While I've generally liked all of the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it wasn’t until we were hit with a double dose of Marvel movies last year that I really got excited for an Avengers movie. I’d seen both Hulk movies and they were okay. Nothing to get excited about it. The first IRON MAN was great up until the final act and IRON MAN 2 felt like it was trying too hard. But when I saw the majesty and awesomeness of THOR and the earnest heroics of CAPTAIN AMERICA (who quickly became my favorite Avenger) last summer, I couldn’t wait to see what it would be like to have all these strong, dynamic characters come together and defend our world.
These are people and demi-gods with such big personas and egos that they could barely fit inside a single movie, let alone a film with six other similar personalities. One of them would have to stand out among the rest. After all, they’re not used to working in teams. But never fear, for Joss Whedon has created a movie that masterfully juggles multiple strong characters, allowing each Avenger to have their moment in the spotlight, including those we haven’t really seen before, while also telling an exciting team adventure.
For this Marvel outing, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has stolen the Tesseract, a super powerful energy cube, and plans to use it, along with an alien army, to take over Earth and enslave humanity. If he can’t rule Asgard then by Odin’s beard he’s going to rule Earth. With S.H.I.E.L.D. unable to defend against Loki on their own, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) enacts the Avengers Initiative to bring together a team of extraordinary individuals including Bruce Banner/The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), and Thor (Chris Hemsworth), along with S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg), Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) to defend the planet and defeat Loki.
It’s best to have seen the past movies before seeing MARVEL’S THE AVENGERS so you have a more established understanding of each character and their history. However Joss Whedon has crafted a film that works both as a sequel and a standalone picture. All the characters are given their (re)introductions but once the pleasantries are done with, it’s onto the story at hand. Each character continues to grow as they are given their own arc within the film. At the same time characters who were on the sidelines in past Marvel movies, like Agent Coulson, Black Widow and Hawkeye (if you count his minor cameo in THOR) are given beefier roles and become just as important as the big four. I was particularly taken by Black Widow because she proved to be one badass bitch. We got a tiny glimpse of her ass kicking in IRON MAN 2 but here you really get to see what a smart, beautiful and deadly woman she is and she’s given a vital role in the mission.
With so many big personalities they are bound to clash and that was the aspect I enjoyed most about the film. Seeing them in action and working together is great and all but it’s that initial adjustment and tension that exists amongst the group that was so interesting. These are people with a common goal yet they’re not used to dealing with such strong personalities or people of equal strength and power. They’re used to being the star player and it’s during these tense moments when they’re arguing and going up against each other’s egos that the actors really do their best work. As they bicker with similar minded characters they begin to recognize their flaws and in turn grow as individuals, adding another dimension to their characters. Captain America and Iron Man are the cattiest of the bunch and even though they’re constantly fighting they end up growing the most by the end of the film.
Once everyone gets over their egos and is onboard to work together, it is non-stop action and excitement. There are some great action sequences on the Helicarrier, which is the lovechild of a plane and a naval assault ship, and the entire final act is outstanding as the group duke it out with Loki and his army in the city.
Even though Whedon gives every character their moment in the spotlight, there is no denying that the standout member of the group is Bruce Banner, especially his transformation into the Hulk. Mark Ruffalo does a great job at playing Banner as a very calm person who hardly gets rattled but man, when he finally lets the Hulk come out, he is a BEAST!! Whedon’s version of Hulk is so much more powerful and destructive than past incarnations but he is also more likeable because of Ruffalo’s characterization of Banner. He’s not so much a character you pity because of his affliction but someone you just want to see go apeshit because if he’s that calm on the outside then he must me fucking LIVID inside and you’ve just got to see that other side.
As with the past two Marvel films, the 3D isn’t necessary. It’s only ever really noticeable in the beginning of the film and the last act. Everything in between doesn’t benefit from the 3D conversion and while the ending is spectacular, watching it in 3D doesn’t really improve it. Definitely save your money and see it in 2D.
Prior to MARVEL’S THE AVENGERS, CAPTAIN AMERICA was my favorite movie of the bunch, mainly because I believed in the hero so much. But now I’ve got to say THE AVENGERS just might be my favorite Marvel movie yet. It showed the best of each character, making me love them all even more, and was filled with plenty of great action sequences. I was cheering in my seat, laughing at their bickering, gripping the armrest in excitement and had a great movie going experience. I came out of that movie on a superhero high and there is no doubt in my mind we’ll get to see plenty more adventures with the Avengers after this fantastic outing.