I am a total Whedonite so I will try not to spout my love for Joss too much, but some of that will leak thru.
Movie: The Avengers
Released: April 25, 2012
Director: Joss Whedon
Writers: Joss Whedon, Zak Penn
Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders, Stellan Skarsguard, Samuel L. Jackson
All the movies have led to this one, it is a big build up and it does not disappoint. The prior films set up big personalities with their own big issues so bringing them together is a big feat, but luckily this is something Joss Whedon has done before. All of his prior shows have been about a group of people coming together to form a family that may fight with each other, but they will also fight for each other. Everyone knows that the people you fight with the most is your family. It sounds cheesy, but on film it works. Whedon also brought back the snarky humor mixed with the action that made the first Iron Man so enjoyable. The other movies had some humor mixed in, but it didn’t have the same magic Jon Favreau and Downey managed to create. The second the movie gets tense or sad, the moment is undercut by a joke or wisecrack. Stark and Thor start to fight, Stark asks if he is doing Shakespeare in the park giving a nice wink and nudge to Kenneth Branagh’s inspiration for Thor. Or Stark calling Loki Reindeer Games, Hawkeye Legolas, and Thor Point Break. Or in the middle of the big battle, Hulk takes a moment to punch Thor as payback for the fight they had on the helicarrier. Or Steve Rodgers happy moment when he gets the Wizard of Oz reference. I’ll stop, it is just too much fun remembering all the good moments.
Most of the plot was set up in Thor and Captain America so we get to action quickly with Loki and his plan for taking over the world and quick glimpses into what our heroes have been up to in the time between movies. I was a little disappointed Jeremy Renner and Hawkeye were again misused. Yes we get to see Hawkeye’s capabilities as a fighter this time, but he is nothing more than a puppet for Loki for most of the movie. I wasn’t really all that disappointed Edward Norton was not returning as Banner. He is a good actor, but Banner is not a character that can only be played by one man really well, hence his replacement by Ruffalo. He succeeds in the role much in the same way Norton did. Ruffalo looks like a mild-mannered guy for the most part, but he does get the dark look in his eye. When Banner shouts at Romanov to see at what she does, you see the mischief and anger in the moment, but you don’t see the loss of control. It is great that on the helicarrier, Stark is the only one willing to address the big green elephant in the room and test the control of Banner.
There is also a bit of character development for some of our heroes for future sequels. The most obvious one is Stark realizing he is willing to take the figurative bullet when everything is on the line. Something I don’t think he knew he was capable of until the moment came. Steve Rodgers is still a saint, but he has also seen the new world and is despondent over how we have changed. The methods our government took to “end” the war with Japan and the further slippage of our morality since that horrible decision have made Rodgers realized that he may have died for no reason. We also see Stark and Banner plant the seeds of doubt into Rodgers about S.H.I.E.L.D. and Nick Fury that will come back to haunt him later when he goes to work for them. It sets the stage for the Captain America sequel nicely. Thor has grown up some, he is still a bit short tempered; but he does not see fighting as the best and only action. He pleads with Loki (to the point of ridiculousness) to remember they are brothers and to come home with him instead of just beating him to a pulp like he would have in the first movie. There are glimpses of the connection Black Widow and Hawkeye have that I think will pay off in Ultron.
Seeing (not telling) Coulson, Stark, and Potts have kept in contact and developed a relationship off screen, seeing him re-bond with Thor and bond with Rodgers should have tipped me off to his fate (this is a part of Joss’s MO), and made Coulson’s death later in the movie more poignant. It reminds me of a joke a friend of mine told me, “Steven Moffat, George R.R. Martin, and Joss Whedon walk into a bar, and everyone you love die.” Morbid I know, but true. A moment was needed for these heroes to ban together and be focused on one thing and Fury (the ultimate manipulator) goes to extreme lengths to make sure they are focused on Loki.
The end speech by Fury to the World Council about how we will have the Avengers and they will come when we need them is a great promise to end the movie on, but hearing that makes me think about escalation. In Batman Begins, Detective Gordon brings up the problem of escalation of force from the bad guys when it comes to cops stepping up the methods of fighting crime. It poses the question of where is the line the good guys can’t cross in order to stay good and the Batman trilogy shows us the escalation and how it turns good men into monsters. There is a show of escalation in The Winter Soldier (more on that later), but I’m wondering how this will spiral out of control and turn some of our good heroes bad, or against one another.
I am going to confess, I had no clue who the guy was at the mid-credits scene. I had to look him up and I got to read about Thanos and the Infinity Stones, which everyone correctly figured the Tesseract is one and would be the next “who” and “what” for Phase 2. Well they were not all correct. Thanos and the Infinity Stones are a minor plot line that goes throughout Phase 2 and will be the main deal thru Phase 3.
What did you think of The Avengers? Did you know that it was Thanos at the end of the movie? Next up Iron Man 3! Till next time fellow dwellers in Nerdom.
To read UberApe’s review of The Avengers click here