Marvel’s The Avengers (Theatrical Review)

theavengersAmazing. Really, I’m not sure all the words I will be typing here are necessary. I don’t know that any more needs to be said beyond that this movie is amazing. Haven’t seen it? Go see it. Have seen it? Might want to see it again. Of course, I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. I will say that this movie has set a very high bar for the following summer action movies– especially the upcoming comic book movies– to follow. “The Avengers [Assemble]” also manages to do some justice for a character that desperately needed it. Unfortunately it would be rather difficult to get into a meaty review without hitting on at least some mild, if not major spoilers. So once more, here’s the spoiler-free version:

This movie is amazing. Go see it.



The first thing I should note about the story is that this movie tends to assume you’ve seen the Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man movies. It swiftly hits on elements introduced in those movies: Loki, the Tesseract, and S.H.I.E.L.D., respectively. Also “The Avenegers” spends very little time introducing the heroes, especially those it feels you should be most familiar with (the title characters from those movies). So, it’s best if you’ve seen those movies beforehand.

That said, the movie does an excellent job balancing everything. The pacing is very solid. The action scenes are fast– though not so fast as to be chaotic and confusing– and perfectly punctuated, and the expository or character-driven scenes are introduced smoothly without slamming on the movie’s brakes. The handful of sub-plots are even carried so well that they hardly feel like sub-plots. The history between Black Widow and Hawkeye is woven into the plot in such a way that it does not feel at all tacked on (as I was worried it would).

The main focus of the story is itself twofold– the invasion/attack on Earth by Loki and his army, and the formation of The Avengers. Neither of these reach their ‘pay off’ until well into the movie, which I believe was a fantastic decision. It makes the movie much more… believable? that it takes time for these to reach fruition. Specifically the choice to have most of the movie focus on Loki enabling the invading forces to reach Earth meant that the movie didn’t spend all of it’s time in over-the-top fighting, and that Loki actually got to win some. In fact Loki outmaneuvers Our Heroes for a good chunk of the movie, even pulling off a bit of a Xanatos Gambit, which makes him a much more convincing villain. Thus giving even more weight to the Heroes eventual big battle.

Holding off the ‘formation’ of The Avengers also helps the movie. They spend time showing how the various characters interact and that they don’t exactly get along. This builds up the relationships between them and makes the formation much more them actually coming together as a team, rather than just a bunch of heroes working together against a common foe. Speaking of which…


“The Avengers” actually manages to put each member of it’s ensemble cast on equal footing. This, if nothing else, is a testament to how great a director Joss Whedon can be. The actors also all turn in wonderful performances, with Tom Hiddleston doing an amazing job with a more maniacal and a bit mirthful Loki, Mark Ruffalo giving us the best Bruce Banner/The Hulk to date, and Jeremy Renner turning in a stunning Clint Barton/Hawkeye– especially considering his rather small introduction in Thor. Not to diminish any of the other actors, Robert Downey, Jr. is Tony Stark, and Cobie Smulders is great as the newly introduced Maria Hill. Really, every performance in this movie is spot-on, from Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury down to the SHIELD Agent playing Galaga on the bridge of the Helicarrier.

Each [main] character has a few ‘shining moment’s, illustrating that they can all hold their own. A few of my personal favorites were Hawkeye firing off arrows at enemy forces while simultaneously giving tactical advice to the rest of the team, Captain America shielding a massive hammer-strike from Thor, Stark trying to get Banner to turn into The Hulk (and work at Stark Ind.), and pretty much every scene with Banner/Hulk. Mind you, I’m not all that big a fan of The Hulk or Captain America.

There’s actually a bit of debating going on amongst the fans as to “who stole the show”. The biggest contenders being Robert Downey, Jr’s Tony Stark/Iron Man– and let’s be honest, part of the Stark character is that he’s a ‘show stealer’– and Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner/The Hulk. The latter, no doubt, because he has some absolutely fantastic scenes. I’d actually rather not spoil them, because I think you just have to see them to get the full impact, and if you’ve seen the movie I’m sure you know which scenes I’m talking about.


“The Avengers” looks and sounds wonderful. Being a movie about some rather iconic Marvel superheroes, costume design is pretty important. Remember those odd leather uniforms from the X-Men movies? Yeah, there’s nothing like that here. All the costumes look right, the only real deviation being Hawkeye (and they still didn’t stick him in some black leather crime-against-the-comics with H’s all over it). But first I want to touch on the SHIELD uniforms. I think this is the first time we’ve seen SHIELD Agents, in uniform, on screen. They did a great job. The uniforms are certainly recognizable to any Marvel fans, and they don’t look at all silly or out of place. The only change seems to be more muted colors (of course I haven’t read a Marvel comic with SHIELD in it for quite some time, so this could be the modern look).

This does, for me anyway, bring up the question of why they never have Nick Fury in a SHIELD uniform. I mean, I know Samuel L. Jacksons’ Fury is supposed to be the Ultimate-verse Fury, but all the other heroes seem to be more their classic/mainstream/616 versions. I think it would have been cool to see Fury in a SHIELD uniform like his classic counterpart, even if just for this movie– where he’s commanding the Helicarrier’s crew and not in a situation where plain clothes would be more fitting. It’s not like he couldn’t keep The Coat.

