Well, it’s finally upon us. After four years, two great films, two crappy ones and an ok sequel, and a bullshit release overseas before it came to America, the release day of The Avengers is upon us. So what’s the plot? Well, Loki, our respective villain from Thor, has come to Earth seeking the Tesseract Cube, intending to open a portal to a distant world which will allow a massive alien army invade and overrun the Earth. To prevent this from happening, Nick Fury, (Samuel L. Jackson), brings together Iron Man/Tony Stark, (Robert Downy Jr.), Captain America/Steve Rogers, (Chris Evans), the Incredible Hulk/Bruce Banner, (Mark Ruffalo), Thor, (Chris Hemsworth), and SHIELD agents Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, (Scarlett Johansson) and Clint Barton/Hawkeye, (Jeremy Renner) to form The Avengers to prevent this from happening.
Now before I go into what makes this film good and bad, I need to get two things out of the way. One: It’s not as good as or better than The Dark Knight. The writing, acting, characterization and themes just aren’t as good. But I wasn’t expecting it to be and that’s not something you should go into this film thinking. However, I can honestly say that this is easily the best of the Avenger films, and a contender for Marvel’s best comic book film.
Now, starting with what they got right, they knocked it out of the park! Mainly, the characters. Robert Downy Jr. gave what was easily his best performance as Iron Man. He’s still funny but his stupid antics are gone and what we get instead is a very serious, dramatic performance that’s still able to put in a few laughs every now and then but never to the point of where it dilutes the performance. We also finally get to see the arc reactor power something besides the Iron Man suite which was incredibly refreshing, (I was having my doubts that we ever would).
I may have had my doubts about Chris Evans in Captain America: The First Avenger, but here he gives it his all and turns in a very good performance. While I’m still not convinced that he is Captain America, he played his part incredibly well. They also address the relationship issue between Thor and Loki and you do feel how badly Thor wants Loki to abandon his evil ways and be his brother again and you wish he would to.
We also get to see a lot more of Nick Fury and the various S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and they all come out as three dimensional characters. We see a much more sinister side of the organization and Nick Fury proves to be the kind of overseer of the Avengers that I knew he was going to be. We also get to see a lot more of Black Widow and learn a bit more about her past which was a good thing in my opinion. Hawkeye was sadly underused here but whenever he was on screen he was awesome. Agent Colson also had a much larger role here and we see a side of the character we never did before.
They guy who stole the whole show, however, was Bruce Banner/The Hulk. I mean, good God! It took them three movies and three different actors, writers and directors but they finally got him right. Mark Ruffalo was perfect as Banner and you really got the sense that he was constantly trying to keep this monster in check and it’s obvious that many of the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents are scared shitless of him. They also got the look of the Hulk right. While it was still obvious to me that it was CGI, it was good CGI and there was never a moment where I didn’t think that this thing was real. The design of it was excellent as well as it actually looked like a giant green version of the actor; something that previous Marvel films failed to do.
Another thing that really exceeded my expectations was the character interaction. Now, in all honesty, I went into this film thinking that they were going bicker constantly and act the way The Justice League did in the D.C. Reboot; where they all tried to constantly prove who’s got the biggest junk. This didn’t happen and thank God for that. They all acted like adults and any bickering or arguments they had was believable, given their different personalities and situations. The best interactions easily came from Stark, Banner, and Rodgers who all worked off each other perfectly and I just loved how quickly Banner and Stark became friends. It was easily the biggest surprise of the film and I am so glad it turned out so well. Ultimately, they’re all characters that we care about and I am so glad that Joss Whedon did such a great job in writing and directing these people.
On the technical side of things, the film was also pretty good. The visual effects were fantastic and I believed almost everything that I saw on screen. While I think the action scenes could have used some better editing and should have been a bit longer they deliver the good and were a lot of fun to watch, particularity the climax and Thor’s fight with the Hulk. And like all the other Avenger films, it had a great sense of humor, particularly involving the Hulk in the film’s final act. Just be ready to bust a gut when you see these parts.
But this film does have some problems, and I’d be lying if I said that they didn’t distract me. For starters the first act of the film felt rushed and the main storyline didn’t really amount to much more then Loki and his benefactors are invading the Earth with an army of aliens and it’s up to a dysfunctional team of superheroes to stop them and like the last five has a lot of SSBS in it. Loki may have been more menacing here but I honestly felt his motivations were better in Thor. In this film, however, he crosses into one dimensional villain territory which was disappointing. Chris Hemsworth may have improved as Thor but he still isn’t what I would call “good” in the role. The explanation on how he got back to Earth was completely half-assed and didn’t amount to much more than “It’s magic bitch. We don’t have to explain it.” I also can’t help but wonder where the hell Rhodey was. I mean, there is an alien invasion going on and Tony doesn’t think to include his best friend in on the matter? And when it finally started hitting the fan, why didn’t he show up?
There were also a few action scenes in the first act of the film, mainly the fight between Iron Man and Thor that felt completely useless and could have been cut out of the film all together. About a third of the sound effects seemed off to me. For some reason, a lot of gunshots didn’t actually sound like gunshots and explosions didn’t sound like explosions. It was just odd. Finally, like all the other Avenger movies, there is a post credit sequel bait scene which is continuing the franchise machine. I really hate it when movies do that.
All around, this film was exactly what I was hoping for and more then met my expectations. Was the main plot flawed? Yes. But was it good? No, it was fantastic. The special effects were great, the action scenes were thrilling, it had a great sense of humor and the acting and character interaction was fantastic and this is the kind of summer blockbuster that deserves to succeed. If you like superhero movies, particularly the Avenger films, go see this one. You will not be disappointed.
Comic Book Movie Rating