It was the big screen event diehard superhero comic book and film fans had been waiting for. And “Marvel’s The Avengers” is the rare movie that exceeded expectations. After “Iron Man” became a box office hit and re-launched Robert Downey, Jr.’s career, Marvel Studios released “The Incredible Hulk” (starring Edward Norton) and “Iron Man 2”, and then followed with last summer’s “Thor” and “Captain America: The First Avenger”. And all these iconic characters come together to save the world in “Marvel’s The Avengers”. It was the first film of the 2012 Summer Movie Season and maybe the best superhero movie of all-time.
Samuel L. Jackson first appeared as Nick Fury, the leader of S.H.I.E.L.D, our country’s top-secret defense unit, at the end of “Iron Man” asking Tony Stark to become part of The Avengers Initiative. In “The Avengers” we see that project come together. But Fury needs to assemble this team sooner than he expected because the evil god Loki, Thor’s half-brother (and the villain in “Thor”), has escaped his world and come to earth. Loki has an army and a plan to either kill or make slaves of all humans. Early in the film he steals a weapon that Shield was working-on that will give him the power, literally, to destroy everything in his path.
So it’s up to The Avengers to join forces (and egos) to try to take Loki down. The six very different members include Downey Jr.’s Iron Man (who isn’t big on the idea of this project at the start), Chris Hemsworth’s Thor (who feels guilty because it’s his brother causing all the trouble), Chris Evans’ Captain America (who’s still trying to adjust to the modern world), Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow (who debuted in “Iron Man 2”), Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye (he and his bow and arrows had a small role in “Thor”), and Bruce Banner (a.k.a. The Hulk), played by Mark Ruffalo. He’s the third actor to play this role in the past decade (Eric Bana starred in 2003’s “Hulk” and then Norton in 2008).
This might sound like way too simple of a plot-line: Six superheroes comes together to battle one evil mega-villain and his army. And on the surface, it is. And that’s what makes “The Avengers” even more of an amazing accomplishment because it turns this very simple story into a wildly entertaining film.
First of all, the movie is jammed with action. Many of the early fight scenes involve the Avengers fighting amongst themselves, as they test each other to see who’s worthy. The last half-hour is practically one non-stop battle sequence, but it’s staged with a nice pace that keeps it interesting and not (like in so many other action films) mind-numbing. In fact all of the action scenes are a lot of fun. And the script is filled with touches of humor – clever dialogue and funny moments that help balance-out all the action.
Downey, Jr. is spot-on as usual as the sharp, sarcastic Stark. Ruffalo is a good choice as The Hulk. He brings his own unique style to the character and, some will argue, steals the movie. Johansson and Renner are solid. The Chrises are also good, though Evans stands-out a little more than Hemsworth. But the strongest performance for me comes from Jackson, who can deliver effective dialogue, shoot a weapon and make you laugh. He’s the ideal choice to play the role of a non-superhero leader of a group of superheroes.
“The Avengers” is close to two-and-a-half hours long. The first half, while the team is coming together, is dominated by Loki. Tom Hiddleston does a nice job. The character works well within the storyline and his interactions, one at a time with each of the Avengers, are a strong element of the film. Most of the special effects are impressive, though a few do look a little cheesy (especially on Asgard – Thor and Loki’s planet).
Is this movie goofy, silly and at times a little overly-dramatic? Of course…but who cares! It’s exciting and engaging, with the best score and costume design of any movie so far this year.
“The Avengers” is rated PG-13 for all of the action/violence. It’s appropriate for kids 11and up, who will love all the action. Parents, if you’re going to take younger kids to this, and I know you are, please keep them quiet during the film. Of course Marvel fans (both comics and films) will not be disappointed either. And, as usual, there’s a few extra to keep an eye out for: the regular cameo by the great Stan Lee and not one, but two surprises during the credits.
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “Marvel’s The Avengers” gets an A-. I haven’t had a chance to check-out any of the extras but I think it’s safe to say they should be awesome (if not, we’ll all hear about it).