Due to an illness in the family, I’ve been much of the week away from my studio. I hope to have a video review prepared in the coming days.
The Avengers is a juggling act, drawing heroes from across the Marvel Comics universe. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), join Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and his S.H.I.E.L.D team to defend New York from Loki, the god of lies and mischief. Never before had a film been alluded toward in four movies.
The expansive 143 minute runtime packs plenty of action punch with set pieces so grand it defies logic how they can be quickly brushed aside. There’s an underground facility that gets blown, a flying aircraft carrier that gets sieged, and the ubiquitous romp in New York City. Any one of these could function as the climatic showcase of a lesser film.
There’s also a lot of dull therapy to be dished out. Everyone has an issue with the next guy. Some are more understandable than others. Take Tony Stark for example, whose mouth is as much a weapon as his suit. Scholars will appreciate a subplot analogy that paints the USA as Iran, developing our weapons of mass destruction to defend against a perceived threat.
Considering that neither Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) nor Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) have a stand-alone films series, it’s understandable that they get the bulk of emotional development—or rather Hawkeye aids Black Widow. The loose star of the show is Iron Man, getting the reward of having his entire support staff in attendance. Speaking of staff, all of a sudden Fury has a new sidekick named Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders). He already has agent Colston (Clark Gregg) and in Iron Man 2 Black Widow filled this void. I challenge anyone to show how agent Hill is a necessary character. Everything she does could/should have been accomplished by Black Widow or resulted in one more baddie for Fury to shoot.
Director Joss Whedon makes for a hotbed of geekdom street cred—enough to name a day in his honor. Largely a television creator, Whedon’s last feature helmed as a director was the 2005 space western Serenity, a wrap for the grossly underestimated series Firefly. Whedon’s comical, yet serious, trademark shines through. Of course smart aleck Tony Stark makes use of his time, but the best laugh comes from the Hulk’s tremendous lack of patience. There are also some unprofessional gags aboard their floating base, and let’s face it when a movie incorporates gods on Earth, along with the aforementioned, there needs to be a funny bone. I’ll go out on a limb and declare the unreleased The Dark Knight Rises as 2012’s dramatic comic book film. Unfortunate for The Avengers the abuse gods like Thor and Loki take doesn’t mesh with the sci-fi aided characters.
Loki has a plan to bring war to Earth and it’s not too dissimilar to Megatron’s seen in Transformers: Dark of the Moon only a year ago. The plot is not as super as the heroes, never leaving the audience guessing or twisting in the wind from confusion.
My chief concern for The Avengers revolved around the lack of superpowers found in some members. So what if Hawkeye is good with a bow and Black Widow is flexible? Captain America’s scalp barely breaches the threshold for this ride. What should have raised eyebrows further is the lack of villains. These franchise players are pulled together to fight Thor’s adopted brother, whom he defeated by himself last summer. Most of the Avengers take on busy work like bashing aliens, the stand-in for the fodder ninjas of the ‘80s. It’s too bad these super heroes don’t have a super story. **½