Movie review – The Avengers
– by Ryan Ingram
Joss Whedon has concocted a nearly perfect blockbuster superhero popcorn flick with The Avengers. But that’s not totally fair, because there’s never been a superhero movie quite like The Avengers.
The seeds of the long-gestating blockbuster go back to 2008’s Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk with the post-credit appearances of Nick Fury – which in turn snaked into a (sometimes distracting) subplot involving the covert-spy agency S.H.I.E.L.D. that burrowed through Iron Man 2, as well as last year’s Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger.
But ever since Samuel L. Jackson‘s first appearance as Nick Fury, Marvel has been calculating an ambitious mega-blockbuster that would finally assemble Marvel’s biggest heroes on the same screen. And it’s no small feat that The Avengers is expertly crafted to handle the anticipated fan-pressure. More impressively, The Avengers works for anyone that doesn’t know Hawkeye from Hawkman.
A Norse god, an eccentric billionaire with a fancy suit of armour, an ageless war hero and a green rage-monster shouldn’t make sense in the same world. But Whedon introduces and brings them together seamlessly, plucking each character from their respective worlds – from Iron Man’s hi-tech penthouse to Captain America’s dusty, old-timey gym – and placing them on the Helicarrier, the team’s Enterprise-turned-explosive-setpiece. It’s here that Whedon gets to truly play with toy chest of heroes, defining each character as he bounces them off each other with interesting results: the super-spy Black Widows faces off against the brooding trickster god Loki. The egocentric billionaire scientist Tony Stark prods the mind of the egoless, paranoid could-be monster Bruce Banner. The warrior god Thor butts heads with the super-soldier Captain America.
The two-and-a-half hour spectacle follows the superhero origin story structure almost religiously, but there’s enough action, humour, heart and Hulk-smashing that it all still feels fresh. By the time the third act ramps up, it’s near impossible to not fall under the spell of the epic superhero carnage unfolding, as the assembled heroes protect the world against a massive army of invaders.
There isn’t a weak link in The Avengers , and everyone gets their time to shine – even when they’re matched against Robert Downey Jr.‘s smirking magnetism. Even Clark Gregg‘s Agent Coulson, whose appearance started to become tiresome in the Marvel movies, is a necessary part of The Avengers equation, playing the everyman who gets to rub shoulders with gods, living legends and brilliant billionaires.
But for all the star-power in the movie, it’s the CGI Hulk that steals the show, and gives The Avengers the explosive kick it needs to be a true blockbuster. The primal rage of a single Hulk ripping apart planes, jumping off skyscrapers and pulverizing people into the ground has more personality than a million Michael Bay Transformers, or any other heartless blockbuster.