Starting with the movie Iron Man back in 2008, it’s been 4 long years but the wait is finally over. The Avengers are here and they are kicking some serious ass. I literally got back from watching the movie about an hour ago. So let’s get the review going before I watch too many interviews and other garbage and forget to write this. Now, this review will be riddled with spoilers. So, IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE YET, WATCH IT BEFORE YOU READ THIS! SERIOUSLY? WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? GO, NOW!
This movie’s plot stems directly from the events that occurred at the end of the Thor and Captain America movies that released in 2011. S.H.I.E.L.D have been busy studying the Tesseract (known by most as the Cosmic Cube) to figure out how to harness its power. The cube starts to react and Nick Fury (played by Samuel L. Jackson) rushes to the HQ to find out what went wrong and to evacuate the facility. The cube opens a portal and out comes Loki ( played by Tom Hiddleston) who retrieves the cube and uses a staff given to him by the Others to control the minds of a few agents, including Clint Barton/Hawkeye (played by Jeremy Renner). Fury and Black Widow (played by Scarlett Johansson) set out to recruit the rest of the team: Captain America (played by Chris Evans), Iron Man (played by Robert Downey Jr.) and Bruce Banner/Hulk (played by Mark Ruffalo).
Thor (played by Chris Hemsworth) shows up from Asgard to capture and return Loki to back to their world to pay for his treachery. After some â€œconvincingâ€, Thor agrees to lock him up in a S.H.I.E.L.D facility while they figure out where the cube is and what it’s being used for. Through some hacking and snooping around by Stark and Rogers, the team finds out that S.H.I.E.L.D hasn’t been as upfront as they believed, and that they were really using the cube to develop weaponry to fend off against extra-terrestrial enemies. This along with Loki’s situation leads to the team arguing over who’s to blame for what has transpired.
Meanwhile, Barton and the rest of Loki’s men infiltrate the Helicarrier and disable the engines, inadvertently causing Banner to turn into the Hulk. This was a plus to Loki’s plan to damage the team. While Rogers and Stark try to repair the engines, Thor fends off the Hulk while Romanoff (Black Widow) fights Barton and frees him from the mental hold Loki had on him. With the team split apart, Loki engages his plan to use the cube to open a portal for the army of Chitauri to invade the Earth.
After the dust settles, Fury uses the death of Agent Coulson, who was killed by Loki during his escape, to motivate the team to band together and take down Loki and the Chitauri. The Avengers assemble in the heart of New York City and fend off the invasion from the inside out. What ensues is probably one of the best action scenes in recent superhero movie history. Rogers takes command of the Avengers and gives out the orders for each member to strategically push back the alien forces. Romanoff positions herself at the device holding the cube and uses Loki’s staff to try and close the portal. But, Stark is informed that a nuclear weapon has been authorized to be launched and is headed for NYC. In a flash of selflessness, Stark intercepts the weapon and flies it through the portal launching it into the heart of the Chitauri main ship. This knocks Stark back through the portal into the â€œsafeâ€ hands of the Hulk. With the Chitauri forces deactivated and the portal closed, the Avengers initiative is a success and the world is once again safe. The members go their separate ways, ready for when the next call to assemble arises.
I have to say, going into the movie theater, I was highly skeptical of how this movie would turn out. It wasn’t hard to be excited about the concept of an Avengers movie from the outset. And, with each passing year and each passing movie, the anticipation grew to unreachable heights. But, as is usually the case, reality started to set in with each passing month leading up to the official release. Rumors were later confirmed that a good chunk of the movie would be left on the cutting room table, many of it focused on Captain America. The initial approach that director Joss Whedon had to this movie was that it would be from the Cap’s perspective, seeing him acclimate himself to his new surroundings as well as this random group of heroes. Knowing this and how much of it was cut, I was seriously afraid that this would become a Tony Stark movie also starring the other Avengers. And, it could have easily become the case. But, fortunately, the story was well-written enough that Rogers still had a significant portion of the movie and Stark didn’t overtake as much as fans believed he would seeing as he’s the most popular Avenger now.
The balance between each character as far as story lines and screen time went was surprisingly well done. As soon as you felt that one or two characters were receiving a bit more of the focus than you’d like, it would switch to other characters and fill you in on what’s going on with them. This all culminated into great interactions between everyone and interesting quarrels and team-ups. The egotistical Tony Stark squaring off ideals against the honest soldier Steve Rogers seemed just as appealing and engaging as the bouts between Thor and the Hulk or the conversations between Romanoff and Barton. And they switched up enough so that nothing to stale too quickly. It all seemed to boil up into a fierce argument between all of the members of the Avengers and though it seemed hectic, you never felt lost and could follow the logic of every single member. This type of character confrontation and growth is a staple in many of Joss Whedon’s work and it proved once again how talented of a writer he really is. This also showed how well the actors worked together wherein that no one actor to the spotlight and it actually felt like an ensemble project.
