Wait, what the shit?
There. That’s better.
I’ve read from others who have criticized the last few Marvel films for simply being advertisements for The Avengers, which, quite frankly, is a point that’s hard to argue against. The previous movies have been feature-length bits of exposition whose purpose is to get the plot set-up and character development out of the way so that they can focus on their true goal: a super-hero mash-up. Marvel always wanted to make an Avengers movie and we all wanted to see one, but they can’t just jump into it — we know that. So we’ve been patiently watching their “commercials” and waiting for the day when the “real film” comes along. So now that it’s here, is The Avengers worth the 4 years of set-up?
Short answer: yes. Long answer: very much so.
Before I fully get into this review, I should explain my mindset going into The Avengers. I’ve enjoyed all of the Marvel films leading up to this one (in order: Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America), but then again, I like comics. Sure, they change the mythology for the films and my inner-nerd will get mad from time to time at what they’ve done, but it’s difficult to fault Marvel with the niche that they carved for themselves. Structure problems aside, the films are entertaining summer blockbusters. They don’t challenge you, but they don’t mean to. They’re competently-made, fun movies filled with action and humor — a formula that Iron Man and its filmmakers started and the other Marvel films continued. Honestly, I’ll take Marvel’s “passably competent” films over what is considered a “blockbuster” nowadays.
So that brings us to The Avengers. Without visiting Spoiler Town (population: SECRET), the plot revolves around the Tesseract (the Cosmic Cube to us comic book nerds), the blue, glowing power cube from Captain America. Loki, the Asgardian villain from Thor, comes to Earth in search of the cosmic relic for a nefarious purpose. After an altercation between Loki and Nick Fury (head of the secret organization S.H.I.E.L.D.), the one-eyed spy turns to super-powered heroes to help him stop the “god of mischief” from potentially destroying the world. Hijinks and [redacted for spoilers] ensue.
To carry the mantle for this film, they got Joss Whedon, who knows his way around comic lore and ensemble pieces. I wouldn’t consider myself a Joss Whedon fan (I’ve only watched a couple episodes of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series and haven’t followed him much in recent years), but I’m sold with how he handled this film. All of the characters stay true to what has been established in previous films and they all have equal time to do their thing. Everyone is given a dramatic moment where they interact with another member of the team and they all shine through with comic interludes and witty dialog. (Believe it or not, the Hulk has one of the funniest moments of the film. No, seriously.) It’s almost insane how well the characters are handled. Those five previous Marvel films are so well represented and expanded that The Avengers truly does feel like it is simultaneously a sequel to five separate films, which I would’ve thought to be impossible.
While the run time is extremely long, it’s paced well enough that you don’t really feel it, even if your ass does. Then again, a two-and-a-half hour running time is to be expected with modern “blockbusters.”
Overall, the film is a helluva lot of fun. My only complaint would be more for the people who are going into this without any prior knowledge of the previous film canon. I’m speaking on their behalf even though I’m not one who can relate, but I would imagine it would be hard to keep track of everything without grounding first. But for anyone who has seen the five previous Marvel films mentioned earlier, this is required viewing — no ifs, ands or buts. It’s not even a question. Go watch it. For comic book fans, there might be a few nerd-rage inducing moments with how it runs fast and loose with the lore, but there’s enough awesome fan-service that you’ll find it hard to complain. For anyone who just wants to see a fun-filled action film with more funny moments than you’d expect from these types of films, again, just go watch it. Honestly, this film and those like it are the reason why we even have a term “summer blockbuster.”
Just be sure to stay through the credits… ALL the way through the credits.
Every time I think about the Hulk in this movie, I smile ear to ear.