"The Avengers" assemble for a flick that exceeds expectations
This is it. The pinnacle. The zenith. An all-star game of epic proportions that will undoubtedly meet the expectations of every fanboy alive, if not go beyond them. “The Avengers” is the grand sum of multiple Marvel superhero movies over recent years, uniting the icons Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). Forget the strangeness of all these individuals existing in the same reality. Forget all preconceptions of your average superhero flick. Just enjoy the show. You won’t be able to help yourself.
Film appeals to both casual and hardcore fans
I’ll begin by saying that “The Avengers” is the best comic book film I’ve ever seen. Its entertainment factor is its strongest and most consistent attribute. Writer and director Joss Whedon has proven himself as the savviest nerd to ever tackle the Hollywood superhero genre. His fame comes from his creation of the TV series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Firefly.” His most prominent commercial feature has been “Serenity,” the film culmination of “Firefly.” He was a cult hero, a fanboy’s deity. Now, with “The Avengers” receiving nothing but praise and already breaking box office records, Whedon has landed himself on the mainstream map. “Who directed that?” multiple people asked emphatically as we all left the IMAX Theater at 2:30 a.m. opening night. Those who didn’t know him before will certainly know him now, courtesy of IMDb.
A midnight showing of a movie is when an audience is at its most honest. It wasn’t as if the theater was jam-packed with only costume-clad fanatics. I came in jeans and a T-shirt with several friends dressed the same. I do not consider myself a fanboy, simply an avid fan of quality moviemaking. Little did I know that 20 minutes into the movie, we would all be whooping, laughing and cheering just as much as the guys dressed as Thor and the Hulk. It may have been the most exhilarating theater experience I’ve ever had, not on an emotional level but in terms of pure, adrenaline-fueled entertainment. The set pieces of “Avengers” were incredible, and the action was so flawlessly choreographed I could’ve watched the fighting sequences for hours.
Whedon creates likable and unique superheroes
The film begins with an ominous, alien drawl prophesying the inevitable takeover of earth and extinction of mankind. Cut to the home base of S.H.I.E.L.D., the homeland security organization headed by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) that seems to deal more with supernatural forces than anti-Western terrorism. Deep beneath the base is the tesseract, a small cube of infinite energy that opens a door to earth from the other side of the universe. Through it comes Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Thor’s adopted brother of the heavenly realm Asgard who dreams of nothing but war and godship over humans. He steals the tesseract and levels S.H.I.E.L.D.’s base — leaving Fury in a bind that leads him to one conclusion: “It’s time.” Time for what? Time for the Avengers.
With the help of Black Widow and Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg), Fury brings together the ultimate dream team in an attempt to capture Loki and take back the tesseract, which he plans on using to transport an army of reptilian soldiers from across the galaxy. Of course, the unification of the supers is not so easily solidified. Bruce Banner’s aversion to his mindless Hulk-side is a significant point of tension among them. A lesser version of this movie would have based the Avengers’ dysfunction off of lame stereotypes and formulaic prejudices. Whedon cleverly bases it off the heroes’ own insecurities and uncertainties, making them more human and more likable. Too many superhero films either overly humanize the protagonists so that their fantastical powers are diminished in comparison, or they are so underdeveloped that their abilities are simply a means to empty CGI. In “Avengers,” each hero is unique and contributes in equally awesome ways.
Cast shines in individual roles
Downey Jr. is, as always, unrivaled as the charismatic Tony Stark, and Iron Man is probably the most exhilarating Avenger to watch in action. Hiddleston is particularly excellent as Loki, whose balance of villainous acumen and savage malice makes him a memorable bad guy. And the dubious, lovely Johansson is every fanboy’s dream girl as Black Widow; her performance suggests that she knows this all too well. The acting, overall, was nothing but fitting for the temperament of each character, adding to the pulse of this comic book movie that knows exactly what it can do and does it without looking back.
For the life of me, I can’t think of anything I did not like about “The Avengers.” Every film should be judged and critiqued by what it is and how well it knows it. A drama must captivate the human heart. A horror film should startle and disturb. A comedy, surprisingly one of the most difficult genres to do right, should have its audience in consistent jubilation. An action movie, and what’s more a superhero action movie, must give its viewers the ride of their lives, whether by nostalgia or pure presentation. “Avengers” does both.