Life can sometimes [often] disappoint you when you have to stick with things for the long haul. Sometimes that final payoff falls a tad short of what you dreamed it would be. Can you cope with that disappointment? Many fanboys and casual moviegoers alike have voiced just such a concern in regards to Marvel Studios. There's a prevailing notion that Marvel caught lightning in a bottle with the first Iron Man and would never rise to such successful heights with any subsequent film release. Sure Iron Man II made more money but it didn't set the world on fire like its predecessor and was critically panned. Even movies such as Thor, The Incredible Hulk and Captain America: The First Avenger, while good, didn't quite generate the buzz and Marvel euphoria that the first Iron Man created. So the endgame of the 'first phase' as Kevin Feige likes to call those films, culminates in our heroes all coming together to fight a battle that no single hero could hope to win alone. Everyone knew this was coming but could Marvel pull it off, could it be bigger and better than the first Iron Man , could The Avengers be bigger and better than all the previous films combined? Despite some minor plot issues and convenient story developments, The Avengers is everything you hoped it would be and sidesteps all the critical movie traps that were lying in wait to doom such a complex, and briskly paced movie venture.
Before I heap oodles and oodles of praise on Joss Whedon [and trust me I will], let's focus on where the film is a little murky. Each actor portrayed their character in such an uncanny, believable fashion that it's going to be hard to pick up a comic book and not be ticked off that Black Widow doesn't look like Scarlett Johanson or Bruce Banner doesn't look like Mark Ruffalo, the onscreen personas were that good. You can search and search all the way down to "Panicked Civilian #45" and you won't find a single weak performance. I feel sorry for the actors who will one day [hopefully, not too soon] follow in their footsteps. However, I do have a few misgivings about the characters, not in how they were portrayed but in what happened around them. It's minutia but it still nagged my subconscious during the 3am ride home. The Hulk steals the show, as you've probably heard numerous times by now, but what bugs me is that one minute he's fighting Black Widow and Thor and then a few scenes later he's fighting alongside the heroes and wreaking havoc amongst Loki's army of Chitauri. Unless I missed something, there's nothing in the movie that overtly explains this rather sudden change of alignment. Sure, you can make a lot of assumptions as to why this happens but that's a loose end no matter how you look at it. Also, the convenient plot-point that Dr. Selvig, played by Stellan Skarsgård, would [Extreme Spoiler] resist Loki's Infinity Gem [fairly certain that's what that was] and build a fail-safe in his portal machine is a large pill to swallow. It was shown that Loki had complete control over the "hearts" he ensnared, so why Dr. Selvig of all people would be able to resist is a little odd. [End Spoiler] The only other head scratcher is the Chituari all shutting down like laptops out of battery juice when Iron Man bombed the mother-ship. This particular plot point has been done in prior sci-fi movies but usually our protagonists discover the link between the invaders and the mother-ship first and then launch a deliberate attack rather than the mere happenstance that unfolded in the climax. Luckily, you're having so much fun and you're so entertained and engrossed with the film that these hiccups don't really register, it was only after the film and during the ride home that I began to second-guess some of the plot developments.
Now we can start the praise fest. It is evident that Whedon, as script writer and director, had complete control of the film. The pacing was superb even better than what Jon Favreau gave us back in 2008. This wasn't a slow burner, the movie grabbed you by the neck from the opening jump and then applied increasing pressure for the next 2 hrs and 23 minutes. The wit in the film is so sharp and crisp that it creates a feeling that these are your friends on the big screen and they're sharing inside jokes that only you understand. In a packed theater of howling fans Whedon has managed to create a movie that makes it feel as if you're in the theater alone. Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark is just as, if not more funny than he was in the first Iron Man and plays perfectly off the straight-man performance delivered by his counterpoint, Chris Evan's Steve Rogers. While it would've been very easy to devote a large chunk of the film to these two characters, everyone is given equal footing and screen time. The world building continues in the form of Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow, as her back-history is fleshed out as well as her past relationship with Hawkeye in a memorable dialogue exchange with Tom Hiddleston's Loki. Stark and Banner were the stars of the film but Whedon's "signature touch" makes Black Widow a scene stealer. The fight choreography and SFX were stellar and really showcased precisely what each Avenger brings to the table. The most damage was done by Hulk and Thor but Cap definitely held his own and everyone from Black Widow to Agent Coulson got their chance to shine. The cinematography and editing, while not spectacular, are solid and allow Whedon's strengths to come to the forefront. It must be very tempting as a director to know that you have the ability to put a signature visual stamp à la Tarantino or Malick on a film that's likely to be seen by a large audience who have never seen your work. It's a chance to reinvent yourself or craft that identity for yourself that you always wanted. Thankfully, Whedon doesn't attempt to do this. The film doesn't have a sweeping visual moment but there are a few creative and unique camera angles that present the peril and characters in new and interesting ways. The plot, while tweaked and modernized is a combination of both the original 616 and Ultimate versions of how the team came together. It combines the nostalgia of the original written by Stan Lee with the bravado and cynicism of Mark Millar's The Ultimates. On paper it seems like an odd mixture but it unequivocally works on the silver screen.
The Avengers possesses stellar character portrayals, fluid fight choreography, unparalleled wit and charm along with solid camera work and editing. These aspects of the film are so good that you'll completely excuse the few plot elements that are just a smidgen dull. The Avengers by Joss Whedon earns a---
The Avengers is an upcoming American superhero film produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures, based on the Marvel Comics superhero team of the same name. It is the sixth installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film is written and directed by Joss Whedon and features an ensemble cast, which includes Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner and Samuel L. Jackson. In The Avengers, Nick Fury, director of the peacekeeping organization S.H.I.E.L.D., recruits Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, and Captain America to save the world from destruction.
Development of The Avengers began when Marvel Studios received a grant from Merrill Lynch in April 2005. After the success of the film Iron Man in May 2008, Marvel announced that The Avengers would be released in July 2011. With the signing of Scarlett Johansson in March 2009, the film was pushed back for a 2012 release. Whedon was brought on board in April 2010 and rewrote the screenplay that was originally written by Zak Penn. Production began in April 2011 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, before moving to Cleveland, Ohio in August 2011 and New York City in September 2011. The film was converted to 3D in post-production.
The Avengers is scheduled for release on May 4, 2012 in the United States in 2D and 3D.
Running Time: 2 hrs 22 minutes
Release Date: May 4 2012 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG 13 for for intense sequences of action and violence, some disturbing images, and language
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Hiddleston, Cobie Smulders, Jeremy Renner, Clark Gregg, Stellan Skarsgård, Mark Ruffalo, Amanda Righetti, Scarlett Johansson and Lou Ferrigno The Incredible Hulk (voice) .
Directed by: Joss Whedon
Written by: Zak Penn (initial screenplay), Joss Whedon (revised screenplay)