REALLY Rapid Review: The Avengers
Sorry for the abbreviated review, but with teaching duties wrapping up for the year, I’ve been a bit on the lazy side on the weekends and want to focus more on fun than writing. Anyway, here goes…
Joss Whedon is at the helm for this latest Marvel adventure, and he’s the perfect choice as a fearless leader. A nerd who writes for nerds, Whedon has the wit, knowledge and understanding of superhero mythos to make The Avengers come alive on-screen. It’s a difficult challenge, but Whedon is not only the director of the film, but also the head writer, and this ensures that all flows as is necessary for the success of the story.
There are so many protagonists and so many intertwining backstories in The Avengers that it is akin to trying to manage an air control tower when trying to make all these personalities intersect and meld into a cohesive whole. Whedon wisely gives each major player the spotlight when necessary and the script plays to each lead’s talents. Robert Downey, Jr.’s witty and sarcastic Iron Man is as wry and charming as ever, while Chris Hemsworth’s Thor is appropriately noble and often lumbering when dealing with modern social cues.
The best relationships in the film are those that play on each icon’s inevitable Achilles’ heels. The banter between Downey’s Iron Man and Chris Evans’ stalwart and vibrant Captain America is a prime example; paired together these two heroes exemplify the clash between the old and the new in terms of both technology and rapidly changing world views. They have a sharp and interesting contrast that helps move the plot and the dynamic in new directions.
Mark Ruffalo’s portrayal of the cursed yet brutally powerful Hulk/Bruce Banner is the best I’ve seen in the recent gamut of films. He manages to make the character menacing and erudite at the same time, which is no small feat. Iron Man also has some buddy time moments with the human version of the green giant, and Ruffalo and Downey work well together. I think this basically proves that Tony Stark would be the Avenger most of us would want to hang out with, if only for one night (eventually, being constantly compared to a rich handsome dude with an unlimited supply of toys would probably get a little grating).
The main villain is Thor’s wayward brother, the petulant and scheming Loki (Tom Hiddleston), who is determined to rule the world one green-eyed smirk at a time. He’s planning on using the powers of the Tesseract (the elusive glowing cube from the Thor and Captain America films) to harness an army, and all this planning and hinting boils down to the usual baddie plan of taking over the universe with super-powered minions. This is all because daddy liked Thor better, of course.
The basic tenets of the plot are pretty generic superhero stuff (big bad guy, end of the world, banding together to save the planet), but the writing and the acting by all the leads makes the ride plenty interesting and worth the price of admission.
I admit, I probably need a second viewing of the film if only because much of the last 30 minutes was a little over-stimulating. There was so much going on visually that I got a little lost regarding which blur of a superhero was accomplishing what.
As the sum of its parts, Whedon’s film is a worthy successor to the recent string of Marvel hits, taking all the characters and their various quirks/strengths and melding them into a fun and satisfying adventure. As always, make sure that you stay through the credits for some hints as to what’s coming next in the Marvelverse.
Overall Grade: A –