The Avengers Review

”If we can’t protect the Earth, you can be damn sure we’ll avenge it!”

-Tony Stark to Loki

This is is it. This is the movie fanboys have been hyping ever since we got a glimpse at Nick Fury at the end of Iron Man. The Avenger’s is Marvel’s very ambitious attempt to bring their A-listers(at least  the ones they possess the rights to) all into one movie where they team up to fight evil. To accomplish this momentous task, Marvel brought inJoss Whedon(Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Serenity) to both co-write and direct this film of sky high expectations. Whedon, whom has proven himself to be excellent with ensemble casts, has not directed a theatrical film since 2005′s Serinity which may have left fans scratching their heads when he was announced. On top of the wildcard director, the film also has to bring in all of the stars from the past Marvel Cinematic Universe films into one movie without taking away from the other casts members.   As cool as the epic team-up sounds on paper, is it really possible to bring all of these elements into one movie together under one vision?

The Avengers begins with a brief prologue in which Loki(Tom Hiddleston) arrives on earth and steals the cosmic cube(seen in Captain America and Thor) from S.H.I.E.L.D.’s underground facility. Loki manages to brainwash both Hawkeye and Erik Selvig(both from Thor) to use them to help him harness the cosmic cube.  The director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Nick Fury(Samuel L. Jackson) uses this as an opportunity to reactivate the Avengers Intiative that has been hinted at in five different movies (Iron ManIron Man 2The Incredible HulkThorCaptain America). Fury uses his eyes,Phil Coulson(Clark Gregg), and hands, Black Widow(Scarlett Johansson) to gather the various members of the team together. We get to play a little bit of catch-up with all of the members of the team. Stark(Robert Downey Jr.) is now in a relationship with Pepper and has moved on to build a new tower, Bruce Banner(now played by Mark Ruffalo) has managed to avoid a Hulk event for over a year, and Steve Rogers(Chris Evans) has been staying in shape ever since he was unfrozen. These people are all brought together to stop Loki and retrieve the cosmic cube before he assembles an army. Eventually the God of thunder Thor(Chris Hemsworth) manages to hear of Loki’s schemes and decides to go back to earth to bring his brother back home. The continues as all of these characters must learn to work together in order to figure out Loki’s grand plan before the army is assembled.

The story for this film is actually very basic despite the five movie build-up. Despite the fact that this movie can be boiled down to a very simple plot, it is still extremely well done. Because of the massive  amount of characters to reintroduce the movie had to play it simple so that all of the characters could have their own developments. This movie has a very large ensemble cast and the story of the film plays things very carefully so that none of them get lost in the shuffle.  The pacing of this story is generally pretty decent other than the slower beginning of  the movie which does start at a snail’s pace(it is a fast snail). The only weakness I could really find in the story was the Chitauri. Who are the Chitauri? Exactly. The Chitauri is the army that Loki uses in the final act of the film to attack New York. This army comes across as extremely generic and could have been an army of flying monkeys with little changing in the film. This is a small gripe in the big picture, but  it would have been nice to have some explanation or development of the army. Overall the story is basic, but it works well and in favor of what Marvel wants this flick to do.

What really allows this movie to be truly entertaining is the interaction of all of these superstar characters in one movie. Seeing Tony Stark interact with any one of the characters in the movie is worth some laughs, and seeing Captain America attempt to fit in with the rest of the team on a social level was comical. This interaction really is what drives the movie(other than the huge action set pieces) as the chemistry in each character relationship pushes the team a little further for the better or worse.  There are times when the interaction is funny, there are times it is chilling, and there are times when it feels intense. The Avengers certainly are an unlikely and unusual team that only Samuel L. Jackson(not Nick Fury) would assemble. Using Loki as the main villain was also great as he has personal ties to Thor which continues  to give his character multiple dimensions as the fallen son of Asgard. Tom Hiddleston should be commended for being to pull of such a vicious and evil villain while still being able to maintain the sympathetic side of the character seen in Thor.  This cast is terrific as each of these lead actors(save for Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner) have grown into their roles from the previous movies. Speaking  of Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, he pulls of the best Bruce Banner yet(sorry Edward Norton) with his intelligent wit, sarcastic sense of humor, and convincing  acceptance of his condition as the Hulk. Not one of these actors steals the whole show(although the Hulk comes close) as the movie doesn’t focus too much on any one character. This film easily could have become a Tony Stark parade, but luckily the other characters especially Captain America are really given some cool and impressive things to do as part of the team. Each of the characters bring their own dynamic, and the team would seem off without any one of them including Black Widow and Hawkeye. Kudos to Joss Whedon for being able to find near perfect balance for this heavyweight cast of characters.

