I don’t even know where to begin in reviewing The Avengers. The movie was like a dream. It was a blur of holy-shit-this-is-happening moments full of awesomeness (articulate, I know). When it was over, it was like waking up from a dream where you are trying to process it so you can remember it all. For all intents and purposes, this movie could have gone so wrong so many times during its development process but it didn’t. It has an enormously talented and enjoyable cast. It has Joss Whedon, who is immensely qualified to deliver a proper ensemble film that excites and entertains all the while tending to character development. The Avengers proves the superhero genre doesn’t need to be deconstructed or stripped of it’s comic-booky elements in favor of utter realism, it needs to be fucking embraced!
One of the great aspects of the film is seeing the characters (and actors) playing off each other. It’s so much fun to just watch these guys interact even when they are in everyday clothes. Their egos clash and they make jabs at each other that often result in hilarity. They are dysfunctional and fight with each other. These are what the heroes in The Avengers are like but when it comes time to get their shit together, they work beautifully and keep those egos in check. Every Avenger gets their due time in the movie, some more than others, but there is an arc to each character. Each one of them is dealing with their own issues while being pushed into a team they didn’t really ask to join. The X-men movies are about a team of people that are all unified by the fact that they are mutants and looked down upon. The Avengers are all people that don’t belong together and this makes them much more interesting to watch.
I enjoyed every character in the movie a hell of a lot. I really dug Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow. She was incredibly smart, great at manipulation and could kick some major ass. I absolutely love the Black Widow fight choreography. It feels fresh and is just really amazing to watch. Johansson herself gives one of the better performances of her career and plays the character wonderfully. The real gem of the movie though is the Hulk. Don’t get me wrong, I loved all the rest of the big hitters as well, but the Hulk we see in The Avengers is the Hulk that we need to see more of. He’s intelligent but still retains a level of unleashed monster mixed with child-like reactions. He’s a hero this time around and it is truly marvelous to watch. Not only do we get to see him do glorious battle but there are moments in the movie involving him that are laugh out loud hilarious. I think everyone cheered and laughed when Hulk and Loki confront each other. He was most definitely a crowd pleaser. Let’s hope they continue this Hulk into another solo movie.
I introduced myself to Joss Whedon’s writing with the short-lived Firefly but it was Buffy the Vampire Slayer that solidified my love of his work. He can take characters and give them great depth while also making them enormously relatable. He wants you to care about the people in his stories because he knows if you don’t, the story will lose its impact. This is one of many reasons why I think he was the perfect choice to write and direct The Avengers. He’s also very qualified from just being a big fan of Marvel comics and knowing these characters from years of stories. He does an incredible job providing something more than just cool things to look at on the big screen. He’s created a world for which these characters to exist in and humanizes them. He’s allowed us to invest in them and watch them become the earth’s mightiest heroes right in front of our eyes. I don’t think there was anyone else that could have delivered The Avengers to us so successfully.
The Avengers is easily Marvel’s best movie to date and undoubtedly sits pretty high up in the best comic book movies of all time category. I really hope moving forward that Marvel relinquishes some of their more cheap habits and hires Whedon back to do The Avengers 2 with an even higher budget. They hint at much bigger and more cosmic dealings with one (of the two) additional end credits scenes in the movie. I want to see them go all out for the next one and let Whedon just go bat-shit insane with the story.
I’d say that The Avengers has kind of stolen some of The Dark Knight Rises’s thunder. After seeing this movie, Nolan’s next Batman film seems to be in the opposite direction of what I now want to see more of in superhero films. I’m still excited to see the final Batman chapter, don’t get me wrong. I think there is room for all kinds of comic book movies of varying tones and levels of realism. It’s just that now I want to see more superhero films, that not only focus on character, but astound us with with lots of color and an epic scale. I want to watch heroes of legend perform great feats and fight enormous battles. For future superhero films, the bar has been set with The Avengers.
by Ben McBride