By nature, superheroes are larger than life. The same is quite true for the movie adaptation of what is arguably Marvel’s biggest claim to fame: “The Avengers.” By setting up for this movie since the 2008 premiere of “Iron Man,” Marvel has slowly built a background through their many movies over the past few years.
Marvel’s “The Avengers” combines Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) with supersoldier Captain America (Chris Evans), demigod Thor (Chris Hemsworth), The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), assassins Black Widow (Scarlett Johanson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). They are brought together by the head of SHIELD, a mysterious government agency, as part of the Avengers Initiative which was created to, as Fury so blatantly puts it, “save the world.”
The team must overcome their differences so that they can work together to defeat the demigod Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Thor’s half brother who has turned evil since he was banished from Asgard.
The movie is both written and directed by Joss Whedon, who is already a common name in geekdom as creator, writer and director of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Firefly” and “Serenity.” Whedon manages to balance the action with the rest of the plot, giving each of the main characters an individual one-on-one fight scene with Loki as well as having a big full team shindig in the middle of New York City (which is thankfully accomplished without straying too far into Michael Bay territory.)
However, despite the well done and amazingly unconfusing fight sequences, the real power of “Avengers” lies in the interactions between the team members themselves.
Whedon is often recognized for writing good team dynamics, but in “The Avengers” this goes from good to great. Whedon artfully manages to balance the strong personalities of all the characters while also giving them his own twist. “The Avengers” is truly the culmination of the Marvel franchise because it brings together characters who prior to this have only had their own separate, smaller franchise.
While the writing is what primarily allows the characters to all stay true to their portrayals in their individual movies (Tony’s still a snarky playboy, Cap is the out-of-his-time hero, Thor’s the comic relief), the acting firmly supports it. Mark Ruffalo’s portrayal of Dr. Bruce Banner (AKA the Hulk) fits seamlessly with the other characters even though he is replacing Edward Norton, and the true introduction of new characters, such as Hawkeye, adds a lot to the team dynamic without adding more confusion.
All of the actors manage to capture the Avengers dynamic perfectly and while all the interactions between the team is what allows “The Avengers” to stand out within the franchises, the dialogue and banter between them is what far outshines any of the previous Marvel installations.
“The Avengers” is not a one-on-one fight against an embodiment of evil, in fact, it’s not even really a movie about good versus evil at all. It’s a movie about a team of people–people who are all fundamentally human (even if they happen to be Norse gods). Just like how the super serum that’s injected into scrawny Steve Rogers to turn him into the iconic Captain America served to highlight his personality traits as much as his physical characteristics, being forced into a team only serves to emphasize the characters humanity.
Even though, overall, “The Avengers” is basically any geek’s dream come true (mine included), it does have its weak points. One of these was the sometimes sloppy CGI for Iron Man and Captain America in otherwise well choreographed fight scenes. The other was Jackson’s fairly weak Nick Fury and the portrayal of SHIELD in general.
While there were individual SHIELD agents who helped craft an idea of what goes on within SHIELD (namely Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders)), the viewer never gets a clear view of the mysterious organization. It functions as a large plot device in the movie, as well as in the original comic books, but the movie does a poor job of explaining its role and “The Avengers” don’t seem as much of a part of SHIELD as one might expect.
Although lacking in a few areas, Marvel’s “The Avengers” manages to rise to new heights within the world of comic book adaptations. Marvel plans on continuing the franchise with sequels to both “Captain America” and “Thor,” along with “Iron Man 3.”