I’m not going to bother burying the lede – I really, really enjoyed The Avengers.
As I’ve stated before, I don’t really consider myself a comic book girl. I’ve dabbled with some titles – The Walking Dead, the Scott Pilgrim series, The Watchmen and Fables – but I’ve never been a regular reader or read any of the super hero titles, which is what I think most people first think of when they think of comics. Part of the reason is that these series have been running for many years and it is hard for a newbie to know where a good place is to jump in (kind of like soap operas). DC comics recently tried to address this problem by rebooting 52 of their titles all at the same time. I’ve been planning to check a few of them out, but haven’t done so yet (though if I was forced to declare allegiance, I’m more of a Marvel girl despite my fondness for Batman).
But despite the fact I don’t know the source material, I do consider myself a comic book movie girl, especially when it comes to the super heroes. Batman, Spiderman, Green Lantern, X-men – I’ve seen them all. Doesn’t matter how obscure the character is, I’ll probably check out the movie if I know it is based on a comic. As a genre, they are generally a lot of fun and have a ton of action. And since I’m not as familiar with the stories, I’m usually more forgiving than hardcore fans when they make changes or don’t do things exactly as they did them in the comic. I have no preconceived notions. How much do I love super hero movies? I actually own Daredevil on DVD. I may be the only person who kind of enjoyed that movie. Don’t underestimate the power of Ben Affleck in tights.
The Avengers has been a long time coming. Teases for the film began showing up after the credits of the movies of the individual Avenger members, beginning with Iron Man in 2008. Of course, having no idea what the Avengers were, I was at first a little confused by what they meant. I wasn’t sure what Samuel L. Jackson had to do with anything, but the rest of the audience did and seemed very excited. The tags continued after the Hulk (the 2008 version), Iron Man 2, Thor and Captain America. With each movie I got more and more excited as I was now hip to what this was leading up to. I loved all these movies individually, so I couldn’t wait for all these characters to be thrown together.
The plot of The Avengers is pretty simple – the individual heroes need to be brought together to fight a common enemy. Thor’s brother Loki is hell bent on proving himself and has designs on destroying Earth as we know it with a little help from his army. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) knows the only hope of containing Loki is to assemble a team of individuals with exceptional powers – the aforementioned characters as well as Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson – last seen in Iron Man 2) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner – last seen in a brief cameo in Thor). However, up to now these heroes have been on their own and most of them have never met each other. Can they be convinced to come together and will they be able to work with each other? And in the case of the Hulk, can he be controlled?
The Avengers is a very fun and action packed popcorn movie. Writer/Director Joss Whedon is an admitted “fanboy” and it definitely shows in the love and care that he put into bringing the story to life. I wondered how they would be able to adequately service so many characters, but they somehow are able to give everyone their moment to shine without depriving anyone of screen time. The movie does a great job of demonstrating the difficulty in bringing so many alpha males (and one alpha female) together and the inherent personality conflicts. Let’s just say that Iron Man and Captain America do not necessarily see eye to eye in the beginning. The action scenes are riveting and make the destruction of Manhattan feel fresh and new and not like something we’ve see many times before (seriously – why can’t the aliens/terrorists/generic bad guys ever attack Miami? Give NYC a break!). The performances are all top notch and the addition of Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner (replacing the allegedly difficult to work with Edward Norton) is pretty seamless. I think I might even prefer him. As the only two characters without an origin story film (yet), I thought that they did a good job of familiarizing the audience with Black Widow and Hawkeye and not making them seem like tacked on characters. The Avengers actually made me more excited for the rumored upcoming movies featuring these characters. I’ve been a fan of Renner since his appearance on the short lived ABC show The Unusuals, so I thrilled to see him get some mainstream recognition.
While I expected thrilling action, I was pleasantly surprised at just how funny The Avengers was. Iron Man/Tony Stark has a notorious sense of humor, but I did not expect as many laugh out moments. I especially did not expect the biggest laugh line to go to Thor. The humor added another dimension to the film and made it all the more enjoyable. The Avengers is definitely a good time.
I don’t think it is necessary to have seen any of the individual character movies in order to enjoy and understand The Avengers. My companion had not seen either of the Iron Man movies or Thor and he had no problems with the character development or plotting. If you do want to check the films out before seeing The Avengers, Thor is probably the most relevant if you only had time to see one of them.
The movie is in 3-D, but if you are looking to save some cash I think the film would be just as fabulous in 2-D. I’m kind of over the whole 3-D fad and most movies, The Avengers included, just do not use the technology enough to make it worth the extra charge at the ticket booth. The special effects are great, but do not hinge on the use of 3-D.
For those of you who are so inclined, there is a tag scene after the first set of credits. I honestly wasn’t a 100% sure what it meant, but perhaps a more comic book savvy person would understand it more fully.
When the credits did roll for the movie, the audience of my screening burst into applause. And while I normally think that is kind of a dumb thing to do – the projectionist doesn’t care if you liked the movie – I couldn’t help but join in. The people leaving the screening seemed very pleased with the movie. In fact, the only person who didn’t seem particularly enamored with The Avengers was the eight year old little girl sitting next to us who promptly fell asleep as soon as the movie began. How she did so after all the candy she consumed was a mystery, but her snores could be heard over some of the more quiet moments of the movie. I guess super heroes are not her thing.
My only complaint about the screening, other than the snoring girl, was that we did not get to see the final Batman trailer that regular screenings will get to see. I had been really looking forward to that, but I’m sure it will be on-line in the near future. I am actually curious to see which super hero movie winds up dominating the summer. My money is on Batman, but The Avengers should give it some real competition.
The Avengers should satisfy the hard core fanboys but is also entertaining for those who are completely new to the comic book world. I rarely see movies twice in the theater, but I would definitely see The Avengers again (though it helps that I saw it for free the first time). I hope that that The Avengers becomes a franchise in its own right as I would sign up to see another movie featuring these characters. Summer movie season has arrived and the bar has been set pretty high.
The Avengers opens nationwide of Friday May 4th. For those of you who want to brush up on the characters before the movie, Entertainment Weekly is running a series called “The Avengers Files” which gives you the highlights of each Avenger.