The Avengers Directed by: Joss Whedon Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Samuel L. Jackson Running Time: 2 hrs 22 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: May 4, 2012
PLOT: Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Black Widow, and Hawkeye join together to defeat Loki from destroying the world.
WHO'S IT FOR? Do you love blockbusters, but consistently feel a little let down by the spectacle of it all? See this one, I think it will fulfill that void.
Fun. Pure blockbuster fun. That's what Whedon, Downey Jr., Ruffalo and the rest of this cast and crew give you with The Avengers. It's amazing that this film even exists. I mean, think of the films that led up to it — Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, and Thor. If any of those films had been a bomb, this one would have been in serious jeopardy. What's incredible is The Avengers manages to be more fun than anyone of those movies. With The Avengers there is power in numbers.
They keep the story pretty simple, as they should with so many moving parts. Loki (Thor's brother) is back. There's a cube with unlimited power, he wants it, and to take control of Earth. Loki loves to talk about humans being desperate to serve. It's a nice concept to think about, just like The Matrix talks about humans being an infection. But what am I talking about Loki for? We have to get this superhero gang together.
Each actor is giving the chance to play with and off the others. For superhero geeks, there's more fodder for the statement "My superhero could beat up your superhero." There's moments of Iron Man vs. Thor, the Hulk vs. Black Widow and plenty of others I won't bother teasing here. I'll be honest, I wasn't blown away with the beginning. It seemed to spend a little too much time with Loki, Black Widow and conversations (instead of explosions). Luckily, Whedon knows what he is doing. In one of my favorite scenes, Loki explains to Black Widow just how evil and deranged he is. It gives this character weight I didn't feel in the film Thor, but it also showcases how capable our heroes are with manipulating him. Soon after the slow beginning, we have nothing but amazing set pieces, giving you all of the action you can hope for. Even though the final battle throughout the city of New York looks like something straight out of a Michael Bay movie, there is a difference and it lies within our connection with these characters along with some great one-liners. Optimus Prime is good, and that's it. Tony Stark is good, snarky, and self-obsessed. That makes Iron Man's battle more enjoyable to watch.
Two characters steal the show for me. Clark Gregg's Agent Phil Coulson is a fantastic uniting force. He's central to the plot of having all of these individuals setting aside their egos, while trying to work together. He's also a voice for all of the fanboys out there. The other big winner here is Ruffalo. He fits as Bruce Banner, but much more importantly Whedon removed a lot of the moodiness of this character. Part of the problem with the Hulk has been that the audience wants to see him smash, but whoever plays Bruce Banner is forced to dislike his inner-demon. The Hulk is fun this time around. I don't know if that would be possible if Ruffalo gets his own feature-length film, but as a side-character it's perfect.
While the running-time of this film is almost two and a half hours, I wanted more. Whedon is now a part of two of my favorite films of 2012. The Cabin in the Woods plays within the horror genre wonderfully. The Avengers is able to take a huge cast of characters, and make it incredibly fun. I can't wait to see if Iron Man 3, Thor 2 and Captain America 2 will be able to keep this universe going, or if they'll feel tiny in comparison. Whatever the case, The Avengers starts the summer blockbuster season off with an incredibly fun ride.
FINAL SCORE: 9/10