Finally, the movie we’ve been waiting for since Iron Man in 2008 is here. Four years in the making and millions of dollars later, Joss Whedon had his work cut out for him to make the superhero smash-up film, The Avengers. In a miraculous show of skilled screenwriting and fantastic direction, Whedon has pulled off the most amazing comic book movie to date. Marvel fans, prepare to die and go to heaven…or should I say, Asgard.
What makes The Avengers unique is that no other movie has attempted to do anything like it before. How does one take four established superheros from five separate movies and manage to morph them into one big, cohesive epic? With lots of care to continuity and planning, that’s how. Our story begins where Captain America left off: Cap has just recently been thawed out and made aware of the new time he’s living in, thanks to S.H.I.E.L.D., and before everything has a chance to sink in, Loki (Thor’s brother) has risen from the abyss to take over the Earth. Now he isn’t acting alone – once again Loki has sought the help of formidable alien allies who have their own agendas for helping Loki in his quest.
In his exile, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) came across an alien known as the Other, who gives Loki an army of Chitauri warriors in exchange for him finding and handing over the Tesseract (that shiny blue cube that has been bouncing around the last few Marvel movies). The opening scene sets the pace and tone of The Avengers, as Loki bursts through a portal into S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, steals the Tesseract, brainwashes Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) into being his followers, and destroys the base almost completely. Nick Fury (Samuel Jackson) reactivates the Avenger Initiative and begins recruiting the heroes he’s been keeping tabs on to join the mission to save Earth from Loki. Enter our heroes, The Hulk (Bruce Banner played by Mark Ruffalo) Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron Man a.k.a. Tony Stark (Robert Downy Jr.) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth). They are joined by Agent Natasha Romanoff, whom you may know as the Black Widow (Scarlette Johannson), and they embark on a seemingly hopeless journey to stop Loki’s army from destroying life on Earth as we know it.
Like any good team-based movie, the characters have their quarrels as personalities clash among them, they have a sort of falling out, then come together for the big finale. Though this formula has been applied countless times to action movies, Whedon manages to make this formula feel fresh. The clashing personalities have depth, since in all likelihood you have seen each character’s respective title movie, giving you a sense of where each is coming from. The exchanges between the characters are witty, and laced with enough humor to keep every family member entertained, and the proverbial “falling out” is more literal than it is metaphorical. Unlike most team-based movies, each member is larger than life. I was concerned about how well these huge fictional personalities would be able to work together in the same movie, let alone the same ‘universe’. Whedon is able to give each character the ability to shine on their own throughout The Avengers, but they shine the most when they are working as a team. Not one overshadows the rest.
When it comes to action, The Avengers has it in spades. The battles range from an infiltration on S.H.I.E.L.D.’s helicarrier, to the streets of New York, to a galactic portal in the sky. The hits look hard, the explosions are epic, and the fights incredible. The CGI is mixed well with the live action, producing smooth and believable scenes that are over the top in the best of ways. I actually saw this in IMAX 3D, and while it was quite impressive, there is enough going on that seeing The Avengers in 2D will suffice.
The Avengers benefits greatly from having a top-notch script. The story is thoughtful without being too deep. It pays attention to all the little things that the fans and the fanboys crave to see from their favorite characters. With a great script comes the need for great actors, and the cast is a perfect fit. Everyone did a fantastic job, knowing when to lay it on and when to lay off. Having a great cast is one of the most important aspects to having a great movie, and our Avengers don’t disappoint.
Whether you’re a Marvel fan or just a fan of movies for the whole family, The Avengers will knock your socks off. This is the best comic-book movie that has been made to date, setting the bar exceptionally high for future additions to the genre. Some may call it a “popcorn” movie, but I’d be surprised if you remembered that you had it sitting in your lap after the opening scene. The Avengers is the must see movie of 2012, and the best way to open up a summer full of movies. Oh, and stay during the credits for a surprise about what may come!
I give The Avengers 5 “Reindeer Games” out of 5.
by Rachael Edwards-Hite