Have you ever imagined what it would be like if the iconic superheroes shared a universe? “The Avengers” turns that fantasy into reality. “The Avengers” astounds its way through the hearts and minds of the geeks around the globe and kicks off the 2012 summer blockbuster into high gear.
Catching a flash of “The Avengers” logo and its star performers at the 2010 Comic-Con whet my appetite for a bigger treat. While DC has lagged far behind with its superheroes ensemble, “Justice League,” clearly, we’re in for something extraordinary with Marvel. A culmination of superhero movies, which started with “Iron Man,” and continued with “The Hulk,” “Thor” and “Captain America.” I was cautiously optimistic. Director Joss Whedon (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Firefly”) would attempt to go where no man has gone before and he’s pulled it off with a superhero aplomb.
Each of the main characters is unique in its own way and strong enough to carry a movie on its own, so pulling them all together, and bringing in more characters would be a gargantuan task. A lot could have gone wrong. Fortunately, a lot goes right.
Loki (Tom Hiddleston), the disturbed brother of Thor, makes his appearance past the galactic portal, steals the Tesseract, a source of infinite energy, from the S.H.I.E.LD base, an international peacekeeping agency, and leaves the ground crumble and destructions behind.
Director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), who may also have a hidden agenda to regain the cosmic cube, knows that it’s time to activate the Avengers Initiative, a remarkable team of superheroes uniting forces to save the world. It’s hard to conjure up a villain who would pose a credible threat to the Avengers, but Loki is not to be dismissed. He promises to unleash Chiaturi, an extraterrestrial army, to aid him in conquering the earth and carrying on his vengeance against Thor.
The eclectic ensemble of superheroes is made up of brilliant industrialist in armored suit, Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.); recently thawed from ice WWII all-American patriot, Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans); God of Thunder, Thor (Chris Hemsworth); Jekyll-and-Hyde scientist, Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo); superspy and assassin Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson); and master archer, Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). They all gather inside a Helicarrier, an invisible, flying fortress lifting up from the sea.
The team goes off to a rocky start. Big egos and personalities, mixed with superpowers, clash. These larger-than-life characters are used to the be the center of attention and don’t always play by the rules. The interactions among the alpha characters are the highlight of the movie. Plenty of dead-on, fantastically funny one-liners. Eventually they realize that they need to set aside their differences and work together as a team.
There are a number of memorable scenes. RDJ is still a wisecrack standout and has the coolest entrance as Iron Man, lands on the Stark Tower and unzips into Tony Stark, and later skydives back into the suit. Thor’s late appearance latching onto the aircraft amid thunders and lightning is pretty grand. Captain America takes an integral role as a leader worthy of the captain title. He’s more impressive here than in his own solo flick last summer. Black Widow showcases her combat agility by managing to escape out of an impossibly tight situation, and toward the end utilizes Cap’s shield as a springboard, leaps into the air and pursues a flying alien. Hawkeye falls down hundreds of feet, shoots an arrow, swings into a building and lands back on his feet.
If there’s a surprising scene stealer, it’s the Hulk. Ruffalo, replacing Eric Bana (2003) and Edward Norton (2008), plays the role to the hilt, both as a nerdy human and monstrous beast. There are outrageously hilarious scenes, separately involving Loki, Thor, Iron Man, and all that smashing.
As much as I’d love to see a deeper story, it’s typically reserved for a singular superhero film, “X-Men: First Class“ notwithstanding. “The Avengers” forgoes complexity for spectacle, by equally shining the spotlight on each character who serves a purpose, spectacular set pieces and special effects, amazing actions and rolling-on-the-floor humor. It’s incredible to see all of these superheroes heroically banding together in one scene. The final battle in Manhattan concludes with a selfless act from an unexpected character.
At nearly 2.5 hours, it doesn’t feel like it. And it’s originally longer. It’s been said that a lot of Captain America’s scenes ended up on the cutting floor. I’d be interested in seeing more of his scenes as initially filmed, coming to terms with his past, awakening and adjusting to the modern world. Stay past the credits for two additional scenes, the first one as a spoiler for the geeks and the second appeals to the general audience.
“The Avengers” delivers what it’s meant to do. This all-star superhero extravaganza is fun entertainment at a grand scale.
Copyright (c) 2012. Nathalia Aryani.
Nathalia Aryani is a business manager, foreign language translator, travel/lifestyle writer and film columnist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Nathalia owns a movies blog, The MovieMaven (http://sdmoviemaven.blogspot.com). Twitter: http://twitter.com/the_moviemaven