Anyway, back to the Avengers’ costumes. Captain America gets a new one– obviously– and it’s perfect. It clearly evokes the imagery of the classic/most well known Cap costume, while still feeling very modern. I’d say Cap and Thor probably have my favorite costumes in this movie. Thor’s also touches on the most well known look of his comic character, offering an interesting, if slight, change from the one in his self-titled movie. Tony Stark also gets yet another new Iron Man armor in this movie, which kind of caught me by surprise. I know it’s become something of a trend in the Iron Man movies to have him swap to a new model every time his armor gets scratched, but this is Avengers, not Iron Man. He also goes back to the more common circle reactor icon instead of the triangle/diamond.

Black Widow also gets a small update with the fantastic addition of a Black Widow symbol belt buckle. Back to Hawkeye… I don’t actually remember if he appeared in a costume or just tactical equipment in Thor. Hawkeye’s costume is, as I mentioned, the biggest departure from the comics. I can sort of understand this, the more bright-colored/flamboyant costumes tend to get ‘nerfed’ in the movies (I’m looking at you, Magneto). Really though, his costume could have used a bit more purple, I mean it’s not like his costume is neon pink or something, what’s so emasculating about purple? Isn’t it Samuel L. Jackson’s favorite color? Other than that it’s pretty good though.

Hulk is, not surprisingly, a big ol’ mass of CG. And yet, he looks great too. I don’t know if it’s just that CG has come so far since the Ang Lee Hulk movie or just a testiment to how bad that movie’s Hulk was, but wow. He’s just the right color to look like the big green gamma monster without looking terribly fake. The skin texture is especially impressive. And all the CG is up to that quality. The Helicarrier? Awesome. Invading armies? Epic. Special effects? Fantastic. I actually cannot think of a point, off the top of my head, where I could clearly tell if they were using pure CG and no physical props/effects.

The music and sound effects were also great. I can’t really recall the music too much– I imagine that will be much easier when I review the Home Release. Some of the sound effects do stand out to me though. Such as the sound of Thor’s hammer impacting Cap’s shield, a Helicarrier engine being manually rebooted, and The Hulk. All of which sounded perfect. Nothing came off as odd or out of place, which is exactly how I like it.

Final Thoughts

Go see this movie. It’s amazing. I wholeheartedly believe this to be the best comic book super-hero movie to date. Yes, I’d say it’s better than The Dark Knight, or at least a better representation of comic books. Now, I’ve decided not to get into comparing the movie to the comics, not yet anyway, but I do want to emphasize that this movie gets it right. I’m not talking about the little details, but the overall attitude and feel. “The Avengers” does an excellent job representing it’s heroes, villains, camaraderie, and conflict. It is also the first movie to really show us a world of super-heroes– something that has been commonplace in the comics for a long time. It’s also worth noting that the movie doesn’t feel over-the-top or silly, it is fully believable within it’s universe, and unlike The Dark Knight it doesn’t have to be dark and gritty to do so. (Of course, Batman should be dark and gritty, but there seems to be a sentiment that such is the only way to make a hit super-hero movie.)

Now, I saw the movie in 3D, which is something I don’t normally do. I’m not a big 3D person, I do think it’s enjoyable when done very well, but otherwise it bothers me. Also it tends to give me a headache. So I was pleasantly surprised when this movie turned out to not only have really good 3D, but it did not give me a headache. It still took a bit for me to ‘adjust’ to the 3D, so for the previews and very beginning of the movie I was seeing ‘shadows’, but once I did it was great. There where some scenes with the more ‘explosive’ pop-out type 3D effects, but most of it was the more subtle 3D, which I like. I’m currently hoping to see the movie again in IMAX 3D.

Obviously this movie is getting a sequel– don’t forget to stick around for at least the mid-credit scene! So I figured I’d mention my hopes for the series future. Now, a lot of people want Antman and Wasp… I’m not one of them. I think their powers (shrinking mostly) would look pretty stupid in a live-action movie and Antman is such a horrible human being he makes Stark look like a Saint. I would love to see Spider-Man and maybe Wolverine, though the latter would bring a lot of continuity baggage to the series. Unfortunately it seems licensing issues will prevent that from happening. So that brings me to my biggest hopefuls for inclusion: Spider-Woman, Black Panther, and Ms. Marvel.

Spider-Woman and Ms. Marvel would bring some more women to the team (and I’m pretty sure there has yet to be a successful movie starring a female super). On top of that Spider-Woman (the Jessica Drew one) is a pretty big character in the Marvel universe, playing a major part in at least the Secret Invasion storyline. Black Panther would be a great addition to the team for several reasons, though he does bring some continuity baggage. Let’s be honest though, there is a distinct lack of awesome black/African super-heroes, especially in the movies (Westley Snipes’ Blade was fantastic), and Black Panther would fill that void nicely. Back to Ms. Marvel, she’s a strong, no-nonsense military woman whose powers could let her tangle with The Hulk (she’s also a personal favorite of mine). I also really want to see the Kree-Skrull war come to Earth, which would be a great way to introduce Ms. Marvel (and Captain Marvel).

In closing, it’s a great movie, and I can’t wait to see where the franchise goes next. Go see it.

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