Share |
Marvel's The Avengers (2012)
DIRECTOR: Joss Whedon
SCREENWRITER: Joss Whedon
MUSIC BY: Alan Silvestri
STUDIO: Walt Disney Pictures
RELEASE DATE: May 4, 2012
MPAA RATING: PG-13
Comic Book Franchises, Unite!

Written by Chris Pandolfi

Marvelís The Avengers is the eagerly awaited convergence of the Marvel Studios superhero films, starting in 2008 with Iron Man and ending last summer with Captain America: The First Avenger. While it may not be appreciated or understood by those who have not seen the earlier films, and although it relies more on spectacle and less on plot, itís nevertheless a fun and exciting action extravaganza Ė a comic book film in every sense. Having recently co-written and produced the highly overrated horror spoof The Cabin in the Woods, writer/director Joss Whedon delivers an entertaining escapist fantasy thatís just as funny as it is pulse-pounding. He also gives us plenty of eye candy, only some of which is enhanced by the filmís presentation in post-conversion 3D.

I have no baggage attached to the various characters or the comic books from which they came, so any potential observations or complaints that this movie is not faithful to its source material will fall on deaf ears. All I can respond to are the stories as they appeared on the big screen. Despite various writers, directors, and stylistic approaches, Iíve been pleased with the results. Even Thor, generally the least liked of the intertwined series, had just enough to earn my seal of approval. The standard was set with Iron Man, which remains the best of the Marvel series and still ranks as one of the greatest superhero films ever made. I think I was right in not expecting The Avengers to top it; it allowed me to enjoy the film for what it is and not for what it should be.

The plot revolves around the teaming of Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), a recently unfrozen Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), Dr. Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo, the third actor to assume the role in the last ten years), the thunder god Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and the skilled archer Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) under the supervision of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), the director of a covert government organization known as S.H.I.E.L.D. Essentially, they must save the world from Thorís evil adoptive brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), who plots to subjugate humanity by opening a wormhole and unleashing ruthless alien warriors. To achieve this goal, he must recapture a glowing blue cube known as the Tesseract, a powerful but potentially deadly energy source.

The rest is pretty much just window dressing. We have plenty comic book peril and violence; thereís hand-to-hand combat and laser blasts, exploding air freighters and smashing Hulks, hammering Thors and the devastation of Manhattan, which is essentially the go-to city for glorious destruction. We have floating monstrosities that look like giant eels clad in armor. We have numerous references to the previous Marvel films, including appearances by Gwyneth Paltrow, Clark Gregg, and Stellan SkarsgŚrd (alas, Natalie Portman makes it in only as a portrait on a computer screen). We have mutual distrust amongst the Avengers and Furyís hidden agenda. We have Loki acting like an arrogant dictator, forcing a large crowd of people to kneel before him. And yes, we even have a cameo appearance by Stan Lee.

Whedon has never been a master of dialogue, although his flippant style is perfectly suited for the Tony Stark character, who has always possessed a biting wit and a natural superiority complex. The rest of the characters sound a bit goofy, although I guess that was the intention. Consider Greggís character, Agent Phil Coulson; when he finally meets Steve Rogers in person, he drops his aloof mystique and becomes an excited fanboy eager to have his collection of Captain America trading cards autographed. This movie proves that visuals have always been Whedonís strong suit. In the case of The Avengers, he uses them to evoke not only excitement but also a sense of humor; some of the funniest sight gags are reserved for the Incredible Hulk, who truly is only good for smashing things.

Movies like Marvelís The Avengers are a unique marketing opportunity Ė a franchise assembled from other franchises that will itself inevitably spawn a new franchise. This is not a criticism, merely an observation. As long as Iím being entertained, it doesnít matter to me how much a product is packaged, even if it comes within an inch of its life. I was very much entertained. Having said that, I canít help but wonder how much mileage this series has left. Can five separate films and one convergence adequately serve as the basis for an Avengers sequel? Will the original five inspire any sequels of their own? Story wise, I find myself growing wary. The last thing I want is for all the fun to stop. One of the quickest ways to make that happen is to allow franchises to overstay their welcome.


Share |




A Less Pulpy Comic Book Sequel
Read More!
Is She the Bad Person She Claims to Be?
Read More!
Who Am I Speaking to Right Now?
Read More!
He Can Crack Safes, But Can He Redeem Himself?
Read More!
Aronofsky's Take on a Biblical Story
Read More!
Every Bit as Unwatchable as Its Predecessor
Read More!
Who Says a Sequel Is Never Quite as Good?
Read More!
The Start of a Sexual Odyssey
Read More!
When No Explanations Suffice
Read More!
An Affront to Human Intelligence
Read More!
Baum's Vision Gets Urbanized
Read More!
A Camp Horror Movie, Minus the Camp
Read More!
A Dizzying Whirlwind of Conflict
Read More!
Cormanís Horticultural Farce
Read More!
What Lies Waiting Beyond That Corridor?
Read More!
Chris Pandolfi makes his picks for The Best Films of 2012. See his full list of favorite films right here!
Read More!
Chris Pandolfi makes his picks for The Worst Films of 2012. See the full list of dispicable films right hereÖ
Read More!
Chris Pandolfi Talks with the Author of Enemies, A Love Story
Read More!
San Diego's Biggest Convention as Seen Through the Eyes of The Massie Twins
Read More!
The reasoning behind my review of Act of Valor, supporting our troops, and the meaning of real patriotism
Read More!