Comic Book Movie Review: The Avengers

Four years ago, it all started with a mention of the Avengers Initiative.  Marvel Studios had just released their first movie, Iron Man, and with started a grand plan that hadn’t really been attempted before.  Sure, Aliens vs. Predators combined two franchises, but Marvel Studios set out to launch their individual character movies, while also building up a single story line within the movies that would lead to a single movie.  Anticipation had been building to a point where my biggest worry about the movie was that expectation had been built up so high, that it would never have a chance to actually live up to it.  Thankfully, that was not the case, as The Avengers is a fantastic movie.  I’ll try to keep spoilers to a minimum, and talk in general sense about what worked, and what didn’t work in the movie.

The Avengers

Directed by Joss Whedon

Written by Zak Penn

Starring
Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man
Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America
Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk
Chris Hemsworth as Thor
Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow
Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye
Tom Hiddleston as Loki
Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson
Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill
Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury

Not wanting to give away too many spoilers on the opening weekend, I’m going to be vague about the story.  If you want more details, here’s a link to the Wikipedia entry.  But anyways, The Avengers are a group of superheroes that have been pulled together when the people of Earth are threatened by Loki, and the Chitauri army that he has been given.  This army has been given to Loki with the goal of the Chitauri ultimately getting the Tesseract.

I’m going to start with what I didn’t like, and it’s not much.  And really, it is very nitpicky.  I don’t think it’s immediately clear why Captain America would question Nick Fury’s intentions.  Sure, you can say that it was part of Loki’s influencing that seemed to affect everyone.  But even that was loosely hinted upon.  Also, it might be clearer of why Steve Rogers would go snooping around if we had seen the scenes of him trying to adapt to the present that had been cut.  But, like I said, it’s not a big issue.

Now to some things I really liked.  The problem in telling stories with groups like The Avengers or Justice League of America is trying to make a threat big enough to actually be a threat to a group this powerful.  This movie did a wonderful job with this.  Sure, alien invasion is something that has been done many times, but it’s used so much because it works.  The key is making the invasion interesting, which is the role Loki fills.  Tom Hiddleston’s Loki is one of the best villain performances I have seen.  Every line had a certain menace to it.  You could never be comfortable with Loki, because it seemed like everything that would happen was all part of his plan.

Joss Whedon’s influence on the script is also clear.  There’s a lot of subtle lines that go a great way to add characterization and some comedy to the movie.  Not too much comedy, but enough for it to not become one giant depressing movie.  I felt the script did a fantastic job of showing Captain America as a man that has been frozen for 70 years, and Thor as someone not from Earth.  With Captain America, this is a very important thing about the character.  He is a man out of time.  He shouldn’t be talking like everyone else.  He shouldn’t get the cultural references that everyone else gets.  He shouldn’t be used to some things that are common in today’s society.  (I might review the Blu-ray when it comes out to see what the deleted Captain America scenes are.)

The action sequences were all well done.  You got all of the team-up moments that someone watching The Avengers could possibly want to see.  There’s really not much to say about it, because descriptions don’t do it justice.

There are 2 end credits scenes.  One is in the middle, the other is at the very end.  I’m not going to tell you exactly who it is, only that it is not someone that has previously been in one of the live action movies.  I will admit that I did not immediately recognize who it was, and I am ashamed.  After looking up pictures of this person, it should have been obvious.  But, in my defense, I’ve never actually read any stories with this character.

Ultimately, I highly recommend that you see this movie.  You will not be disappointed.  Unless you’re A. O. Scott.

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