The cast of The Avengers definitely brought their A-game to this project. From Robert Downey Jr. to Scarlett Johansson, to Samuel Jackson and Cobie Smulders, everyone acted their part exceptionally well and help me to get completely lost in the narrative. Downey Jr. was his usually charismatic and witty self as Stark, while Evans played the straight and narrow Rogers. Hemsworth still felt larger-than-life as Thor and Hiddleston still made you want to punch the smirk right off of his face. We didn’t get to see much of Renner and Johansson in Thor or Iron Man 2, respectively, so seeing their characters get fleshed out a lot more in this movie showed that they could carry the weight of their roles very well. But, I think the stand out performance of this movie has got to be Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner. In every scene he’s in, you can tell that Banner is always at the tipping point, holding back the monster with every breath he takes. It shows in his performance in both the most subtle of ways as well as the most apparent. Sometimes you’ll see him walk around nervously, not knowing where he feels comfortable standing while wringing his hands together. And at other times, he’ll burst into a rage without warning, frightening every person in the room to their every core. His portrayal of the raging scientist was highly anticipated seeing as people loved the performance of Edward Norton in the same role back the 2008 remake. But after this movie, I don’t think that anyone has any doubt in their mind that Ruffalo was the right choice to play Banner and wouldn’t mind seeing him in another Avengers or Hulk movie in the future.
The way these characters are set up in the movie leads to some very interesting moments throughout the film. For example, Stark is endlessly fascinated with Bruce Banner, not only because of his vast intellect, but also because of the Hulk. So when he’s not prodding Banner’s brain for highly scientific conversation, he’s literally prodding him with needles to see if he’ll change into the Hulk. Or the moment after the Hulk and Thor team up to defeat a group of Chitauri, the Hulk clocks Thor in the jaw out of nowhere, sending him flying off-screen as payback for fighting him when he first changed in the Helicarrier. Moments like these where the characters show diversity in their demeanor outside of their public superhero persona is what really brings these heroes to life in a way not seen too often.
Speaking of moments, HOLY CRAP! Did you see those action scenes? They were pretty awesome to watch. Another thing I was afraid of (damn, why didn’t I just stay home if I was this afraid?) was that the action scenes wouldn’t be up to snuff seeing as you’d have to share screen time with at least 7 different people. Thankfully, everyone got their due diligence and had a nice money shot to top it all off. I particularly liked any scene with Barton/Hawkeye in it seeing as not only were his scenes just badass, I like the concept of an expert marksmen on the battlefield. From his no-look bulls-eye of an enemy behind him to being able to shoot a target from far out, using the wind to carry the arrow around a bend, it never got tiring seeing him line up a shot. Oh, and his arsenal, freaking amazing how they showed the mechanics of it. I always wondered how he would switch arrowheads on the fly. They completely show all that in quick shots and it all made sense. That was expertly pulled off.
Another person to watch out for was of course, the Hulk. As soon as Cap gave the order to â€œSmashâ€, Hulk went ballistic on anything that wasn’t a civilian or fellow Avenger. Just seeing him rampage through the city, knocking out fools left and right, generally causing more havoc than good but still getting the job done, never got stale. The only gripe I had with his scenes was that they never really explained why he was in more control in the last act of the movie than when he first changed in the Helicarrier. I’m not as familiar with the Hulk as with the others, so I’m not sure if it has to do with the situation in which he awakens his inner power. Seeing as when he lost control, he was angered in an impromptu manner but when he was in control, he let his anger go willingly, I’m guessing it that this is the case. Either way, his scenes were easily some of the best in the movie. The other characters followed suit as to how they were in their respective movies. Black Widow definitely held her own and was not left out in the action whatsoever. She kicked serious ass and seemed more resourceful and lethal than in Iron Man 2. Joss enjoys writing strong and confident female characters so Romanoff didn’t seem out of place at all, which is the best way to go about the character seeing as compared to a thunder god and a huge green monster, she along with Hawkeye are easily among the weaker members of the group. I’m glad that they were able to prove their worth and show why they belonged in the Avengers.
I must say, this was a great way to start the superhero movie season. Everyone knows that Ghost Rider 2 didn’t count, right? Good, because this is what you call a summer blockbuster. It was a fun movie to watch, very engaging but at the same time, the kind of movie you can just sit back and enjoy as a pure spectacle. Not only seeing all of these renowned actors in the same screen, but seeing these heroes in the same battlefield was something that many of us never thought would happen. And you know what, it turned out pretty much exactly as we’d hoped, if not better. The character moments were on par with any ensemble movies out there that are worth noting and the action was just amazing. I’m not sure if I can handle seeing The Amazing Spiderman or The Dark Knight Rises after seeing this movie because even though these movie look really good and will be nothing short of epic, I enjoyed The Avengers so much that it will be hard for either movie to top this. But, I’m always up for being proven wrong. If you have for some reason read all of this and still have not seen this movie, I hope this convinces you to get up and buy a ticket now. I know I will because I really want to see this again soon.
Oh, and by the way, stay till the very, VERY end of the credits. You’ll thank me later.
Inui Takumi, www.risingsuntokusatsu.com