The Avengers – Review
Film: Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Samuel L. Jackson, Clark Gregg, Stellan Skarsgard, Cobie Smulders
Directed by: Joss Whedon
Produced by: Kevin Feige
Written by: Zak Penn (story), Joss Whedon
Music by: Alan Silvestri
Running Time: 143 minutes
There was a ton of hype building up over several years for The Avengers. As each Marvel film came out — Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, and Captain America — the anticipation for The Avengers, which would be a culmination of all these movies, intensified more and more. Most of these movies featured a little post-credits epilogue that gave us hints for what would comprise The Avengers.
This anticipation was even further fueled by lackluster efforts such as Iron Man 2 and Captain America, which so lazily adhered to the superhero movie formula that they appeared to be made for no other reason than to provide background for The Avengers. So, given all of this, I was thinking that The Avengers had better not disappoint. I wasn’t expecting a superhero flick on the level of The Dark Knight (there was no way The Avengers could be as gritty or dark; not only was this a lofty standard to try to meet, but it was a style that would just not work for this material), but I expected something awesome nonetheless.
Indeed, with Joss Whedon (The Cabin in the Woods, TV’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly) at the helm, The Avengers ultimately gave us about as much as we could expect and desire. The film effectively blended entertaining action with more humanistic issues, such as overcoming team dysfunction. It also included a nice touch of comedy to keep things interesting and to remind us that it knew exactly what it was — an epic superhero flick whose main purpose was to give us a nice piece of popcorn entertainment.
I won’t get into all of the background stories from the other films too much, but the primary antagonist in The Avengers is Thor’s incredibly jealous stepbrother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Loki teams up with a belligerent alien race to retrieve the Tesseract — a source of potentially unlimited energy — and to become the de facto ruler of Earth (the classic “take over the world” ploy). In response, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson in his 984th movie), the director of SHIELD (an espionage and law-enforcement agency) resorts to the “Avengers Initiative”, which — you guessed it — unites the handful of Marvel heroes to whom we had been introduced in previous films.
However, dysfunction ensues, and this is only amplified as the Avengers begin to uncover some previously concealed and morally questionable motives of SHIELD. Divided over how they feel about working with SHIELD and how to best counteract Loki’s heinous actions, the heroes’ moral fortitude and ability to work together are put to the test even more so than their individual powers.
I imagine it must be quite daunting to take on a movie that involves so many big-name characters and big-name actors, and do justice to everyone while simultaneously delivering a good, not-too-convoluted story. Joss Whedon delivers the goods in this regard. A somewhat long running time of 143 minutes was required to allow all of these major characters and actors to shine, but it was well worth it. The film never dragged and was always entertaining.
Younger audiences could enjoy the explosive action scenes, while more diverse audiences could enjoy the surprisingly high amount of wit and humor (much of which was courtesy of Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man), as well as the deeper, humanistic struggles. Also, the word from my comic-book-fan friends is that the movie included a lot of little Easter eggs geared toward that segment (of which I am not a part), so there really was something for everyone.
This was no Dark Knight, but what made it work is that it was never supposed to be and it never tried to be. The Avengers and Joss Whedon knew what this film was supposed to be, and they ultimately gave that to us. This is the new bar for Marvel superhero movies, and it is a standard that the film-makers can take pride in having created.
Tommy D’s Score:
3.5/4 Tommy Ds
Posted on May 14, 2012, in Reviews and tagged Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Captain America, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders, Firefly, Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Jeremy Renner, Joss Whedon, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Stellan Skarsgard, The Avengers, The Cabin in the Woods, The Dark Knight, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Tom Hiddleston. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.