The Superheroes assemble under Whedon’s watchful gaze, and he steers them through with wit and intelligence, as well as almost managing to avoid the film becoming the Tony Stark show.
It’s been a long time, and a smorgasbord of varying quality movies, coming but finally the Avengers have assembled (thanks for the heads up Marvel UK, I’d never have worked out it wasn’t about Peel and Steed without your help with the title). Joss Whedon has a whale of a time here getting to play with a toy box full of ‘world-savers’ and a science kit of explosions and commuter trickery.
The Avengers picks up the story with Captain America, newly defrosted he is a fish out of water in the 21st Century. Leading the bad-guys Loki reappears from Thor and we are set for a fist fight of epic scale. Whedon gets us quickly into the story and develops the idea of the tessaract (a blue box of infinite power) in a simple and clear way. The move of Loki to harness the power of this object is worthy of bringing together the Avengers.
The screenplay (Whedon also) brings all of the necessary characters to the fore quickly and give enough information to those new to the series, while giving a knowing wink to those who have been along for the journey from the start. The characters all play to their most famous angle Captain America (Chris Evans, not that one) is stuffy and old-fashioned; Thor (Chris Hemsworth), and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) for that matter, speak in old English and brandish godly powers; Black Widow (Scarlett Johannson) brings a perfect form squeezed into a black cat suit and shows off her Derren Brown powers of persuasion; newcomer Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) is mainly irrelevant, but allows Marvel to start selling some crossbows and Iron Man/Tony Stark plays the billionaire, genius, playboy, philanthropist with all the style, wit and sarcasm we have come to love in the previous movies.
By bringing the characters to us as we understand them this gives Whedon the space to develop the real success story of Avengers, the Hulk. Mark Ruffalo brings a humanity to Bruce Banner which has been missing from previous movie interpretations of the character and with the enhanced CGI capabilities a great motion capture performance as The Hulk. The fact that Whedon waits well in to the movie to unveil the green beast, means that he can use the potential of the Hulk to expose other failings and flaws in the other characters. The interaction between Stark and Banner in the middle section of the film is hilarious, inquisitive and dynamic.
The support cast bring a lot to this movie, almost as much as the main cast. Samuel L. Jackson is well pitched as Nick Fury, both commanding and suspicious in equal measure; Clark Gregg continuing his role as Agent Coulson of SHIELD has a pivotal role that consolidates all of his work on the series so far. Stellan Skarsgard and Cobie Smulders perform their roles well and make the most of limited screen time. Gwyneth Paltrow is woefully underused in her role as Pepper Potts, and a role that is so integral to the Iron Man films is reduced to her looking pretty in a white shirt and denim shorts.
In terms of the battles the Avengers face, they spend an awful lot of time aboard the flying-sky-station-helicopter-invisible-thingamabob, but once they are on the ground the action sequences are well choreographed, well orchestrated and avoid falling into the Bay trap (so much happening you can’t tell what is happening). Each hero plays their own role and there are moments for them all to shine (and look badass).
However, as a Whedon film, the strength really is in the dialogue. There are many killer lines and the joke rate is kept high both spoken and visual gags coming thick and fast. The enjoyment in this film comes from watching good guys tiptoeing around villains, villains sparring with good guys and most entertainingly good guys fighting with good guys. It was always going to be a challenge to bring this many egos together, Whedon’s move is to make that the thrust of the story and that is to his credit. Tom Hiddleston as Loki is an excellent villain, the perfect combination of power and megalomania, and his scenery chewing performance is tempered enough to keep it just the right side of pantomime.
With a sequel almost certainly guaranteed Whedon is keen not to blow all the tricks in this one go and leaves plenty in the tank both in terms of the characters and action ideas. There’s plenty here to get your teeth into but it falls just short of the hype, however when has a movie ever been as hyped as this?
The Avengers is a riot of action and smart dialogue and it’s most successful achievement is not only satisfying the awaiting masses but opening up the possibility of a decent Hulk movie.
- How Joss Whedon and Tony Stark brought Marvel’s The Avengers Full Circle (comicbookherald.com)
- Hot Sweaty Men With Big Muscles in Tight Costumes… ASSEMBLE! (bromoto.wordpress.com)
- Joss Whedon Is “Very Torn” About Returning To Direct ‘The Avengers’ Sequel (theartsyfilmblog.com)
- Whedon & Cast on “The Avengers,” Loki and Marvel Vs. DC (comicbookresources.com)