Marvel’s The Avengers movie review
So, over the past four years, Marvel has been forming its battle plan with movies, starting with The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man in 2008, and eventually leading into Thor and Captain America in 2011. Now, at long last, we have the end product — well, for the time being, until the inevitable sequel. We have a compilation piece that brings all these heroes into a smorgasbord of summertime entertainment. Marvel’s The Avengers certainly nailed everything that the anticipation was leading up to.
The story follows Loki (Tom Hiddleston), the ousted brother from Asgard who vows to make the Earth bow to his feet. In order to do this, he manages to convert a few poor humans to his cause and steals the Tesseract, an unlimited source of energy that would grant him immense power. He vows to lead an invasion of alien enemies known as the Chitauri through a portal.
Standing in his way is Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), a man in charge of an agency called S.H.I.E.L.D. Rather than initiate with an alternate plan, he calls on the Avengers Initiative, where various superheroes come together as a team. This includes narcissistic Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), aka Iron Man; the powerful super soldier Captain America (Chris Evans); scientist Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), who wants to keep his angry alter ego The Incredible Hulk at bay; and master assassin Black Widow (Scarlett Johannsen), who is showing great concern for a colleague, Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), over a recent situation. Somewhat crashing the party is Thor (Chris Hemsworth), who manages to return from his land of Asgard to dispense justice to Loki.
What’s great about The Avengers is that it is packed with an overabundant amount of action, but doesn’t rely so heavily on that as it does the chemistry of the team. Captain America feels like a fish out of water missing so many years in his life, yet still knows his loyalty to his country; Banner doesn’t wish to unleash his green menacing side, despite prodding from Stark; and Black Widow finds herself troubled by her past, before she joined S.H.I.E.L.D. as an agent.
This is used pretty well in the second part of the movie, which serves as a build-up for a walloping action finale that features a full-scale war across New York, with the Avengers fighting back against the Chitauri. It’s here that Industrial Light and Magic, along with the other countless CG studios, do their stuff, making this feel like every bit of the superhero epic it is.
But, honestly, the main person to thank here is Joss Whedon. In only his second directorial effort (the first being the Firefly-based Serenity), he’s managed to hit a grand slam out of the park, making action sequences fun to watch (especially when Hulk and Thor are involved) and still throwing in plenty of quips in pure Whedon-istic fashion. One scene involving Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) and a modified weapon is somewhat humorous to watch, along with the Avengers’ initial reactions to one another. (Quote Thor: “You’re all so petty… and tiny!”)
Credit should also be given to the cast. Downey is, as always, amazing as Stark and Iron Man, delivering an ego-laden performance that really lays it on — especially during a face-to-face with Loki in his office. (“I have an army.” “We have a Hulk!”) Evans and Hemsworth do moderately well as Captain America and Thor, respectively, staying true to their characters and knowing where their combat skills lie. Scarlett Johannsen delivers a solid performance as Black Widow, and, as expected, looks good doing it. Renner and Jackson fill their roles significantly, too.
Hiddleston deserves a nod as well. As the core villain going up against all of the Avengers, he’s quite menacing in the role, far more so than he was in last year’s Thor. His devious smile in certain spots shows he means business, and he can surprisingly hold his own in a fight — well, against most folks. No bets against the Hulk.
That being said, Ruffalo is the real surprise here. As the third Hulk to appear in the recent films (the first being Eric Bana, the second a forgettable Ed Norton), he manages to pull off the best performance yet, not only capturing the kind of humanity that Bill Bixby channeled in the original series, but also an essence with the current build of the character. And whenever the CG-powered Hulk appears on the screen, he steals the show — especially near the end. We won’t give it away, but you’ll have fun with it.
If this is how the summer movie season is going to start, we can’t wait to see how much better it gets from here. Joss Whedon and his remarkable cast make Marvel’s The Avengers one of the better superhero films to be released in some time. It’s funny, action packed, and filled with a plotline that won’t leave you scoffing at inaccuracies. In other words, it’s just the fun you were meant to have at the movies. Don’t hesitate.
Oh, and stay through the end credits. Both sequences. Both awesome.