The Avengers Review
by Ryan Allen
People wanted a show, and they got one. Marvel’s The Avengers thunders onto the screen with such tremendous velocity that one can only “marvel” at the epic-ness of all six superheroes battling together in one film. Director Joss Whedon packs in as much barraging action as he possibly can, equally highlighting each hero’s awe-inspiring abilities.
The film does lack in emotional depth, but that’s to be expected for an action blockbuster like this one. Prolonged arguments and grudges the heroes have towards each other also grow a bit tedious; it takes a considerable amount of time to drive them together. That notwithstanding, The Avengers is a tremendous visual feast that totally absorbs the audience into the action.
The film cleverly integrates elements from Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger to draw the characters together. While Nick Shield (Samuel L. Jackson) and the S.H.I.E.L.D. organization explore a strange blue cube known as the “tesseract”, Thor’s vengeful brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) comes to Earth to take over the planet. After ravaging S.H.I.E.L.D.’s headquarters and stealing the tesseract, Loki begins his quest for world domination, claiming that the ultimate freedom he can give to humans is enslavement (or something ridiculous like that).
In response, Fury immediately recruits the Avengers. Scarlett Johansson plays the beguiling Black Widow (Iron Man 2), a mysterious ex-Russian agent that quickly incapacitates an entire band of armed thugs while tied to a chair. She is then sent by Fury to bring in the Hulk. Mark Ruffalo replaces Eric Bana and Edward Norton to play a sulking Bruce Banner, who’s constantly afraid he’ll let “the other guy” out if he becomes too agitated. While I thought Norton was fantastic in The Incredible Hulk, he never seemed like much of a team player; Ruffalo better fits into the Avengers squad. And in this movie, the Hulk can really smash.
Robert Downey Jr. returns as the snarky Tony Stark, a self-proclaimed “billionaire genius playboy philanthropist” who also goes by Iron Man. The recently defrosted Captain America (Chris Evans) clashes with Stark and other heroes throughout the movie. Thor returns to protect the human race, but attempts to elevate himself above the rest of the Avengers by calling them “puny”. Needless to say, that didn’t sit well with Stark.
The movie also introduces newcomer Jeremy Renner (Mission: Impossible 4, The Hurt Locker) as Hawkeye, a sharp-shooting archer whom Loki quickly picks out as a possible subject to convert to his army. Though little back-story is given on Hawkeye, little is needed. If the audience is willing to accept the incredible coincidence that an evil god from another planet has shown up to conquer Earth at the same time that Nick Fury has gathered all five other superheroes as part of an “Avengers initiative”, then the appearance of one more won’t seem peculiar in the slightest.
The central message is fairly obvious. Much of the film involves internal problems, disputes and banter between the solipsistic heroes. It’s only when they agree to “assemble” and fight together as a team that they can overcome Loki’s devilish schemes.
The special effects are undeniably superior to any other past superhero movie, and set a high bar for this summer’s The Dark Knight Rises and The Amazing Spider-Man to contend with. Iron Man’s explosive battle in the sky with Loki’s army easily beats his last battle against all those Iron Man prototypes in Iron Man 2, and the way the film seamlessly weaves characters into fight sequences highlights the talents of all the heroes.
Whedon had a lofty goal to reach, trying to tie all six heroes together while maintaining the wit, charm and humor of past Marvel blockbusters, but he easily surpasses it with vivacious interplay and an exhilarating conclusion.
3 ½ out of 4 stars