50 years ago, “The Avengers” appeared on radar screens of comic book fans across the country. The funny thing is there hasn’t been a single film made about them … until now.
MARVEL’S THE AVENGERS
MARVEL STUDIOS presents in association with PARAMOUNT PICTURES
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, with Stellan Skarsgård and Samuel L. Jackson
Director: Joss Whedon
Producer: Kevin Feige
Marvel Studios presents “Marvel’s The Avengers” — the Super Hero team up of a lifetime, featuring iconic Marvel Super Heroes Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow. When an unexpected enemy emerges that threatens global safety and security, Nick Fury, Director of the international peacekeeping agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D., finds himself in need of a team to pull the world back from the brink of disaster. Spanning the globe, a daring recruitment effort begins.
Starring RobertDowney Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson,Jeremy Renner and Tom Hiddleston, with Stellan Skarsgård and Samuel L. Jackson, and written and directed by Joss Whedon, from a story by Zak Penn and Joss Whedon, “Marvel’s The Avengers” is based on the ever-popular Marvel comic book series “The Avengers,” first published I n 1963 and a comics institution ever since. Prepare yourself for an exciting event movie, packed with action and spectacular special effects.
With Joss Whedon (“Serenity,” “The Cabin in the Woods” ) and Zak Penn (“Incident at Loch Ness,” “The Grand,” “X-Men: The Last Stand”) at the helm of the film’s production, it finally makes its way to the big screen with explosive results. However, critics haven’t given Whedon – who is best known as the creator and showrunner of the TV series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel,” “Firefly,” and “Dollhouse” — much credit for his work in the past, I certainly hope with “The Avengers” they open their eyes now. What Whedon (as screenplay writer and director) has given fans of “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” is a true super hero blockbuster.
Being a fan of both Whedon’s work and “The Avengers” comics, I was really impressive with how Whedon and Penn (who co-wrote the story together) were able to craft thoughtful, humorous dialogue between the characters and melding their worlds (a.k.a. the characters’ other feature films) together seamlessly. Whedon makes a spirited effort to fuse his own sense of humor and style, with a genre that has been riddled with re-trended atmospherics.
“The Avengers’” plot is derived from the story found in 2011′s “Captain America: The First Avenger,” which involves an object called the “Tesseract.” This glowing cube of mystical powers falls into the hands of the Asgardian Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Thor’s evil little brother, and his diabolical plan is to use it to wipe out Earth [Where have I heard that story before? True this omnipresent plot is all too familiar, yet it sounds frightening and is constructed well enough for the team to suit up to take action]. In steps Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), director of the peacekeeping organization S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division), with a mission to coral the elite crew (Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, and Thor) and, of course, to stop Loki.
The Marvel film’s focus doesn’t fall squarely on the villain and his evil deeds per se, Whedon and Penn manage to establish a power struggle within the super circle. This approach lets us know that even beings with superhuman abilities have issues. They shed a spotlight on the characters’ egos, flaws and heroic attributes, which definitely causes tension among the group. The interaction feels natural between the characters and propels the film onward. Right away you notice Whedon’s’ and Penn’s love of the classic comics. They inject the same kind of energy onto the screen as you’d find on the pages. They also find the right balance of action to humor and giving our heroes more prominent parts, while keeping things light and comical.
An especially hilarious scene involves the Hulk, when he is given the order by the Captain to “SMASH” … and he does just that. When the green gargantuan catches up to Loki, he literally slings him around like a rag doll. It’s a scene ripped from the cartoons. My only qualm with the film is that it would have been nice to see our heroes outwit their opponents for a change. It seems that there is a constant battle going on at every moment. But I like the fact that the film doesn’t take itself too seriously unlike “X-Men.”
The eye popping effects consisted of gigantic slithering mechanical snakes, with lizard-like humanoid soldiers flanking them. All of which look threatening as any as they do battle with the super six in the streets of Manhattan. Another cool effect is Fury traveling around in a flying, submersible fortress, that’s about as big as several city blocks.
As I mentioned above, Whedon presents the characters with vigor, giving them new life. We’ve known Tony Stark to be a narcissistic/egotist, yet he’s always maintained a sense of charm about him. Robert Downey Jr. certainly embodies Stark, yet he delivers more of the same performance, if slightly sharper.
I have to highlight two characters out of the bunch: The Hulk/Dr. Bruce Banner and Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (played by Mark Ruffalo and Scarlett Johannson, respectively). In comparison to the first two films made about the green creature, The Hulk is far more frightening here as the monstrous beast. When Dr. Banner does finally unleash his alter ego, his growl is guttural and primal. Along with strength that rivals both Captain America and Thor, his temper is explosive. Played by two different actors (Eric Bana and Edward Norton Jr.) in previous big screen “Hulk” films, Ruffalo does add a different dimension of calmness to the character. In another telltale sign of Whedon’s style by putting female characters on the forefront, Black Widow — who was introduced in “Iron Man 2″ — is not only the catalyst for rounding up the band of good guys, she’s much more acrobatic, feistier, and intelligent [writer's note: Johannson is just plain hot in the film].
Chris Hemsworth as Thor has the feel of a Norse God, but he speaks in prose and fights like a WWE wrestler, while wielding a powerful hammer. Although I haven’t yet seen “Thor” the movie, I can only assume Hemsworth is best suited here than his own movie. Meanwhile, I liked that Chris Evans, who once again dons the suit of stars and stripes, gets a strong leadership role here amongst the superheroes. His Captain America character takes charge with wisdom and courage.
Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) is a character introduced in “The Avengers,” and he has yet to show his stripes. Though I felt he’s under utilized, I figure he’ll get more face time in the sequel because he’s certainly an integral member of the team and shouldn’t be overlooked. As the evil Loki, Hiddleston feels like a spoiled brat, as he throws his power around like a child throwing a tantrum. Hiddleston is the right man for the job and plays him to the hilt.
Jackson (reprising his role as Fury from the two “Iron Man” films and “Captain America”) brings a cynical, backhanded sarcasm to Fury, which makes for understated comical moments. He’s both funny, yet somewhat mysterious. Another integral members of S.H.E.I.L.D. would have to be Agents Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg, “The New Adventures of Old Christine”) and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders, “How I Met Your Mother”) Gregg – who appeared in “Iron Man,” “Iron Man 2,”and “Thor” – is understated yet no less effective, adding humor to his character this time around. Smulders gets a chance to show a little action in the beginning of the film, whereas TV viewers of the current CBS comedy have only seen her comedic side. As Hill, she is a good, loyal sidekick to Fury, where she helps command the action and the bridge of Fury’s ship. And finally, I don’t know what it is about Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts, but she’s very likable and very attractive here in “The Avengers” and, in some way, she feels just as super as the heroes around her.
What surprised me most of all was this was screened in 3D, something I didn’t expect. Although I hear a few complaints about this visual effect, I feel it adds a subtle depth to the sets and cityscapes. To me, it only makes the experience a bit more enjoyable.
Aside from “The X-Men, “The Avengers” is a dream team of heroes, which deserve recognition. The film does them justice, and I can’t wait for the sequel. Oh, and make sure you stay in your seat to the very end for a little sneak into the next chapter.