“The Avengers” hits the bullseye
Although “The Avengers” only opened last weekend, it feels like it’s been out much longer. It made a whopping $350 million over the course of two weekends, but there was a lot riding on the movie before it even came out. Marvel had been building it up for four years through five different movies, it was under the direction of geek icon Joss Whedon (the man behind the cult TV shows “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Firefly”), and trailers were circulated over the Internet like crazy. With all this buildup, does “The Avengers” live up to the hype?
Well, yes it does.
I’m sorry if I was leading you in a completely different direction, but I can’t help it. This is not only a very enjoyable superhero movie, it’s a very enjoyable summer blockbuster. Top-notch special effects, terrific action, and well-written comic relief make “The Avengers” the right kickoff for what looks to be a very promising summer season.
The plot is set in motion by Loki (Tom Hiddleston), the adopted brother and arch-nemesis of Thor (Chris Hemsworth), who plans to obtain an energy cube to open up a gateway to the universe and wreak havoc on the earth with reptilian creatures. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), the head of a military agency called S.H.I.E.L.D, calls upon an elite group of superheroes to stop him. The group consists of familiar faces you’ve come to know through other recent Marvel movies with Mark Ruffalo taking over for Edward Norton as The Incredible Hulk and Hemsworth, Robert Downey Jr, and Chris Evans reprising their roles as Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America respectively. Scarlett Johansson also reprises her role as Black Widow from “Iron Man 2,” and Jeremy Renner returns from his cameo in “Thor” as an archer named Hawkeye.
The story isn’t particularly deep and there isn’t as much of the drama of being a superhero as something like “The Dark Knight,” but for just being a fun action movie it delivers. A lot of this movie’s success is due in part to how well-developed these characters are. Even if you didn’t read the comics or see any of the movies building up to it, you can still easily connect to these characters as their backstories are established but not prolonged. For such a wide variety of characters, they work really well together.
The movie also has a refreshing sense of humor. Whedon’s works have been known to mix elements of comedy with other genres, and “The Avengers” does a good job of blending action with comedy. There are subtle touches like Downey Jr. wearing a Black Sabbath t-shirt when he’s not in the Iron Man suit, and even bits of dialogue (like Thor saying that he can’t kill Loki because he’s his brother, but after Black Widow says that he killed 8,000 people, Thor tells her “He’s adopted“), but they never bring down the tone of the movie or make it feel campy. It’s not an action-comedy but rather an action movie that happens to have some great comedic moments (and I didn’t even spoil the best ones!)
Despite going on a bit long and some lackluster 3-D (which is obviously post-converted and blurs some of the action), there’s not a whole lot to complain about. “The Avengers” may not be the most “intelligent” comic book movie, but I wouldn’t call it a “dumb” comic book movie either. It’s got a somewhat involving story that’s assisted by great characters, dialogue, and action. “The Avengers” definitely raises the bar for the 2012 summer season, but can a certain man in a bat suit stand against them? We’ll just have to wait and see.