So I watched The Avengers…
When this film came out, Marvel was in full Universe building mode. We knew that these individual heroes were going to come together and there was a feeling that something special was on the horizon. Inversely, there was also the fear that this all might fall apart under the weight of expectation. Fortunately, this movie was something special and more than lived up to its hype.
Okay, basic plot: The Earth finds itself on the brink of intergalactic war when Loki of Asgard (Tom Hiddleston) comes to Earth ready to enslave the human race. In order to curb this threat, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), director of S.H.I.E.L.D., reactivates The Avengers Initiative. A plan to call upon Earth’s mightiest heroes to come together as a team and fight battles that they could never win on their own.
I think the biggest star of this movie, the element that works best in this film is Joss Whedon at this film’s helm. Whedon both wrote and directed this movie and it’s amazing the balance that he’s able to achieve in this film’s storytelling. You have six separate superheroes with six separate motivations and stories to tell that you need to coalesce into one unified thread. Making sure that you give every individual hero enough time to have their voice heard but not have it be so loud as to drone out everyone else’s. Whedon manages to do this with a film that is perfectly paced and trimmed of any unnecessary excess.
The film actually begins with quite a bit of action but then slows down to allow for these characters to interact. In true superhero team-up style, it isn’t a smooth transition where everyone is instantly best friends and eager to get matching tattoos. There’s conflict and Joss Whedon gives you time to appreciate this because he knows that these characters aren’t just perfect symbols who swoop in to save the day, they’re complex beings with strong opinions and these need to be hashed out before any assembling can occur. It’s actually very interesting to watch this movie now, having watched all the MCU films and seeing where these characters end up because there’s plenty of foreshadowing that you’ll probably only be able to appreciate in hindsight.
Joss Whedon was this film’s conductor and he has a highly talented orchestra to work with. I’ll single out Mark Ruffalo because at this point he was the new kid on the block and we weren’t sure what to expect from his depiction of Bruce Banner and The Hulk. I think Ruffalo nailed it. His portrayal of The Hulk over the last 8 or so years has had the most complexity. Added to this the fact that Ruffalo was the first actor to play both Banner and, through motion-capture technology, The Hulk; you’re able to appreciate the internal struggle of the character in ways you never have before. I single out Ruffalo but truly everyone in this cast deserves praise, there are no weak links in this cast.
I did say earlier that this film has a patient pace in order to allow the characters to interact but as the film keeps going, its pace steadily increases reaching full velocity in The Battle of New York. As ensemble action sequences go, this is probably one of the best setpieces the MCU has offered us to date. I think the only other setpiece that rivals this is the final battle but in Endgame. There’s a great scene in this movie where our heroes are standing in a circle – ready to fight – and the camera pans over the group and each member has a moment to ‘flex’. This is the scene I think of whenever I think of this movie. That moment was the moment that cemented the Marvel Cinematic Universe for me. Seeing the original six Avengers, ready for battle…it still gives me goosebumps.
I can’t talk about this movie without mentioning Loki. He’s in the top three list of best Marvel villains. To be fair, there are only three good Marvel villains but still Loki earns his spot. He is absolutely villainous. Tom Hiddleston does a fantastic job bringing this narcissistic, sociopath to life. I was wondering if Loki would be enough of a physical threat to challenge The Avengers; but Whedon went another way and chose to make Loki more of a psychological threat which I really enjoyed.
Overall, The Avengers is one of the crown jewels of the MCU. It does a wonderful job bringing all the heroes we’ve grown to love together for the first time. It has plenty of heart and is directed by a man with clear focus and a love for these characters. It’s necessary watching. 9/10