G3 Review: The Avengers

If and when DC/Warner Bros. finally gets around to making a Justice League movie, it might want to take some notes from across the aisle. Not all of the Marvel movies have been homeruns, but as the first two X-Men movies and X-Men: First Class proved, it is very possible to make a highly satisfying superhero ensemble film. The Avengers is one of them.

Writer-director Joss Whedon swung for the fences, and the result is a consistently fun, exciting action movie that makes the most of a strong cast. The Avengers doesn’t just throw a bunch of comic book characters onto the screen and then blow stuff up real good. Whedon takes care in defining the players and showing how they come together to execute their first mission.

The objective is to take down that villainous Asgardian diva, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), who pays S.H.I.E.L.D. an unwelcome visit to steal the Tesseract. The glowing cube is central to his plot to rule humanity via alien invasion, and Nick Fury, played by the stoically cool Samuel L. Jackson, knows he’s going to need more than one big gun to stop him. One by one, the future Avengers begin assembling, but it’s a bumpy ride.

Could it be otherwise? Powerful people have big egos and generally are not given to compromise, so Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) are not going to un-puff their chests to work toward a collegial solution. At least not at first. Not everyone is wild about taking on the job, either. Most reluctant is Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), whose priority is keeping his raging inner Hulk at bay. Formidable as the heroes’ combined power is, prickly relationships threaten to undermine the cause.

Killer action sequences and impressive special effects? Check. More importantly, The Avengers is driven by top-shelf performances. No one will be surprised that Downey has some of the movie’s best one-liners and that he nails them. Chris Evans remains earnest as Captain America, but the strain of adjusting to life in a new century is apparent. Hiddleston, with his dazzling but scary smile, is perfectly haughty and petulant. Hemsworth gets to show that the mighty Thor has an unexpected, deadpan sense of humor.

The newcomers are no slouches, either. What a relief that Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow shines as a highly skilled combatant with a sharp mind, not stereotypical eye candy. Mark Ruffalo does a particularly outstanding job, playing Banner as a scarred man who is calm but subtly dangerous. I wish Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye had a little more to do, and there are a few head-scratchers — most notably a decision to leave Loki unattended (!) during what amounts to a hero hissy fit.

Though it clocks in at two hours and 22 minutes, The Avengers doesn’t have the bloated, indulgent feel of many blockbusters. It’s so well paced and frequently witty that the time flies. Let’s hope this inspires something of similar quality from the other member of the Big Two.

P.S.: Sit tight after the credits roll. There are treats. Grade: A-

9 thoughts on “G3 Review: The Avengers

  1. I thought it was an excellent movie. The best review was “A comic book brought to life” (besdies yours, of course) and that’s just what it was. Joss proved he knows how to handle people individually as well as groups. One of the more subtle things that I liked was not only did he provide moments for ALL of the stars but he made sure the police, the National Guard and civilians were involved. Just a fantastic effort and it is all there on the screen

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  2. Took my girlies to see the film opening night. It was a TREAT… I was thrilled that Scarlett didn’t come off as “eye candy” as you so aptly put it… she is a good strong character… I really really liked the subtle tributes to the comic stories throughout! Girlies (my daughters) already want to see again! I love your review and thank you for all you do!!!

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  3. Ok, I can tell where your allegiances lie here, Erika. You start a review about the Avengers–the planet’s biggest super hero blockbuster ever–with a note about a Justice League Movie. Really?

    First off, ALL of Marvel studio’s movies have been home runs–those include both Iron Man movies, Thor, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk (The Hulk is NOT acknowledged) and the Avengers. The X-Men, Fantastic Four and Spider-Man movies were done by Sony & FOX, who purchased exclusive rights to them when Marvel was near bankruptcy. In English, Marvel was only an adviser to most of those train wrecks as most of the screenplays were written by Hollywood people NOT comic people.

    Griping aside, your review is good, though I notice you make another nod at a DC/JL effort in the end again. I want to see a Justice League done on the order of the Avengers as well but DC has put in neither the time, passion, nor the resources to make such a thing happen. Lets not forget Marvel put ALL their intellectual properties up for collateral to secure the funds to make these movies. Let’s give props were they’re due.

    The Avengers should be revered as the success it is and not as a prod for other comic publishers who don’t have the nads to do what it took to make big-screen gold. Make mine Marvel!

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    • Hi, Arth. I don’t think it’s a matter of Marvel vs. DC. I love good superhero movies, period, and Marvel’s track record is so strong that I want to see DC step up and do the same. (No DC references in my X-Men: First Class or Captain America reviews … I think!) However, I’m glad we both agree that The Avengers was awesome, and thanks for taking the time to read and respond. I’ll be seeing it again soon.

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      • I did not come away with the impression you were pushing a JL movie. One of my favorite comic book movies is Hellboy. I would love to see a JL movie as well but DC is so far behind. Once again I feel the problem is who owns DC, a movie company and they have had some Oscar success with Batman so, I believe they think they can make Oscar worthy movies of all of the big three. You don’t think Joss can write WW? They rejected his script (and I admit I have not seen it) so he went to make Avengers and took WW with him. I had read he favored Colbie as WW. Just my 2 cents.

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        • Love the intel, Ray! Just to be crystal clear (cause we’re all fans here, thus all on the same side), I think a Joss Whedon Justice League effort would be INSANE! IN fact I will go one step further and state that ALL future hero films should use the Avengers–the writing, the humor, SFX, the collaboration–as the new benchmark for how these movies are handled. While not all comic stories can be this comical or have the same visual execution, the passion and attention to detail can applied to all. This only helps our beloved genre!

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