The Avengers was an unprecedented endeavor; never before have characters from different films been brought together, and certainly never so successfully. Joss Whedon’s direction and treatment of the characters are nothing short of brilliant, allowing every hero to be themselves while interacting with each other and working together as only seen in comic books.
One of the great joys of comics is the crossovers (Hulk vs. Wolverine!, Spider-Man teams up with Captain America!; though, don’t plan to see those on film anytime soon), and Marvel’s establishing their cinematic universe had thus far been restricted to details and cameos. To put all these characters in the same film and to do it so well approaches a level of awesomeness the comic-loving world had not yet known. There’s Robert Downey, Jr.’s charismatic Iron Man, the “genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist” who started it all. There’s Chris Hemsworth’s hunky Thor, whose Shakespearean trappings offer a noble, often amusing counterpoint to the modern environment and dialogue. There’s Chris Evans’s thawed Captain America, whose patriotism and war experience transform into full-fledged team leadership. There’s Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/the Hulk, stepping gracefully into the shoes vacated by Edward Norton and becoming the newest go-to giant green rage monster. There’s Scarlett Johansson’s lithe superspy Black Widow, with a past still yet to be explored, and Jeremy Renner’s super-archer Hawkeye; though we still know very little about either of them, not having films of their own thus far, they round out the team to include unpowered humans who still pack a punch. In addition to other characters from past Marvel films, there’s also Samuel L. Jackson as duplicitous but well-meaning S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury, Clark Gregg as unfortunate Agent Coulson, Cobie Smulders as newcomer Agent Maria Hill, and of course Tom Hiddleston as the ever-watchable villain Loki, who expertly balances cunning and megalomania, despite a rather ridiculous horned costume.
There are so many amazing scenes and even a few newly iconic ones, like that long continuous shot spanning the entirety of the New York City battlefield or that silent post-credits scene that introduced everyone to shawarma. The film opens with a bang even before the title appears, and the helicarrier ups the ante with high-tech grandeur while indulging in inter-character squabbles and showdowns. The final full-scale conflict becomes a new high among superhero battles, again letting every character have their moment to step up, kick butt, or earn a laugh. Even the details were well-planned, like some fleeting mentions of a cellist Coulson was seeing, which was expanded on in Whedon’s TV show “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”
The Avengers is the culmination of Marvel’s cinematic Phase One, and it paid off beautifully, creating one of the most tremendous, smart, and entertaining action blockbusters in recent memory. Plus, it’s one of the cleanest Marvel films, catering to every taste and age group. Joss Whedon, well-known for his witty banter, was the right man for the job. This film is a “marvel,” and I can’t wait for the second one this summer.Best line: (Bruce Banner) “I don’t think we should be focusing on Loki. That guy’s brain is a bag full of cats. You can smell crazy on him.” (Thor) “Have a care how you speak! Loki is beyond reason, but he is of Asgard, and he is my brother!” (Black Widow) “He killed eighty people in two days.” (Thor) “He’s adopted.” Rank: 59 out of 60
© 2015 S. G. Liput
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