Directed by: Joss Whedon
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson
As one of the most highly anticipated theatrical releases of the past five years, The Avengers assuredly sits comfortably among the discernible elite, what with Marvel churning out each singular effort year after year in preparation for the ultimate collaborative, big-budget extravaganza. I personally have been hesitant toward ackowledging the success of this particular production, what with several A-List talents sharing a considerable amount of screen time only to result in colossal clash of egos that could ultimately result in its downfall. Thanks to writer/director Whedon’s adroitness in crafting such a well-rounded powerhouse of a superhero flick, my doubts quickly flew straight out the window as traditional comic book lore meshes seamlessly with a script chock full of personality and eye-popping action set pieces.
Agree or disagree, there’s a certain amount of favoritism that plays a vital part in each viewer’s perception of an Avenger’s stand-alone mythos, meaning a majority of those in question probably favor Downey Jr.’s uber-charismatic Tony Stark over Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, plain and simple (sorry, Thor fans). Watching these individuals unite for the sake of restoring order to the world that needs their help however is an entirely different story, and a pretty remarkable one at that. Of course there’s the predictable clash of the heroes’ egos, personalities and ideologies that make them who they are; it’s probably one of the film’s strongest suits, only when haphazardly assembled as a result of restoring the previously defunct Avengers Initiative, watching the gang play off of one another becomes worth the price of admission alone.
Perfect chemistry runs rampant as wisecracks are met with cracking bones and petty arguments that eventually segue into the quintessential battle to save Planet Earth. In sticking with Thor’s brother Loki as the central villain, the rogue Asgardian has allied with alien race the Chitauri in exchange for the Tesseract: a cube of, you guessed it, unimaginable power. With said power comes the intention of establishing world domination, of which the Chitauri have agreed to aid Loki in achieving in exchange for the Cosmic Cube itself.
Meticulously crafted action sequences permeate the film’s more appealing latter half, forgoing the rather hit-or-miss slow burn that exists prior to the Chitauri invasion in favor of showcasing each Avenger’s strongest suits at regular intervals. While unavoidably absent here and there, these individuals are all given the chance to steal a part of the show, proving to us that Whedon knew how difficult an undertaking this was from the get-go and how precisely to approach the Avengers’ origins story in a fully serviceable fashion. Warranted, effective jabs at humor also result in sporadic giggle fits as the script continued to impress despite its obvious shortcomings, assuring us that the spirit of one of Marvel’s more widely lauded franchises is captured quite beautifully within a barely noticeable two hours and twenty-three minutes.
Excellent performances across the board are what obviously carry The Avengers in addition to the more frenetic, pulse-pounding occurrences, ensuring us that each individual has embodied their respective characters almost perfectly, newcomer/late addition Ruffalo included as the not-so-quietly conflicted Dr. Bruce Banner. While the rather lengthy build-up prior to what most of you would consider “the good stuff” could prove tiresome to those not inherently interested in the grand scheme of things, The Avengers as a whole is just too good a film to bash on account of a bloated run time. It’s undeniably engaging from start to finish, and while at its core a Marvel film through-and-through, it’ll be hard to view future entries in each of the Avenger’s respective franchises without likening them to such a grandiose, well-handled piece of pure escapism and faithful comic book intricacies.