Movie Review: Avengers

Summer blockbuster season has officially begun, and first out of the gate is one of the most anticipated comic movies ever. Years of careful building has finally led us here. It’s time to see if Marvel’s carefully crafted build has paid off. The Avengers has hit theaters at last. But, is it any good. Read on and find out.

The road to the Avengers began four years ago, with the bonus scene at the end of Iron Man, which both introduces Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and features the first mention of the Avengers Initiative. This thread would continue through Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America: the First Avenger. In the process we would be introduced to Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), a character created specifically for the film series, the Tesseract (that’s Cosmic Cube for all you Marvelites) and, Thor’s brother Loki (Tom Hiddleton). All of these separate elements would have to somehow join together to form the ambitious final product Marvel was hopping for. Well, guess what? They NAILED it!

The Avengers is an unqualified success on every level. It is a fully satisfying payoff for everyone who followed all of the characters to this point. It works exactly as it should for the same reason that Christopher Nolan’s two Batman films do, put quite simply, everyone is on the same page. Just like Batman films, everyone involved was this movie knew exactly what kind of movie they were setting out to make. It starts, of course, with the cast. Each of the six members of the main Avengers “team” has been established in previous movies, and each cast member has done a stellar job establishing their characters. Iron Man, and more importantly Tony Stark has been vividly brought to life over the last four years by Robert Downey Jr. Downey manages to perfectly balance the insufferable arrogance of Stark’s public persona with the hero within. Thor, as portrayed by Chris Hemsworth, is a demigod struggling to find humility and attempting to learn the ways of Earth. Captain America, played by Chris Evans, is literally a man out of time, having been frozen for close to 60 years. Evans is able to showcase these emotions in scenes involving technology, particularly the scene involving the takeoff of the Helicarrier. Cap’s ignorance of technology is also one of his biggest strengths, as it enables him to see the basic parts of a situation without being bogged down with the details. Rounding out the “big four” is the Incredible Hulk. Much has been made about the falling out between Edward Norton and Marvel over the direction of the Hulk franchise, and the subsequent recasting of the role of Bruce Banner. I would like to credit the filmmakers for forging ahead with the storyline and timeline created in the Hulk movie, which saw Banner decide to disappear at the end, determined to keep his other personality under control. The role of Bruce Banner in this film fell to Mark Ruffalo, as did the pressure of the role due to the aforementioned circumstances involving Edward Norton. But, I’m happy to say Ruffalo is able to get inside the head of Banner and perfectly encapsulates the emotional torture Banner is going through. And, when the big green guy finally makes his appearance, fans will not be disappointed. The Hulk is basically the same as in the previous Hulk movie, though the design has been sharpened and updated slightly. The voice, as it is, of the Hulk is provided by a mix of the voices of Ruffalo and Lou Ferigno. There are two other supporting heroes that are part of the main group. Both were seen in smaller roles in previous films. Black Widow, played by Scarlett Johansson, was introduced in Iron Man 2 as a member of Stark’s legal team. She in fact, is a S.H.I.E.L.D. spy, planted by Nick Fury to keep an eye on Tony. She is a master assassin who is extremely proficient in martial arts. The final member of the hero group is Hawkeye, played by Jeremy Renner, who was introduced in Thor. In that movie, he was firing arrows from a lofty vantage point trying to keep Thor away from his hammer. Hawkeye is also a master assassin, whose weapon of choice is a bow and arrows. He has incredible target vision and uses explosive as well as regular arrows. Also making her film debut in the Avergers is Nick Fury’s second-in-command Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders). Also returning are Dr. Erik Selvig from Thor, played by Stellan Skarsgard and Pepper Potts from Iron Man and Iron Man 2, played by Gwenyth Paltrow.


