Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comic Book, Sci-Fi
Run Time: 2 hours 22 minutes, Rated PG-13
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Clark Gregg, Gwyneth Paltrow
Written & Directed by Joss Whedon (Serenity, TV’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly)
Those looking for a quick take on one of the most eagerly anticipated movies of all time, look no further: Yes, The Avengers is awesome, and it was well worth the wait.
Rarely does a film with an overabundance of hype live up to it, but in the hands of the red-hot Joss Whedon, anything is possible. I’m sure he could make Watching Paint Dry: The Movie one of the most exciting and courageous films of our generation. He had a hand in writing the script for The Avengers (along with Zak Penn who gets a story credit) and manages to juggle the many multitude of characters in ways that gives them all shining moments.
Credit should also go to Marvel itself, who in the past decade has breathed new life into a set of stale-ass comic book characters. My first job ever was running a comic book shop in the early 90s, and let me tell you that the only hero at that time more lame than Captain American was Iron Man. With the subsequent Marvel Universe films though – Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America: The First Avenger, and Thor – the characters were made cool again. They became relevant and pleasing to the long-time fans of the characters, while introducing Earth’s mightiest heroes to a whole new wave of fans that never read the comics.
The Avengers are of course, Marvel’s original super-hero team that came along after the success of rival comic company DC’s successful Justice League of America super-hero team. In the film, the team consists of Captain America, Tony Stark (Iron Man), Dr. Bruce Banner (The Incredible Hulk) and Thor. There are two humans in the group, the master sharp-shooting assassin Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), and the highly-skilled super-spy Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson).
This film has been brewing for a while, with all of the major characters already being familiar to most of us from their own films. As we know from staying through the end credits of each of these previous films, Nick Fury (the eye-patched Samuel L. Jackson) has been working at assembling the “Avengers Initiative,” and in this film, it finally comes to fruition.
Without needing to establish these characters, The Avengers dives head-first into the action. At its core, it is as simple and as clichéd as one would expect from a comic book – there are bad guys wanting to take over the Earth, and the super-heroes must find a way to stop them.
But Joss Whedon’s Avengers team somehow seems fresh and exciting. All of the members are naturally drawn into the story in ways that make sense, and the ways that they interact stay true to the characters that we’ve come to know. The best part about this and all of the Marvel films is that it never takes itself seriously – I mean, these are men running around in spandex after all.
There is natural friction that occurs when these people are placed in the same room. The ego-maniac Tony Stark is the polar opposite of the straight-and-narrow, old-fashioned Captain America, and as one would expect, they don’t always play nice together.
There are elements of the film that serve as a proverbial wet-dream to comic fan-boys everywhere. Who would win in a fight between Hulk and Thor? Hawkeye and Black Widow? Captain America and Iron Man? How cool is it that even the Incredible Hulk cannot lift Thor’s hammer, but even Thor’s hammer can’t penetrate Captain America’s shield?
The answer is cool beyond imaginable reason.
Miraculously, each of the heroes gets screen-time, and credit the script for not allowing this film to turn into messy nonsensical violence. This isn’t Transformers. Instead, these 2-dimensional characters transcend the madness and some of them even grow. Tony Stark, for example, should be a different person by the time Iron Man 3 rolls around. Hulk is finally a purposeful character as well.
The final battle sequence in The Avengers ranks up there as one of the all-time greatest action/battle sequences ever, especially sequences involving CG. For lack of a better word, I simply marveled at the sheer creativity and utter excitement. As a kid, films like this were the reason that I loved films.
That is the lasting genius of The Avengers movie. Here is a film so eagerly-awaited and buzzed about…a film that has been set-up for us by several cross-over films over the past few years. By the time it arrives, it is not only worth the wait, but it leaves us wanting more. In fact, don’t you dare leave your seats before the credits roll. If you thought that all of these films were building up for a big finish in this film, you were mistaken.
Things have only began, and I for one will be salivating for the next installment.
Opens Friday, May 4th, 2012
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