Release Date: May 4, 2012 (3D/2D theaters and IMAX 3D)
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures, Marvel Studios, Paramount Pictures
Director: Joss Whedon
Screenwriter: Joss Whedon
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Cobie Smulders, Clark Gregg, Samuel L. Jackson
Genre: Action, Adventure
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action throughout, and a mild drug reference)
How do you make a superhero film work where 75% of the team have all the same powers, are very uninteresting, and ridiculously cliche? The answer…hire Joss Wheadon to write and direct the film. It was almost a no brainer, right? This movie needed someone who was an expert in writing really great weird shit!
Avengers was potentially the “end all” for the comic book/superhero film genre – there’ve been SO many since X-Men came out in 2000, and the question swarming around virally, as of late, has been if the Superhero movie has warn out its welcome. One thing I KNEW is that, if this movie failed, all redemption would lay with the Dark Knight Rises, and even then it would be slow climb back into the hearts of fans. Thankfully, the Avengers did better than anyone could have hoped for.
The story is a simple, and all too familiar one – save the Earth from an intergalactic peril while reminding us, through a series of hokey dialog and colorful costuming (bearing reds and blues) that patriotism can “save” the world. This film is all about the recruitment of the Avengers Initiative , and Nick Furry brings together Earth’s Mightiest heroes (even though Thor lives on another planet) to fight an unknown enemy who’s enlisted the services of Loki, leading the attack on Earth to make way for his coming. It is, of course, up to the “chemical mixture” to stop this attack…they just have to get along first.
Now if you’re like me, and you don’t necessarily ”like” how Marvel’s trying to take over the cinematic world and how it used it’s earlier “pro forma” films to help viewers get excited for the Avengers, you’re still probably going to enjoy it. I don’t think you need to be a fan of the superhero film genre, this is just a good action film and maybe one of the best.
Joss Wheadon is best known for his work on Buffy the Vampire Slayer – a show about an unorthodox family of friends that get along so much better than anyone would expect. It’s filled with supernatural occurrences, wonderfully loving moments, tantalizing action sequences, and a wit that goes beyond your normal television program – and it’s the wit that Joss Wheadon is so good at writing that gives this film its edge.
At the film’s core is a focus on character, developing a story that’s more than just explosion after explosion. (Despite the fact that you can’t go five minutes without seeing something crash or blowup.) Not only does Wheadon stay true to each character’s storyline in their solo films, he also brings each of their own individual personalities (as defined by their movies) into the heart of the Avengers. In turn, this gave each hero a voice that not only made the film that much better, it allowed us to sit back and truly enjoy a story that took four years to develop.
Much of the script itself is corny (which stays true to form to the original comic book which started in the 60′s) delivering a collection of heroes whose superheroic personas originated due to troubling situations, making their powers more of a curse than a gift. This is not your typical Marvel movie where the lines from each character feels forced, oddly fitting into the script because the writers weren’t sure how to handle it. The Avengers contain lines where, quite frankly, everything said is just as important as everything done.
Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) spends time outside of the American ideal in Kalcutta doing good by nurturing diseased victims to health. Bruce is asked to join up in the fight against the unseen enemy (I use the word ‘asked” loosely) not because of his “green” attitude, but because of his experience with gamma radiation. And because of his more scientifically driven mind, he hits it off off almost immediately with Tony Stark, (Robert Downey Jr.) developing a bromance that will make every macho man in the theater cuddle with his best guy friend in a moment of zen.
Cap’n Merica (Chris Evans) is just as loyal to the cause as he was before being frozen for 70 + years, following orders because that’s what a good soldier does. He’s so loyal, in fact, that he pays Stark no mind with his sarcastic comments on his outfit. But even loyalty won’t blind the Captain of fishy dealings hidden from the team’s sight.
As much fun as Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is in the film, he’s probably the most lifeless character. He resembles the likeness of a stereotypical professional athlete, all brawn and no brains. However, he’s still able to keep you laughing after talking about his “adopted” brother Loki. (Tom Hiddleston)
And the final two players, Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), play their parts as non-powered superheroes exceptionally well. Black Window’s introductory scene where she lays the smack down…and her chair…on a Russian mob was exciting and humorous. And Hawkeye portrays a confidence and level headedness that makes you wonder if HE could go toe to toe with the Mighty Thor himself.
But enough about the characters themselves, this film’s life is within its wit and charm. As already stated, each hero has an important role and voice in the film, Wheadon spares no expense. Going into the theater, I wasn’t expecting to giggle or laugh as much as I did. I knew Iron Man would have a number of good lines to tickle my funny bone, as well as Thor with his Shakespearean banter in a modern, 21st century world. But never in my wildest dreams would I have thought deep, belly shaking laughter would come from my mouth due to things said by the Captain as he “got” the references, or things done by the Hulk, bashing the antagonist in the middle of his profound and elegant bit of public oratory.
Likewise, the special effects are top notch, and some of the best I’ve ever seen. The climactic alien invasion coming through the teseract’s portal was so huge and massive that it has to be shot in a major city… Cleveland perhaps? And the CGI effects clustered with the real life, unanimated segemnts never look odd or out of place. Tied in with the CGI are explosive action scenes that never slow down or get boring. And even though I had many moments where I unenthusiastically thought, “Oh, you blew up another building…good job…” they were always a sight to see.
With all this praise I’m giving the film, let’s not forget that this IS an action film at its best…which means the depth of the story is not that significant. Despite how well the characters are treated, this film does not expand any new horizons in substantial content, thought provoking ideas and concepts, or new and innovative script writing techniques. This is, without a doubt, a movie that relies mostly on its action and funny banter between characters. That is in NO WAY a negative cinematic aspect (as much as it may sound that way) but more of a comment on its overall film qualities – great job in these areas, but what about everything else? I will certainly enjoy this film multiple times in the future, (having already seen it twice…two times on Saturday) and definitely OWN it on DVD once it’s released, but I can’t give it a rating higher than an 8, nor put it into my top five comic book films of all time list. With that said, however, this is still a FUN movie.
Marvel has done their cinematic name well! If this is what we should expect to see in the future for Marvel films, then I can’t wait for the sequel! (Oh Thanos, your chin entices me!)