So, I’ve just seen The Avengers and indeed it is awesome. Maybe starts a little slow, but then someone loses his temper and from there on in it’s fantastic. Here’s my review; it contains spoilers, although I’ve kept them to a minimum as there are a few moments which you really don’t want to know about in advance. Also, I’ve chosen to review it through the medium of song…
Technically The Avengers is a sequel to most of the films Marvel has released since Iron Man, but in many ways it’s mainly tied to Thor – the lead villain is Thor’s adopted brother Loki, and the main plot McGuffin was introduced in the earlier film’s end-credit sequence. Loki’s desire for power (and Thor’s decision to use power to protect innocents) sets events into motion and leads to some nice moments where that is punctured – in one comedy moment, which is too much fun to spoil, but also in a scene in Germany, where Loki’s demands that people kneel before him is challenged by a lone, elderly man. Given that even the actions of some of the good guys are driven by a fear of power (Sam Jackson’s organisation is scared that the growing superhero population is getting too strong to contain). Thor himself doesn’t get that much to do, other than be a powerhouse who gets to beat up other powerhouses, but Thor beating up powerhouses is fun. Everyone knows that extreme property damage is one of the guilty pleasures of the comic book industry.
The Hulk gets the majority of the big-fun bits, but of all the actors, it’s Robert Downey Junior who’s the biggest scene stealer – not that you were expecting otherwise. Effortlessly poking and prodding the other characters, and generally coming across as the guy who knows he’s the smartest person in the room, he owns his scenes. It’s interesting that he gets to deliver a threat to Loki, pitching cut-glass English sarcasm against smart-ass Tony Stark. He’s not developed a whole deal, probably because there’ve already been two Iron Man films and therefore he’s the most established cast member anyway, but that doesn’t matter. No-one does the funny and charismatic thing better.
Well, no Axl, he’s not. Captain America is great in this – he’s the straight-laced one who (almost) everyone respects and loves, and while this might not sound particularly interesting, it works. As someone says, Cap may be old-fashioned, but maybe the world needs a little old-fashioned. Of all the characters, he’s probably the one genuine good and decent guy there. The film respects that – he’s the only one of the core three Avengers who doesn’t get undercut by a moment of slapstick. That’s a smart move – Thor’s Shakespearean pronouncements are crying out for a pratfall, and it’s always fun to see Iron Man suddenly paying for his cockiness, but if you mock Captain America too much, you lose the moral heart of the movie.
Well, he couldn’t, so it’s a good thing Superman isn’t in this movie. But when people tell you that the Hulk steals the show, believe them. I know that’s hard to get your head around – the Hulk has been a difficult character to translate into movies – but he’s great as a supporting character/looming threat. Kudos also to Mark Ruffalo, who makes the nervy, quiet, restrained Bruce Banner an almost-likeable character who nevertheless you want to keep at arm’s length. The ever-present idea that he could lose control and create mayhem is played with genuine menace by the other characters, especially Scarlett Johansson, to the point where the Hulk’s inevitable emergence is almost a relief. Because that’s when the smashing starts!
In short, go see it. There isn’t really a weak link in the whole thing – Hawkeye gets a little punked, but there’ll be room for him in any sequels, and while I’ve concentrated on the more showy characters, it’s worth mentioning the Black Widow’s inventive use of a chair and Agent Coulson’s baseball card collection. I’m a DC fan, and my big disappointment of the night was that there wasn’t a trailer for The Dark Knight Rises, but Marvel are knocking their movies out of the park at the moment, and anything that gives superheroes a chance to shine is fine by me.