By Corey Corcoran | May 3, 2012
Director: Joss Whedon
Writers: Zak Penn (story), Joss Whedon (story), Stan Lee (characters), Jack Kirby (characters)
Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, and Samuel L. Jackson
If you’re undecided on whether or not to hit up the theater to see The Avengers, you’ve probably never picked up a Marvel comic book in the past 49 years, or you’re just not into big action movies. Either way you can save 10 minutes of your life and read something else on the internet today. I hear there are some deliciously low fat recipes on Skinnytaste; maybe you can pin them to your Pinterest or tweet them to your lady friends?
If you’ve been waiting with bated breath for this superhero extravaganza to hit the screens for what seems like an eternity then you can just skip this review ‘cause you know what I’m going to say…this is THE comic book blockbuster of the decade. OK, maybe not the whole decade, but it is definitely the preeminent comic book blockbuster to come out in 2012.
So if you’re still reading this true believers, let’s get to it. First off I’d like to point out that I’m a big enough comic nerd to have picked up on the heavy handed Jim Starlin-esque cosmic opening (and post credit closing) but not enough of a geek to realize that the reptilian extraterrestrials Loki has hooked up with to conquer the Earth were actually Skrulls. They kept calling them the Chitauri and never once did those suckers do any shape-shifting for Christ’s sake; how was I supposed to know? I mean other than their green skin, pointy ears, and corrugated chins…
Anyway, the story goes like this: Evil Asgardian, Loki, has big plans to steal the Tesseract (which you may remember from the post credit scene in Thor, or as the hypercube from Iron Man 2, or even as “the jewel of Odin’s treasure room” from Captain American: The First Avenger) from S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division) and use its unlimited power to subjugate us puny Earthlings. Loki succeeds with phase one of his evil plan and his theft of the Tesseract (and mind control of some of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s top players) forces S.H.I.E.L.D. director, Nick Fury, into reactivating the Avengers Initiative. This sets off a chain of ear shattering, eyeball searing events and the assembling of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to face the greatest threat our world has ever faced! And it’s all in done in amazing stereoscopics!
Let’s talk about this whole 3-D phenomenon for a second. I’m not against it, and I’m certainly all for it when it comes to certain types of movies. When you’re watching something as amazing as superheroes slugging it out with alien invaders (and each other) for 2 and a half hours, don’t you want the action to be as in your face as humanly possible? I know I do! And even though it took me about 20 minutes to get used to all the whiz bang 3-D tricks, once I got comfortable I couldn’t imagine watching The Avengers in boring ol’ two dimensions.
I don’t think many would argue that Joss Whedon maybe wasn’t everyone’s first choice to handle a comic book movie of this scope but probably turned out to be the best man for the job. His ability to capture the more human emotions from a bunch of super heroes without slipping into the maudlin territory inhabited by the X-Men was no mean feat. Thanks to Whedon’s writing and direction, (almost) every actor had some room to breathe some believability into their extraordinary characters. Robert Downey, Jr. propels the film forward with his fast talking, flippant, and furiously handsome Tony Stark/Iron Man, while Chris Evans keeps the whole thing grounded as Marvel’s own big blue boyscout, Steve Rogers/Captain America. Johansson and Renner are fine as Black Widow and Hawkeye but who I really wanted on the team were founding members Wasp and Ant-Man. Who knows, maybe those rumors about Eva Longoria and Nathan Fillion as the pint sized crime fighting couple will come true in the sequel? The real surprise star and crowd-pleaser was Mark Ruffalo’s Dr. Bruce Banner/Hulk combo. Ruffalo’s approach to Banner was eccentric genius meets a kind of “not gonna’ take it anymore” Straw Dogs David Sumner, and when Banner turns into the meanest, greenest, 1000+ lb monster that smashes shit up real good, you just might find yourself cheering along with all the other frustrated nerds in the theater.
Is The Avengers a perfect movie? No. But hey, we’re talking comic books, not Citizen Kane. So is it a perfect comic book movie? Just about. Any flaws The Avengers has are quickly overshadowed by the next big action set piece or clever bit of dialogue, and at 2 and a half hours there are plenty of both to keep even the most jaded fanboy captivated and delighted. Oh, be sure to stick around after the credits to see that Jim Starlin inspired scene I mentioned, and the big reveal of the sequel’s next villain. It’s a doozy!
As Stan “The Man” Lee would say, “Excelsior!”