The Avengers (2012)


What Joss Whedon has done is quite spectacular. He’s managed to take what could have been a complete clusterfuck of a movie and compacted every single hero and their mythos within two and a half hours, while also being able to introduce new heroes we can root for in the process. “The Avengers” is a true accomplishment of not only studio ambition but comic book cinema, a true masterpiece of the fantasy genre that piles together Marvel’s greatest heroes for a film many comic book fans have dreamed of having for decades. “The Avengers” incidentally is one of the many variations of Akira Kurosawa’s unparalleled masterpiece “Seven Samurai.” In “The Avengers” much like Kurosawa’s masterpiece, a thuggish villain rears his ugly head prepared to take down a land of innocent people for their own selfish purposes. Only when seven mismatched and unique heroes join forces and put aside their egos to defend the land does the villain meet his match. Ultimately while “The Avengers” is in fact an ambitious project that’s been planned from the get go, the film feels very meticulously crafted.

This lends it authenticity as a comic book movie where every character is allowed to shine and have their moment on film where they can display their own skills and allow their niche fan base a time to cheer. To help that benefit, every cast member feels so carefully picked out and chosen for their roles that it’s astonishing that they not only resemble their source characters, but can pull in some incredible performances simultaneously. “The Avengers” is not just an event blockbuster movie, it’s also a film for fans of the comic books who have dreamt of seeing Earth’s Mightiest Heroes since they first picked up a comic book. Under director Joss Whedon’s guidance, the ensemble cast is given a chance to shine in their performances, and Whedon thankfully is skilled in handling multiple characters and plot threads. Characters like Captain America, Black Widow, Thor, and Iron Man are handled well as they have their own established franchises; Downey Jr. is as entertaining as Tony Stark as ever, Chris Evans embodies the Captain’s persona, Scarlet Johannson perfects the warrior woman mold well, and Chris Hemsworth is wonderful as Thor.

Whedon sets up the framework for The Hulk and Clint Barton (aka Hawkeye), both of whom have foot work to accomplish in establishing their characters, personalities, and allegiances. Jeremy Renner is ideal as the character Hawkeye, a soldier whose own tale of redemption by the climax is compelling and leads to some admirable moments where he’s able to avenge his own invasion of body and soul while defending his teammates. Jeremy Renner really fits in to the character mold beautifully as he’s possessed by Loki and becomes an unwitting menace to the Avengers. Meanwhile new cast member Mark Ruffalo is reserved and quite fantastic as the new Bruce Banner forming a humble and meek demeanor that undermines his brilliance and ensuing rage. Ruffalo has big shoes to fill after Eric Bana and Edward Norton and manages to craft Banner as his own character who tries to remain as passive as possible until forced in to the war for Earth. Concurrently, the big green machine is given the spotlight in some of the finest moments in “The Avengers” as the film resurrects the character as a true warrior capable of bringing down any behemoth he comes face to face with. Whedon has a lot of balls to juggle with “The Avengers” and fans will be pleased that their favorite characters are allowed moments of pure thrills that show us why they’re considered heroes to their fan base.

Nick Fury, Agent Coulson, Maria Hill, they’re all in for the ride. What’s most important though is the story and Whedon brings it in spades with humor, heart, tragedy, and excitement. I thought the best moments in “The Avengers” were the character based ones where we were capable of getting intimate with the characters and learn their weaknesses. Sure the action is a big draw for literally everyone, but the moments of characterization really sucked me in, and Whedon is a master at crafting complex characters in a time crunch. “The Avengers” is first and foremost a blockbuster roller coaster ride intended for broad audiences, but deep down it’s a fan boy’s dream, a pure fantasy manifested in to an epic action adventure film that does justice to the source material and allows fan boys to sit back and bask in their beloved characters. “The Avengers” is a film for all audiences destined for immortality as one of the great ensemble films ever made. It’s an action packed, exciting, and incredible event for movie goers while conveying the pure essence of the Marvel Comics property perfectly, respecting the source material and using it as a platform to stir the imaginations of viewers everywhere. As a hardcore comic geek I could not have been happier with the results. ‘Nuff said.