I must confess, I am sort of a half-hearted comic book geek-girl. I never really got into superhero comics, but I certainly grew up reading others. My summers were filled with Archie and Jughead comics, peppered with Casper the Friendly Ghost and Donald Duck for good measure. I’ve also always enjoyed superhero movies, but never been obsessed with them as others have. The Batman series and the drama that always surrounded the new actors or directors caught my eye, but Iron Man is what really made me a fan. Robert Downey Jr. brought humanity and hilarity to that character and made the film accessible to all level of Marvel fans.
When I attended the D23 Expo last August and learned more about the Marvel history, along with pretty much the entire cast of The Avengers walking out on stage and giving us a preview of the movie (twice), my interest and excitement was piqued. Then, time got in the way and we really hadn’t seen any of the other Marvel films, aside from the first Iron Man. Knowing this screening was coming up, my husband and I went on an Avengers movie-watching spree and got caught up on the franchise. [We still have to see Hulk, but I feel like his story was the easiest to catch up on within The Avengers.]
If you need to catch up on the story behind The Avengers, here’s a featurette which will tell you more, including commentary from Joss Whedon and the actors.
In tweeting about our movie marathon, folks would reply with their favorite Avenger film, and in the case of my Avengers giveaway, everyone seems to have a different favorite character. After seeing almost all of the movies, I still cannot choose a favorite! I love Iron Man and Robert Downey Jr. and think his acerbic wit will always keep him close to my heart, but I also found myself really appreciating the story of Captain America and how his character as a man made him who he was, even before the shot of power he received. And then Thor, who doesn’t appreciate an arrogant heir apparent getting the lesson of humility and humanity (while being quite easy on the eyes at the same time)? So still, even after seeing Marvel’s The Avengers, I cannot choose a favorite character. And perhaps that is why The Avengers is such an amazing film. There truly is something for everyone, and if your favorite is in trouble, another Avenger will be there to help him (or her) out.
All of my thoughts aside, I felt the best person to write this review was my husband, a true comic book geek and fan with very pronounced opinions on the subject. I will just add my own thoughts that I think Joss Whedon‘s writing is the true star. The banter and one-liners within the film are reminiscent of every show Whedon has written, and that is what has created such fanboys and girls who think he can do no wrong. I’m there with them now. I think he got it and the audience in our screening appreciated it, as did we. We learned so much more about S.H.I.E.L.D. and The Avengers themselves and watching their alliance unfold before us was a treat. Loki is a great opponent and several times throughout the plot, just when I thought I knew what he was going to do, he surprised me. The ending battle when the Avengers had realized how powerful they were as a team, was full of non-stop action, laughs, and cheers. I left the film excited to see it again and anticipating the next Avengers installment. I cannot think of another superhero film that left me feeling that way. And now that I’ve said my piece, here are my husband, J.F. DiMarzio‘s more in-depth thoughts:
[Warning: some spoilers ahead!]
If you are a fan of Marvel’s Avengers you are going to have many reasons to love this movie. If you are not a fan of Marvel’s Avengers, there are still reasons why you are going to love this movie.
Avengers is the culmination of 5 movies worth of set up. The Hulk, Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America were all the set up for this comic book nerd’s dream. Joss Whedon was the perfect pick to helm the single most important comic book movie to date. His use of humor fit in perfectly with the story. Fans of Firefly or Buffy will feel right at home with the wit of Joss Whedon (there is even a subtle nod to Firefly as Black Widow swears in Chinese under her breath).
So, what makes this movie so great? This is going to be hard to answer with giving away some spoilers. Be forewarned.
Diehard comic book fans can relax, knowing that their beloved Avengers franchise was handled by someone who loves the characters and the story just as much as they do with the very opening scene. The first moments reveal a Skrull. Joss Whedon makes it clear he knows what he is doing, by using the Skrull as the major force of evil in the movie. The best part of using the Skrull is that he doesn’t even stop to introduce them. For the fans this means no boring backstories to sit through. Whedon unapologetically jumps right into the Avengers’ storyline letting the 5 previous movies provide all of the setup. The best part of this approach is that even if you do not know who the Skrull are, you do not feel left out; you quickly accept that this is “a bad guy” and you move on.
Where Whedon’s talents really shine are in how he incorporated each member of the Avengers’ abilities and was able to resolve the plot by giving each hero a specific goal to accomplish. If each goal is not achieved, the team fails. In this way, I cannot point to one Avenger and say “If it wasn’t for X they would have lost.” By doing this, much of the intra-team bickering and frailty that was present in the comics is intact in the film.
Going into the film, I was worried about three things; how would Captain America be handled in the present day, how would the 4th Hulk in as many films come across, and would we have to suffer through more painful Thor love story? Two and a half out of three isn’t bad at all.
Captain America feels totally out of place, as he should. You see that he is uncomfortable, and very much trying to find his way in a world that he is not familiar with. Some of the funniest gaffes of the movie come from this “fish out of water” scenario.
As for the Hulk, Mark Ruffalo does the best job he can playing a character that had already be messed up by three other actors. While this is by far the BEST adaptation of Hulk, it is Whedon’s treatment of Bruce Banner that is lacking. He is portrayed as almost savant-like and at one point even walks around wringing his hands à la Rainman. This is, in the grand scheme of the things, a very small complaint – and the only flaw I could find with the movie.
Finally there is no Thor love story. Rather, there is a very quick mention of Jane Foster as having been “moved to safety”.
So, how do you top a movie like this? The closing credits. Fans of the series know that little Easter eggs lay after the credits in the previous films, and the Avengers, by far, has the best one. If you do not want to have the secret spoiled, stop reading now.
As a set up for, presumably, the next Avengers film, the credits end with the camera back on the Skrull. This time they are talking to a new character. Comic book fans will immediately recognize the figure and squeal with delight just as Thanos comes into frame. Does this mean that next Avengers movie will include the Infinity Gauntlet? Will we see Doctor Strange? Silver Surfer? Spiderman? What do you think?
In summary, as if you needed a reminder – go see Marvel’s The Avengers. You will not be disappointed. It is as close to a perfect action film as I’ve ever seen and supporting the franchise will equal more great sequels in the future. Avengers, assemble!