When my brother and I were kids, one of the video games we played most often was Captain America and the Avengers on the Sega Genesis.
At age 12, it never really occurred to me the game was actually based on a comic book (much like my favorite TV show at the time, X-Men), so it took me a few years (read: more than a decade) to put two and two together.
Aside from that video game, though, I paid little attention to anything in the Marvel universe that wasn’t X-Men (or even Spider-Man). It’s only been over the past few years, through the movies, that I’ve been truly introduced to the Avengers and reached the point that I was looking forward to the matchup.
I distinctly remember thinking, right around the time they announced they were doing Thor and Captain America in preparation for an Avengers movie, that this was either going to be a really good idea, or it was going to blow up in their faces.
Fortunately for moviegoers everywhere, The Avengers is a really, REALLY good idea.
I would describe the plot, but really, if you’ve seen the trailers, you have a pretty good idea of what’s going down: Loki has some plan to take over the world, and S.H.I.E.L.D.’s job is to get together a team of superheroes that can stop him.
Unfortunately, the team is made up of a bunch of very diverse personalities that don’t really play well with others. So working together goes about as well as you’d expect.
All the actors did a phenomenal job with their characters. Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., and Chris Hemsworth all reprise their roles as Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor, the Big Three. They’re just as good here as they were in their own movies, and it never feels like one of them is taking over from the others.
The relative newbies are Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, a man who constantly wrestles with the (literal) monster inside him, and Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton (better known as Hawkeye) and Scarlett Johanssen as Natasha Romanoff (better known as the Black Widow).
Plus, Samuel L. Jackson gets a lot more screentime here as Nick Fury, the director of SHIELD, and he’s easily the least annoying version of Nick Fury I’ve seen. (The guy from the ’90s Spiderman cartoon I wanted to punch in the fact.)
It sounds like it could get crazy with the number of people on the screen at any given time, but it doesn’t. Joss Whedon, as we know, is no stranger to large casts (see: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly), and he handles this one very well. Everybody gets their chance to shine, even the non-superpowered characters.
Surprisingly, there’s a great balance between the A-MAZ-ING action scenes and the quieter character-related moments. Tony Stark and Bruce Banner have a great rapport as fellow scientists, and Stark’s one of the few who doesn’t treat Banner like he’s a time bomb.
Then you have Steve Rogers and Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg), one being a living legend and the other being a fanboy of that legend. I’ve liked Coulson throughout all the other movies he’s been in, but this movie gives him a chance to be a little more multidimensional.
Thor and Loki also had some great moments, two brothers who have gone from being close to being bitter enemies. You see it the most in their first scene together, and despite how much of an asshole Loki’s been, you can see where Thor’s coming from and why he wants to believe his brother can change.
Hawkeye and Black Widow are the only two members of the Avengers who are actual SHIELD agents, and the only ones without superpowers. They’ve both done things they’re not proud of, and they go about making up for it the only way they know how.
I’ve seen some people say that their inclusion was kind of ridiculous, but I disagree. I liked seeing two (somewhat) normal people holding their own with supersoldiers and demigods and geniuses wearing armor.
Plus, the action scenes. I wasn’t kidding when I said they were amazing. From the opening escape from the S.H.I.E.L.D. base to the final showdown in New York, the visuals in this movie were outstanding. I’d had a couple of problems with the visuals in some of the more recent Marvel movies, particularly Captain America, but there were no such problems here.
If I had to nitpick, the one thing that bothered me was possibly the way Thor showed up. I had wondered how they were going to get him to Earth, and the result is…well, it wouldn’t be out of place in a comic book. So I guess it does fit. 🙂
And then, sadly, nobody actually says “Avengers assemble!”
However, Iron Man calls Hawkeye “Legolas” at one point, so I’m pretty sure they can be forgiven for that.