While you certainly have to commend Marvel producer Kevin Feige for setting the Avengers up in the five build up films(Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America), the real credit for this film all goes to writer/director Joss Whedon. Whedon has been an icon in the nerd realms for years, but his moment to shine finally arrived as he pulled the film off in spades. Whedon is very experienced working with ensemble casts, and without him this near perfect balance found in the cast might have tipped the wrong way. It is extremely impressive that he was able to bring in more than five characters who have already developed their own stories over the course of five films and bring them together so that they could continue to develop both individually and as a team. There are very very few other film makers out there who could accomplish such a momentous task, and for this I give him a standing ovation. Aside from just the character balancing act, Whedon also manages to pace the story incredibly well while also inserting more than enough humor to keep the movie from taking itself too seriously. The movie is very funny, but is still able to remain a superhero drama first. The action set pieces in this movie are incredible as one moment you are on S.H.I.E.L.D’s flying fortress the helicarrier, and the next you are watching Avengers fight a momentous army in New York city. The movie manages to have plenty of action among all of the drama that is going on underneath. As I’ve already said several times; this film is a balancing act and Joss Whedon is the grand master artist behind all of it. Bravo sir, bravo.

Overall The Avengers proves to be everything the nerd and mainstream audiences wanted, and maybe became a little bit more. The cast and characters are excellent, the script is great if a bit basic, and the director is exceptional. This movie could have been a massive disappointment with all of the hype surrounding its release, but Marvel anticipated and then delivered. Is The Avengers the best Super Hero movie ever made? That is the trickier question. As far as purely entertaining blockbuster superhero movies go, I say without a doubt. The problem comes when you look at Super Hero movies like The Dark Knight or Watchmen that are going for something so much deeper than mere entertainment. Those films are generally more cinematic and far more complex than anything the Avengers could hope to pull off. I certainly think that The Avengers is the most entertaining superhero movie ever made by a pretty wide margin, but  the word “best” would be an unfair statement to those other films going for something different and in my opinion greater. I highly recommend The Avengers to anyone who seeks to be entertained, fanboys/comic book fans or not.

Story: 9.5

The story in The Avengers is actually pretty basic despite the fact that it brings stories from five other movies together in this epic Superhero team-up.  The army the team fights at the end is pretty generic and underdeveloped, but Loki plays a more than a worthy adversary to combat the team. The story does a terrific job at bringing these characters together for this film while still setting up for all of the movies that will follow this film.

Acting/Character: 10

The cast is perfect for this all star team-up as Robert Downey jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlette Johansson, Tom Hiddleston, and Clark Gregg all play their characters memorably. The movie does an excellent job at showing how this unlikely cast of characters bans together and grows as a team. The film also gives each of these characters their own story arcs for the film which will certainly carry over into each of the character-centric movies. The movie nails every character with one particular surprise being how much The Avengers nails the character the Hulk.

Direction: 10

Joss Whedon is what makes this movie work. Without him this movie would have been completely different and possibly unsuccessful as he had such a big part to play as both the writer and director. Whedon takes all of the characters and story arcs from the past films and brings them into this one movie without taking away from the success of any one of the characters. He also manages to give the movie a very appropriate sense of humor that certainly adds some extra spice to the already hot film. 

Overall Effectiveness of the Film: 10

The Avengers does everything audiences had hoped it would and might have actually done more. The movie is funny, exciting, full of  great characters, and an excellent new chapter in the Marvel produced films. The story is appropriately light and simple, the characters are masterfully written and portrayed, and the set pieces are nothing short of entertaining. The only real problem I have with The Avengers is that it doesn’t leave the viewer with much to chew on when it’s all said and done. It’s very entertaining and then it’s over, but I suppose the Avengers isn’t aiming to be anything more than exceptional entertainment. 

Overall Score: 10

*Make sure to stay for the entire credits. There are 2 scenes to see

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3 comments

  1. After watching the new Batman movie a couple of days ago, I still think that The Avengers is the better movie between the two. For the praises and fan love that TDKR is having, it’s too dark for me personally. I prefer the playfulness in The Avengers.

    • It’s definitely a preference thing. The Avengers is pretty much the peak of blockbuster style comic book movies, but The entire Dark Knight Trilogy is far deeper,darker, more complex and character driven than The Avengers or any movie Marvel has put out for that matter(with X2 and First Class being possible exceptions). I prefer the latter so from my perspective The Dark Knight Rises is hands down the better movie. I’ll also say that movies that have layers like Rises will bring me back to them far more than fairly shallow if entertaining movies do.

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