We all have been watching these Marvel films, starting with Iron Man back in 2008, and waiting for the chance to see the Avengers together on the screen ever since Nick Fury broke in to Tony Stark’s house and spoke of the Avengers Initiative. Well, after a subsequent Iron Man sequel and films for The Hulk, Thor, and Captain America we now have everyone thrown into one big, epic, action packed film and the end result is superb.
The film retroactively makes all of the previous Marvel films better as all of their little nudges and winks finally pay off and we are able to just dive into the action as we already know all the players. Bringing back Loki is a great choice as he is both super human and the best foil introduced in any of the previous films.
Tom Hiddleston is just as good, or better, in the part he already excelled in for Thor and the enemy presence of the film is built rather organically and in an inventive way. It would have been nice to have a bit more depth or explanation of the alien army at Loki’s side, but I will take the excellent pacing over getting in to something that isn’t terribly important.
The only new face, outside his uncredited cameo in Thor, is Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye and the character is handled wonderfully. The duality of the role was both a surprise and exciting which created some intriguing stakes I don’t think you are going to see coming. Renner continues to be on a hot streak since his breakout in The Hurt Locker, and between this, MI:4 and the upcoming Bourne film, he is a worthy action star of today. You’ll be spooling up arrows out of air as you exit the theater and the character is full of fun surprises in his weaponry.
I guess there is another new face, even if it is a familiar character, and that is Mark Ruffalo who steps in as our fresh Bruce Banner. The Hulk is a beast in the film and will most certainly be in the running for some of the “Scenes of the Year” when the year is out. Ruffalo brings a nervous energy to Banner that keeps the character fresh and the best doses of humor yet for the character. The Hulk steals almost every moment he is in and I imagine everyone will be talking about him for the rest of the summer.
Nobody stands out from the pack here and I couldn’t be happier to report that. The movie is so perfectly balanced between the many friendly faces that we are never left wanting to get back to someone nor stay with anyone even a bit too long; everything is just right. Downey’s Iron Man, Hemsworth’s Thor, and Evans Capt. America all get their moments to shine and all of them deliver top notch work. It’s not just the big three that get their moments to shine, Black Widow and Fury are given their equal share as well and Johansson and Jackson make the absolute most of their expanded roles. Johansson in particular makes the most of her expanded role and is great in her big moments both on the battlefield and in the war room. Cobie Smulders is also quite good as a new face out of SHIELD and is a welcome addition to the Marvel universe. Skarsgård, Paltrow, and Gregg are also as good as we expect them to be, with Whedon making excellent use of Gregg’s Agent Phil Coulson as a glue of sorts for the film.
Speaking of Whedon, let’s get to the guts of the film that he both wrote and directed. The film is written wonderfully and is full of fantastic humor from nearly start to finish. It’s not just Stark who gets to shine, everyone gets a bit of humor thrown in for them and all of it fits wonderfully for the character. The plot unfolds with ease and there a couple of great war of words among individuals and as a group. Right at the end of the first half of the film, and when all hell breaks loose, there is a brilliant scene that everyone is sizing each other up and posturing for one another and the script cuts to the core of everyone one of these characters. It is a wonderful scene and one worth returning to the theater alone for.
Luckily there is even more than just the fantastic writing to go back for as the film is both gorgeous and flawless in the effects department. The action is remarkable with every action scene topping just about every action beat in any of the Marvel films before it. And the finale, oh boy, it’s epic, long, and perfectly coherent with everyone getting at least a few moments to shine. The effects work is also as great as one could hope for as it should be seeing that ILM, WETA, and Digital Domain were the three leads on the effects work; not too shabby. The 3D is also worthwhile if you are a fan of the format as it looks crystal clear and really does open a window into the world; especially during the battle of New York City.
I could go on and on singing the praises of The Avengers, but I don’t think that is terribly necessary as many of you are already in line to see this over the weekend. If you aren’t in line I recommend you do so now, they are going to be long, as this is going to be the movie to beat this summer and I don’t know if anything is going to be able to top it; yes, even The Dark Knight Rises. The Avengers is an all-timer for the super hero genre (right up there with Watchmen, The Dark Knight, X2, and Sin City) and it is also bound to be in the running for best film of the year.
The Avengers is an A