As a lifelong fan of comic books, I had quite a few reservations about how The Avengers was going to turn out: Was Robert Downey Jr going to be portrayed as the primary character? Was Hawkeye (my all-time fave Avenger) going to be merely a supporting member? How would they use the Hulk? How would Mark Ruffalo compare to Ed Norton? How much action is Nick Fury going to get in on? Is the pace going to be ridiculous?
One thing I was certain about: when they announced Joss Whedon as the film’s director, I knew it was going to stay pretty clear above the water.
To my relief, the film took its time to establish everyone as equal members of the team. They found ways to isolate the characters in twos, threes, or alone, to show us their developing dynamics. I particularly enjoyed Black Widow’s interrogation scene, and the one where Stark and Banner were sizing each other up in their lab aboard the SHIELD aircraft. Without room to introduce Hawkeye to an audience that has already seen what the other members can do in their respective films, I thought it was a clever plot device to have him under Loki’s control for the first half of the movie, killing two birds with one arrow.
The action was brilliant. From the scuffle between Iron Man, Thor and Captain America to the team’s defense of New York City, we were not left wanting from any of the physical displays. Quite the contrary, they were infused with masterfully comical dialogue, tastefully giving us more entertainment than we could’ve asked for.
This flick owes everything it is to Mr Whedon. Having already been a fan of his work in Firefly and some comic books he’s contributed to, as well really enjoying a bunch of the films he’s written (Toy Story, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Speed, Waterworld, Titan A.E.), I was elated at his appointment in this one. Marvel Studios wouldn’t have allowed The Avengers to be a letdown after the great buildup across its previous efforts, but Whedon’s long-standing genius with scriptwriting, impeccable comic timing and genuine respect for the comic franchise has given this movie a soul that would’ve been unprecedented with any other director. It seems like he knew all the strengths and weaknesses of his cast and played them up to perfection.
Acting-wise, above the talents of the whole cast, it was Robert Downey Jr, Tom Hiddleston and Mark Ruffalo who stood out by a mile. It’s as if Downey and Hiddleston were simply told to be themselves when reading lines, and Ruffalo – we’re never going to see him the same way again, are we? He nailed it, everything; no matter how superbly Norton played Banner in his last movie, it’s all been forgotten after this one.
There are just 3 things I am dissatisfied with in The Avengers, and perhaps I express them more as a fanboy than as a film critic: 1) Hawkeye sure could’ve used a more colourful costume 2) I’m not sure I can get used to looking at Nick Fury and not imagining him screaming about snakes on planes, or quoting bible verses before committing murder, or wearing a purple fedora hat 3) If The Hulk was established as being uncontrollable, why was he so cooperative in the final battle? Yes he’s swayed between aggression and self-control in the comics, but that’s over longer periods of time and under different storylines; isn’t it a bit far-fetched that he could work as part of the team so well in this movie?
Nonetheless, this has clearly been one of the best – if not the best – Marvel comics films that’ve been released thus far.
Director: Joss Whedon
Producer: Kevin Feige
Screenwriter: Joss Whedon
Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders, Stellan Skarsgard, Samuel L Jackson