Wednesday, May 2, 2012

And Hulk...SMASH: A Review of Avengers

Director: Joss Whedon

Starring: Robert Downey, Jr. Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston & Samuel L. Jackson

I wonder when Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created the first Avengers comic in the early 1960s, if they had any idea that one day their characters would be featured in a massive feature film that is projected to make hundreds of millions of dollars. Or that some of the world’s biggest movie stars would don the guises of their creations. I doubt they did but fortunately for Stan Lee, he has been able to see his creations one the silver screen. But because Jack Kirby didn't, he passing away in 1994, I've decided to sprinkle this review with artwork from the original comic Avengers #4 (March 1964) which featured Captain America joining the team. Kirby drew this book and is consired a legend in the comic medium and because of this I'm happy to give him the praise he deserves -- including this opportunity. 
Iron Man and Thor in Marvel's Avengers #4 (March 1964)
But let’s get on to the film. I will not be spoiling here, so if you've seen the trailer you should be fine.
WOW. Just wow. It’s a fantastic movie! And while I know I've been a little too easy on some films in the past (see my Green Lantern review -- what was I thinking?!?) this one deserves to be called fantastic and really is worthy of the hype its received. With regard to the characters and actors: as enemies go Loki (Tom Hiddleston) was a good in his role as the Machiavellian leader/puppet of the alien invaders and other stars including Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), and Jeremy Renner (Clint Barton/Hawkeye) were great, with special praise going to Renner who, along with the prop department, was able to take an ancient yet potentially mundane weapon (bow and arrow) and turned it into the realistic tool of a top secret agent. Chris Evans contiues to make a good 'Greatest Generation' Captain America and Scarlett Johansson (Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow) was the strong female lead this testosterone charged film needed. But of the all-star cast, Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner) and Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark) stole the show.  Ruffalo because he played the conflicted genius that is Bruce Banner so well and Downing Jr. because he is Tony Stark and was all of the sardonic, playboy brainiac we've come to know and love over the course of this superhero film franchise.
From Marvel's Avengers #4 (March 1964)
But as we all know a film cannot live on acting alone – it also requires decent plot cohesion that can be difficult when there is so much back story to cover. But in this case it worked. It may have seemed slightly crowded at the beginning of the film, but by the middle act, when everything was going south for the Avengers, you see the team start coming together and are already hungry for the sequel. By the final battle scene where Captain America takes command, you really get the sense it's working. Iron Man and Thor remain themselves yet accept orders from the Captain and in the Hulk we we get to see why comic books have been written about how he's one of the most the powerful characters in the Marvel Universe. Indeed, the scene where Captain America gives the orders in my mind captured the essence of the film perfectly and still counts as only the second best in the film. The top honour goes to the final scene when we get to see what's in store for us next time. That scene had me smiling and fist-pumping all the way home. 
Captain America getting back in Avengers #4 (March 1964)
So there you go: a short, gushing exam-time review of Avengers. All in all, it was great escapist fare for both Fanboys and laypersons alike. Those of us who know comics and their back stories will really enjoy it (especially the final scene!) but if you’re bringing along a girlfriend, sibling, friend or parent they’ll enjoy the action, drama and humour too. Oh, and comics fans, if I haven`t already made this clear: stay in your seats! The final scene has everything you`ve been hoping for.

4.5/5 Stars

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