Marvel’s “The Avengers,” written and directed by Joss Whedon, is kind of begrudgingly good. Not good in the sense of having a clear and defined antagonist or rational plot points—but made almost enjoyable by the committed performances of some of our favorite actors (Mark Ruffalo fans stand up!) as well as smart, snappy dialogue courtesy of the “Buffy” and “Firefly” creator himself.
I was apprehensive about reviewing this movie, since my last experience with cinematic comic-book cardboard candy (“Captain America: The First Avenger”) was so awful.
However, Whedon may prove to be the greatest hero of them all for breathing life into this somewhat stale genre.
Characters from across the Marvel universe come together to save the world from an unlikely combo of aliens and Norse demi-god, Loki (Tom Hiddleston).
Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) marshals all of our favorites for the defense: Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Bruce Banner/The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and Captain American himself, Steve Rodgers (Chris Evans). The group is rounded out by Scarlett Johansson’s martial arts mercenary Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, Jeremy Renner’s bow-and-arrow expert Clint Barton/Hawkeye, and Colbie Smulders (Robin, of “How I Met Your Mother” fame) as S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Maria Hill.
The performances are compelling, and the group dynamic is infectious. The characters we’re so familiar with really come to life with Whedon’s script. Even Captain America, who I thought couldn’t be any duller, was fun to watch.
Lost in a cloud of twee pop culture references that obviously fly over his head, Whedon cleverly ends the running gag with a character mentioning “Wizard of Oz’s” “flying monkeys.” Finally, something he gets!
Though pleasantly surprised, there were still some elements of the film that just didn’t work. Our heroes spend an awful lot of time fighting with each other, though it’s clear they all have the same goals and common enemies. These fight scenes—especially an extended scene where Thor, Iron Man, & Captain America fight each other, while Loki watches—felt like a waste to me.
Additionally, much of the movie is spent with the characters fretting over Bruce Banner’s destructive alter ego (he’s gone over a year without an “incident” in this film). Is he going to lose his temper? Does he put them all at risk? It’s explicitly explained multiple times that he cannot control what he does when he’s The Hulk.
Scarlett Johansson’s even gets quite the workout defending herself from his smashing fists. Yet in the final battle sequence, Banner curiously displays control over his reckless alter ego as he fights alongside the team at will.
Despite a handful of critiques, this was the most fun I’ve had watching a comic book adaptation in quite some time.
With some of today’s best actors embodying the most iconic characters of the 20th century, all while delivering perfectly-timed comedic zingers, “Marvel’s The Avengers” has made me reconsider what I thought was once a lost-cause genre.[divider] The Avengers opens today in theaters everywhere, click here for theaters and showtimes.