If you really think about the premise of Marvel’s “The Avengers,” it’s a movie that just shouldn’t work. You’ve got a robot-armored smartass, a sincere super soldier from the 1940s, a hammer-wielding Norse demigod and that one guy who turns into a green leviathan when he gets too angry, all brought together under the command of the ever-campy Samuel L. Jackson to fight an alien army.
These characters, their stories, those massive egos could only work, without turning into a mindless CGI soap opera, with some careful … umm … assembly.
Fortunately, that is where this movie finds its greatest strength. Director Joss Whedon skillfully manages to balance not only all of the characters in the film, but all the right elements that should be in a superhero blockbuster.
The result is the perfect payoff, a brilliant start to the summer movie season and arguably one of the best comic book movies of all time.
First off, I just want to say that you need to see this movie in IMAX; it’s the way this type of movie needs to be seen. Many told me that the $17-plus cost for a single ticket was highway robbery, but seeing a 40-foot tall Iron Man dodge explosives left and right and hearing the ear-piercing roars of the Hulk made it worth every penny.
Also, if you can, see it with people who appreciate this kind of movie.
A film can be great on its own, but an appreciative audience is the perfect compliment. When everyone around you is cheering and applauding during the movie, it’s hard not to get chills.
When I saw the film at the Regal Pinnacle’s midnight premiere, the theater played host to costumed nerds galore. Some went all out, with homemade costumes of each hero to form their own teams of Avengers; others were content with t-shirts or cheap toy accessories.
Costumed movie-goers are always great because, not only do they make for great photo ops, but they represent a strong fan base. The movie boasts one cheer-worthy moment after another, so it’s easy to get caught in the moment.
With such an explosive movie, why not?
As soon as the movie starts, it blasts into action, and realistically there’s no time to stall. When Loki, the vengeful god of mischief, steals a source of unlimited energy which he intends to use to summon a near-unstoppable alien army, S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) has no choice but to call upon the most powerful arsenal he has: Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and the big guy himself, the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo).
Tacking on the best marksman in the world, Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), and the deadliest woman you’ve ever seen in a skintight suit, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), they’re a potent mix.
Amazingly, each hero gets a fair amount of action and screen time.
Iron Man is usually a natural spotlight magnet, but the writers seemed careful to ensure that we got ample doses of the hokey Captain America and fantastical Thor.
Even the human characters, lacking in any superpowers, got healthy amounts of exposure, making for a nicely rounded team dynamic.
We don’t get a main character, and that’s the best thing about it. It’s “The Avengers,” not “Iron Man and Friends.”
Now, in a perfect world, a simple speech may be a motivator for these heroes to come together and save the day. This isn’t a perfect world, though, and none of these heroes want to give up the reigns. As a result, the second act of the film is about overcoming differences and fully embracing the idea of a superhero team.
It isn’t a Kumbaya, peace-pipe session, though; these guys literally beat the hell out of one another.
Thor vs. Iron Man, Hulk vs. Thor, Black Widow vs. Hawkeye—these scenes aren’t just visually explosive; they’re essential to making the story work.
This isn’t a movie about who can kill the most alien warriors; it’s a film about bringing together a group of strangers for the greater good, and that process is riddled with struggle and strife.
Times get dark and desperate, but if it weren’t for the rough patches, how could we appreciate the reunion?
A superhero blockbuster needs to be a mixed bag of theatrical elements, or it’s going to flop. Too much comedy is going to result in a goofball laugh-fest that eventually won’t be taken seriously; too much CGI action, and you’ll get mindless fluff that will have everyone reaching for aspirin.
Luckily, “The Avengers” is almost flawlessly executed.
Our heroes are powerful, but they’re also hilarious, and if you catch a primetime showing, the theater will roar with laughter again and again.
There are times when the CGI effects are just a tad over the top, and the lines can get a bit too campy. But that’s alright—it comes with the genre.
Whedon counters with a seriously majestic showdown. The final act proves to be mind-boggling action, as horde after horde of robotic alien warriors pour from the sky, and it’s peppered with cheer-worthy one-liners that make for one of best climaxes of all time.
In the end, “The Avengers” is everything it needs to be: a well-shaken cocktail of action and humor that gives the appropriate payoff to some of the most beloved of comic book characters. After four years of build-up, the collective efforts have certainly paid off.
Oh, and be sure to stick around after the credits for not one, but two hidden scenes.
It’s safe to say that at some point, likely sooner rather than later, our heroes will, once again, assemble.