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Here’s a tough one to figure out: What do you get when you combine the superheroes Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America all in the same feature film?
Answer… “The Avengers,” duh! The Walt Disney Company has been marketing this conglomerate of Marvel superheroes heavily for more than a year now, and you’ve more than likely heard about all the hype behind it. Let it be said that the hype is rightfully placed – this is probably the best big-budget, light-hearted superhero film we’ve been exposed to since Marvel’s very own 2008 film “Iron Man” – a superhero that is a member of the Avengers himself!
In short, exiled Norse god Loki (from another universe, Thor's brother) arrives at a hidden S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division) base to steal the Tesseract, a strange blue box that contains a massive amount of energy that could potentially provide green energy for the whole world. Nick Fury (played by Samuel L. Jackson), the director of S.H.I.E.L.D., witnesses this attack and decides to go through with rounding up those all-powerful people he tried to with his dismissed Avengers Initiative in order to get the Tesseract back from Loki and save the world.
By the mid-way point of the film, Fury has assembled his own S.H.I.E.L.D. members Natasha aka the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) – both void of actual superpowers – and actual superheroes Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Captain America (Chris Evans). It’s like the first two innings of the MLB all-star game where each player swings for the fences like they’re chasing Barry Bonds’ home run record - and you totally wish that each player got 2-3 more at-bats.
However, Downey’s routinely condescending dialogue works surprisingly well in small doses, considering he’s sharing screen time with everybody and their mother who has been a big action name in Hollywood over the last five years. He’s sort of the main character, but Scarlett Johansson steals the show. Her body just looks way too good in a tight black spy suit to not scrounge up the majority of your attention in the nearly two and a half hour film, and she just looks... wickedly fucking hot wielding a gun.
Perhaps the best performance of all is Mark Ruffalo as The Incredible Hulk. He is the only superhero with superpowers that wasn’t in a feature film released in the last five years (as Ed Norton tried – and failed – playing The Incredible Hulk back in 2008), so he is a fresh face to the viewers playing the character with an eerie sense of calamity while still giving off a feeling of monstrosity. Jeremy Renner, though, is another new character without a movie that is completely out of place. Holding his archery kit, he looks like an abandoned Legolas from “Lord Of The Rings.” I couldn’t help but laugh and think every time the Hawkeye character came to the screen that all the other Avengers said to him in scenes not shown that, although he never starred in a Marvel movie, he was still like a brother to them - just like he was with Doug MacRay.
Joss Whedon’s feature film directorial debut is exactly what you would expect “The Avengers” to be: A CGI-infested multigenerational superhero comedy that keeps its pace because of the abundance of comedic one-liners by the recognizable action stars. It’s like a Michael Bay “Transformers” movie meets any of the Marvel comic movies of the last five years. It should be noted that Whedon, who wrote the screenplay for the movie too, also co-wrote this year’s “Cabin In The Woods” (read my review for that here). They’re both genre films with a comedic sense of sarcasm, proving Whedon is certainly an auteur and further exciting me for anything else he writes or directs.
In the end, though, “The Avengers” just isn’t anything worth going batshit insane about. It’s good nonetheless due to its rather fresh sequences of action and of course the talent of the cast. It's already risen above its production budget in revenue and might even break a few records, so you're probably going to need to see it in order to be in the know. We can definitely say that this film-filled summer started on a pretty positive note after the release of this today.
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