The build up to Marvel’s The Avengers been coming for several years. Marvel has made it known for sometime that all of the heroes who’ve starred in their own individual films (minus Spiderman) will team up in one colossal mashup to rule them all. While the majority of those films have been good if not great (Iron Man, Thor, Captain America) the Hulk films were only okay. I guess the biggest question about The Avengers was: “Could it be done well?”
When Marvel announced the selection of Joss Whedon to helm The Avenger’s, geeks everywhere rejoiced. Those who know Whedon know him well. Whedon, a multi-talented geeks geek, has written for comics, web-series, TV and film. He’s probably best known as the creator of the hit TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. He’s also the creator of the short lived series Firefly and Dollhouse. Firefly is considered by many as one of the best TV series to ever suffer a premature death. Firefly only lasted 14 episodes but the outcry from fans was so huge that Whedon convinced Universal to hand over $40mil to wrap up the series in a feature film tilted “Serenity”. Released in 2005 “Serenity” was not a box-office smash but it garnered good reviews from both critics and fans alike, most importantly it showed that Whedon had the chops to helm action/adventure on the big screen.
There’s an energy source of unknown potential known as the Tesseract (last seen in Captain America). The Tesseract is stolen from S.H.I.E.L.D. by Thor’s brother Loki (last seen plunging to his death in Thor). Loki wants to use the Tesseract to open a portal which will allow him to transport an army of Chitauri (an alien race on a mission to conquer the galaxy) to earth in order to subjugate it’s citizens. Nick Fury, the director of S.H.I.E.L.D., re-activates The Avengers Initiative to assemble Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, the Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye to stop Loki and the Chitauri. With a clash of egos and braun this proves to be a difficult task.
A film with four main heros and a handful of secondaries could easily collapse under it’s own weight. Somehow, Whedon is able to juggle the massive cast without strain and serves an excellent mix of action with smaller character moments (which well serves Whedon’s flair for dialogue). Superhero films are all about tone (if the tone is off by being overly serious or not serious enough the film will seem “cheesy” or “overwrought”.) Whedon strikes the perfect tone with The Avenger’s. I’m sure having a stellar cast immensely helps in this regard. The cast has good chemistry and the story does a great job of giving every character ample time; even secondary characters like Agent Coulson get more than just a scene. That doesn’t mean one character isn’t focused on more than the others.
In many ways The Avenger’s feels a bit like “Iron Man 3 featuring All My Rowdy Friends“. It’s understandable considering Robert Downey Jr. is the biggest star and the Iron Man movies have been the most popular of the bunch. With his excellent delivery of snarky banter and the majority of the best one liners, Robert Downey Jr. continues to revel in a role he has mastered and steals the show; at least until the Hulk shows up. With one simple order of “Smash!” the monster within is let loose in all his green rage glory and unlike the other Hulk adventures is given a whole playground (Manhattan) of baddies to destroy. Fortunately by the time the massive Smackdown (which every fan knows is coming) culminates in the last third of the film the setup has been handled so well that the endless fighting is not just a bore. Oh, and what a colossal, and often humorous, battle it is!
The Bottom Line:
Despite the odds, Whedon and team deftly created a multi-hero mashup that lives up to the hype, they probably should’ve just titled it “The Avenger’s: Hell Yeah!“
Rated PG-13: In theaters now.
ps – Be sure to stay until both sets of credits have rolled.