There had to be a contingent of people at Marvel that felt spending years of time and nearly a billion dollars in money to facilitate bringing The Avengers to the screen was too big a gamble. After all, the idea of creating a film universe intertwined like the comic books they are based on, spanning over five different films from four different franchises, of varying success, and culminating in one super-sized blockbuster has to fall into the realm of craziest ever in film history. After having seen The Avengers, I have to fathom that those people, along with any other doubters are long gone from the employ of Marvel.
What Marvel have accomplished with bringing The Avengers to audiences is something special and should be commended. Oh and the film is pretty decent as well.
Building off of the events of Thor, The Avengers sees Loki (Tom Hiddleston) up to no good as he steals a dangerous artifact from the covert ops organization, S.H.I.E.L.D. This artifact holds the power to open a portal in space, which Loki plans on using to bring an army of aliens to conquer the mortals of earth. Of course an event of this magnitude requires more than just one super hero to get the job done and S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) has just the right “team” in mind. He sets about assembling Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) into a team, albeit under false pretenses.
The assembly of the team establishes the characters and their differing personalities, motives and relationships towards one another but it is also somewhat of a slog. After about the first half hour I started to get a bit restless, and so did the crowd I watched it with. Sadly, it takes about another half hour before things really get going. Fortunately once they do get going, the film took me on a phenomenal thrill ride that few films have in recent memory.
Similar to last year’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon, The Avengers lay waste to an entire city during their climactic final battle. But unlike the bombast filled Bay film, The Avengers never feels tiring. Writer/Director Joss Whedon (Buffy, Firefly) has interspersed moments of levity into the incredible carnage. Every time I felt I was reaching the point of sensory overload, something absurd, yet fully fitting, would cut the tension and reset my attention span. Superhero movies should be fun and these moments of levity show how much Whedon got the material with which he was entrusted to work.
In addition to Whedon fully grasping the material, the entire cast is completely in touch with the material. Everybody from Downey Jr., whom steals scenes every chance he can, to Jeremy Renner (as Hawkeye) has bought into these characters. The shining star of the film though might very well have been Mark Ruffalo as Dr. Banner and his alter ego, The Hulk. Ruffalo, best known for romantic comedies, is charming as Banner and terrifying as the Hulk. It is a fantastic performance all around and one that is sure to get him a shot at his own Hulk film.
After last summer, where so many of the biggest blockbusters failed to fully satisfy (even those setting up this film), The Avengers kicks off the 2012 summer movie season in style. It is a roller coaster ride worth experiencing in theaters. Go see it, you won’t be disappointed.
4 / 5