as a villain, but that an even greater sense of evil would have made Loki a more enjoyable person to root against. Another weak point comes in the form of the score. I don’t want to sit here and say the score was terrible because that would be a lie. Like Loki the film’s score isn’t bad at all-it’s actually good, but it could have had more to it. I guess the only real complaint I have is that the Tesseract harness technology looks too much like Stark built it. I wish the production team had ventured out beyond the Iron Man/Stark aesthetic.
Another weak point comes in the form of the Chitauri. In terms of greater story for the Marvel Cinematic Universe I’m sure they’ll be seen again, but in terms of breaking the story of the Avengers down it really didn’t matter who Loki’s army was. This takes away from their menace. Not that they didn’t serve the story’s propose, but there is little development on them other than what they represent for the heroes of Earth and to Loki, a major threat and a means to an end respectively.
Overall though this is definitely Marvel Studio’s best film and a great film period. Regardless of genre and summer blockbuster status The Avengers is fun thrill ride of a movie filled with action and laughs. I highly recommend this film.