Perhaps it's become a cliche of its own, but I feel it's proper to state my point of view when going into The Avengers. I'm a person who loves comics, hasn't read a ton of comics involving the Avengers themselves, and have not been hugely into comic book movies, which I generally find to be over-loaded with CGI and otherwise repetitive. I didn't watch the Hulk movies all the way through, nor did I watch Iron Man 2, Captain America or Thor. I know the backstories of the characters, but have little interest in their individual movies. For the record, I haven't read the Ultimate comics to know how much the various versions of Nick Fury differ from one another, either.
Joss Whedon took into account that not every person who watches this
movie will have watched the four or five prequels that aren't available
on Netflix instant. As long as you have some understanding of these
characters, either through comics, cartoons, movies, what have you, you
have enough background information to go into this film. If not, you at
least learn that Thor and Loki are brothers from Asgard and considered
gods, that Bruce Banner was a genius scientist who became an immortal
smashing machine in an accident, that Captain America is from the past
and took a serum to gain his powers, and that Tony Stark is... well, how
much do you need in order to know Tony Stark is Tony Stark?
for the new entries, [Ultimate] Nick Fury is Samuel L Jackson, rated
PG-13 (a little harsher than Mace Windu, a little nicer than Jules
Winnfield), Black Widow (referred to only once by her code name and
otherwise as Natalia Romanova) gets the most development of anyone else
in the movie (by a slight margin). Hawkeye, by virtue of his role, gets
virtually nothing, being little more than a cameo for the climax and a
sympathetic face to attach to a possessed minion. If it seems like I'm
spoiling the film, don't worry; anything that I've mentioned so far is
established pretty early on, or else is repeated information from the
Now that the infodump is out of the way, let's get to
the opinions, shall we? Robert Downey Jr plays his version of Tony
Stark just as well as he does in Iron Man. He plays his
character consistently and he's actually written a little more likable
here, having settled into monogamy and only having one alcoholic drink
during the movie. Chris Hemsworth's Thor is exactly what I would expect
from the character. I've heard Captain America referred to as the weak
link here, and I have to agree. While the other actors draw into mind
the storied histories of their characters, everything "Steve Rogers"
about this character comes from the writing, rather than the acting, in
which Chris Evans delivers the lines passably but is unremarkable.
anybody who watched the prequels knew how these guys were going to do,
right? The characters are the same; they're all on the second or third
film in their contract. No, it's Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner that
everybody wants to talk about. I was surprised by this, despite having
heard a bit about how Ruffalo's performance went. No, what surprised me
was that the Hulk wasn't recruited to the Avengers in the beginning of
the movie- it was Banner. He was recruited as a scientist; for the
mandatory Joss Whedon reference, this makes him to the Simon to our
merry crew. If Simon had the temperament of Jayne Cobb, that is.
gives Ruffalo a lot more to do than simply smashing his way through the
set, or even moping around in fear of the Hulk would give him. Some of
the most awesome nerdgasm moments are when Banner and Stark are
discussing physics that no one else in the room is even close to
comprehending. Banner is a carefully controlled bottle of rage, ready
to blow his top the minute he gets shaken up, something that I've been
told is a forte of Mark Ruffalo.
This is the exemplary
superhero movie. There are too many characters to bog us down on one
plot for to long, but there also aren't enough for us to get lost,
either. You grow to love every character, or at least respect for them
and root for them. There's a ton of action, but it's well broken up,
and every character serves their particular niche in the way that works
best for them. There's drama about the characters' past and future, but
it's handled quickly and isn't distracting.
This sounds like the
ideal ADD movie, and in a way, it is. Still, I don't think that takes
anything away from the film, especially seeing as how it's much less
brightly colored and explodey than it could have been. There are subtle
references to the comics and even a nod to the importance of downtime.
I wasn't all that excited about this movie before watching it, but The Avengers stands up there with some of my favorite comic book movies of all time.
large part of this contrast is the way that many comic book movies get
heavily bogged down in origin stories. I'm not saying that origin
stories don't need to be told and that people shouldn't be aware of
them. At the same time, if you follow new releases films, comics, and
television shows, there's a good chance you're watching Peter Parker get
bitten by a Spider and Bruce Banner get lit up by Gamma Radiation close
to once a year. In the end, no matter who the hero is, most superhero
movies consist of an extra chance to watch the same origin story.
Again. And again.
Avengers? Doesn't have that. Okay,
yes, it has the brief, exposited origin story of a hero I knew
absolutely nothing about. That's mixed in with the stories of Iron Man,
Hawkeye, Thor, Hulk, Captain America and Loki, none of whom we spend
thirty minutes to relearn the backstories of. This makes The Avengers one of the rare superhero movies that actually focuses on the superheroing, and it is awesome.
Bill Silvia is a regular contributor at Fantasy & SciFi Lovin' News & Reviews. You can find more of his content at MiBreviews.