The film’s main protagonist is Loki, Thor’s brother, who was presumed dead at the end of the Thor film. Loki is seen at the beginning of the film conspiring with an alien menace known as the Chitari, who serve a mysterious master known only as “The Other”. More on him later. Loki is sent to Earth to recover the Tesseract, last seen in the Captain America movie. S.H.I.E.L.D. recovered the Tesseract and has been experimenting on it to harness it’s power. Loki uses his power to control the minds of Hawkeye and Selvig and steals the Tesseract. Nick Fury, realizing that a major crisis is brewing, opts to attempt to bring together a team of superheroes. Loki’s plan is to use the Tesseract to open a portal which will let his Chitari army through to Earth. When Loki appears in Europe, Captain America and Black Widow move to intercept. They are soon joined by Iron Man. Thor, detecting his brother’s presence intervenes and battles with Captain America and Iron Man. Meanwhile, needing a scientist to track the Tesseract’s gamma radiation, Black Widow is sent to retrieve Bruce Banner, who has been without an incident for over a year. Banner agrees to go with Black Widow, and all of the players end up aboard the Helicarrier, a high tech flying fortress. Loki is captured and brought aboard the Helicarrier, where he attempts to create discord among the heroes. Banner, meanwhile, has managed to isolate the energy of the Tesseract. Hawkeye, still under Loki’s control, leads an assault on the Helicarrier. in the ensuing chaos, Loki is freed and the Hulk makes his appearance. Thor is captured by Loki and ejected from the Helicarrier following a huge battle with Thor in the hanger bay. During Loki’s escape, Agent Coulson is killed , but not before blasting Loki out of the Helicarrier. Captain America and Iron Man work together to stabilize the Helicarrier. Thor returns after landing on Earth. The heroes are saddened to learn of Coulson’s death and it galvanizes them. Loki, it turns out is headed for Stark Tower in New York City where he plans to construct a device that will open a portal to bring forth the Chitari invasion force. The Hulk, now Banner again, has also landed on Earth. Captain America, Iron Man, Black Widow and Hawkeye make their stand as the portal opens and the Chitari begin their invasion. In addition to foot soldiers on strange flying machines, fearsome flying serpent-like creatures come spilling forth from the portal. Iron Man’s armor is damaged in the fray, so he returns to his office, where he has a confrontation with Loki. Loki tosses Stark out the window, but not before he grabs a bracelet used to deploy the NEW Iron Man armor. This is the Mark VII for those paying attention. Hulk goes after Loki, and in an absolutely hilarious scene, beats him senseless. Meanwhile, Fury’s superiors have decided to nuke New York to stop the invasion. A missile is fired from a rogue jet. Fortunately, the missile is intercepted by Iron Man, who guides it through the portal. On the roof of Stark Tower, Dr. Selvig has been freed from Loki’s mind control and reveals to Black Widow that Loki’s scepter can close the portal. Iron Man runs out of energy after guiding the missile through the portal and falls back through just as it is about to close. He is caught by Hulk before he can hit the ground. After the battle, Thor takes Loki and the Tesseract back to Asgard, while the rest of the Avengers go their separate ways. Fury notes that they will return when they are needed. END OF MOVIE.


Ok, Still here? Good. There are two after-credit scenes for the Avengers. One of them sets the stage for the future of the Marvel movies, the other is one of the funniest scenes I have ever seen in a Marvel movie. The first scene occurs just after the stylized end credits for the main actors. In it, the Other confers with his mysterious master, saying to attack the Earth is to court Death. The mysterious figure turns his face towards the camera and smiles, giving us a good look at his PURPLE face and RIDGED CHIN. Ladies and Gentleman, I give you the Mad Titan: THANOS! I cannot put accurately into words how excited I was to see this turn of events. It almost certainly means that the sequel will be taking a decidedly cosmic term, which is very exciting to think about. The second scene takes place after all of the main credits have rolled. In it, all of the Avengers sit in a schwarma restaurant and eat at a table together in TOTAL SILENCE. The scene is awkward, uncomfortable and hilarious.

In short, the reason this movie works is because every who made it wanted it to. Joss Whedon was the perfect director for this film. He listened to his cast and used their input to make the movie better. The cast for their part all look like they are settling into their roles much more comfortably. At this point, Robert Downey Jr. looks like he was BORN to play Tony Stark. Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans took their second turns as Thor and Captain America and really cemented themselves as those characters. Scarlet Johansson and Jeremy Renner finally got their full due as Black Widow and Hawkeye and Samuel L. Jackson finally got to play Nick Fury for more than two and a half minutes. mark Ruffalo did a great job of not letting all of the media blitz surrounding his casting interfere with his portrayal of the conflicted Dr. Bruce Banner, always at war with himself ,and Tom Hiddleton also did a fantastic job balancing the insanity and superiority that rule Loki’s psyche. Finally, special mention must be paid to the job Clark Gregg did portraying Agent Coulson. We got so attached to the character thanks to his amazing portrayal, that I, for one, cried when he died. The amazing part is, he is NOT one of the Avengers. When an actor can make you care that much about a supporting cast character, that is a job well done. It has the perfect balance of action and humor and even a cameo by Stan “the Man” Lee, who should be proud to see these characters on the screen at at last. I am excited to see where this franchise is headed. I think, as long as the people involved with this film are still involved, this franchise has a long and successful history ahead of it. I cannot stress enough how highly I recommend this film. It is my absolute pleasure to give The Avengers a 5 out of 5.

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