Notable Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders, Gwyneth Paltrow, Stellan Skarsgård, Paul Bettany
Review: Hello Marvel, welcome to uber-blockbuster status. $200.3 million in one weekend? Yeah, crown a new king after Harry Potter’s record debut weekend of last year. Harry has a wand? Yeah, Avengers have a Hulk. Who didn’t see this coming though? Marvel has been ramping up to this iconic superhero team master film for years, starting back with Iron Man. Witnessing every new back story to follow, fanboys and girls alike dreamt of one day seeing each hero fight side by side on a singular screen, but also see each actor participate as well. First Robert Downey Jr., Edward Norton, and Sammy J all teaming up (Iron Man/Hulk)? Next, men subsequently salivated over Scarlett Johansson’s addition as Black Widow (Iron Man 2), waiting patiently to get another glimpse of her…erm…skills. Then add studly Chris Hemsworth (Thor) and equally gorgeous Captain America aka Chris Evans (might have helped the female demographic). Finally, Marvel rounded out casting with Jeremy Renner signing on as Hawkeye (Thor) and Mark Ruffalo stepping in as the third Bruce Banner in a matter of years (Sorry Edward!). But most importantly, in my eyes at least, was electing super sci-fi “nerd” type Joss Whedon (Firefly/Buffy/Dr. Horrible/Cabin In The Woods) as visionary master on The Avengers. Not only does he deserve recognition for his brilliant script work on easily the most intelligent horror film all year (The Cabin In The Woods), but now boasts a successfully epic superhero movie skyrocketing his popularity to household status. For years fans worshipped Whedon with cult like dedication, and now the mainstream public has 101 reasons to hop on Joss’ bandwagon. The Avengers was virtually a no fail project, but soared even higher than most expected. Nothing is faultless, but The Avengers is pretty damn good.
The Avengers marks the first cooperation between the famous team of superheros all found in the Marvel Universe. While many more heroes are part of this super team, our film focuses on Captain America (Evans), The Hulk (Ruffalo), Iron Man (Downey Jr.), Thor (Hemsworth), Hawkeye (Renner), and Black Widow (Johansson); all brought together by S.H.E.I.L.D director Nick Fury (Jackson). Loki (Hiddleston) has declared war against Earth, infiltrating a remote S.H.E.I.L.D base and stealing an energy source artifact known as The Tesseract which Professor Erik Selvig (Skarsgård) has been testing in coordination with S.H.E.I.L.D. With The Tesseract, Loki possesses the power to open a portal to his world and let in a massive Chitauri army bent on ruling Earth. With options dwindling and time running out, Nick Fury makes the call to green light his Avengers Initiative blueprints and unleash a volatile team powerful enough to protect our world. After gathering the heroes mentioned above, there is a period of doubts as tensions rise and curiosity gets the better of some minds. Together the Avengers are capable of fighting armies worthy of total civilization eradication, but their quarrels threaten not only the success of Fury’s plan…as the fate of all mankind hangs in the balance.
I totally dug how Hulk actually looked like Ruffalo when he morphed, mostly seen in facial close-ups…
It’s impossible not to let your inner child take over in seeing all your favorite childhood superheroes brought to life on-screen simultaneously. Star power was bright enough to blind viewers no matter how the product turned out, but thankfully Whedon and Penn’s script held up to such spectacular players. When the action throttle is thrown full speed ahead, The Avengers turns into some mile a minute thrill ride that showcases every hero using their unique abilities to the full extent. Hawkeye executes crazy no look bow and arrow shots, Hulk throws baddies around like rag dolls, Thor harnesses the almighty incendiary power of lightning, Iron Man gadgets henchmen to death, Cap prances around with his usual heroics, and Black Widow sexily dispatches of Chitaurians with top assassination qualities. Watching the Avengers fight together was a comic book dream come true, all too much child-like fun to ignore. Not in-depth, but 100% truth.
But, nothing is free in today’s world, and for the glorious second half of Whedon’s endeavor we pay with a rather slow build-up. The Avengers follows every background story film format before it, using beginning movie segments to introduce story lines and details important to later plot points. The first half is nothing but a set up, instituted to further later events and create solid ground for the Avengers to push-off of. Every Marvel film has done so, and The Avengers is no exception. But as Iron Man 2 showed us, once the background is established free rein can be given for non-stop story and action. Whedon even delivers this in the final New York battle scene, but only because The Avengers runs two and a half hours long. Those complaining of slow beginnings and lack of intensity should have expected such in the first place, because no team gels from square one…especially in Hollywood. Trust had to be earned, personalities had to clash, and drama has to be established before the Avengers could hold hands while gloriously running into battle. And yes, I understand complaints vocalizing all this inconsequential mumbo jumbo just delayed the inevitable. I too sympathize and agree Whedon threw a ton of content at us in order to get to the good stuff, but wasn’t it worth it? Were you not entertained? Did you not understand the group dynamic tenfold more because of it? Whedon and Penn turned colorful comic book panes into real characters with human emotions and earthly personas. Time and patience is required to nurture creativity, and this script birthed full-fledged characterizations. It was foolish to believe as soon as film started we would witness the Avengers assemble immediately. Only those with unrealistic expectations will be let down by Marvel’s supergroup adaptation.
Like every good first Marvel film in a franchise, words cannot describe how overly stoked I am for The Avengers 2. My mind races feverishly going through the catalogue of unmentioned heroes and villains who can possibly star or cameo in the sequel, one of which we already know (STAY DURING THE CREDITS). Whedon himself throws little hints to missing Avenger members, which makes a great drinking game if you can sneak in a flask of [insert favorite alcoholic beverage] into your local theater. One I’ll give away for those of you hidden under a rock oblivious to Marvel movie news: Ant Man. But not just Ant Man. An Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead/Hot Fuzz/Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) Ant Man I can only pray is played by Simon Pegg or Nathan Fillion. The Avengers endurance test first half sets itself up for glory, and our heroes drive home a phenomenal second half performance sealing some awe-inspiring moments. Joss Whedon has taken the Marvel formula and injected it with Super Soldier Serum, exposed it to massive doses of gamma rays, and harnessed the almighty God of Thunder’s power to bring us a comic book film not fit for this puny world. But one question: who cleans up a rubble filled New York City with dead alien creatures laying across skyscrapers? Not it!
Final Rating: 8.5 destroyed landmarks out of 10
And Nick Fury is still my favorite character….the man with the plan…