Movie Review: The Avengers

written by David Steffen

I’ve been a fan of Marvel Comics and their various media productions for a long time. The most recent of their movie productions is “The Avengers.” As far as I know it’s unique in taking several other recent successful Marvel title superhero movies and combining them with the same actors into a single movie. Robert Downey Jr. as Ironman, Chris Evans as Captain America, and Chris Hemsworth as Thor, each of which had held the title role in a recent Marvel movie.

I’ve gotten behind on my Marvel movies in the last few years. I saw Iron Man, but not Thor or Captain America (I think it’s weird that Chris Evans plays both Captain America and Johnny Storm, but I digress), so even though I was aware of these other movies, I hadn’t seen these other characters in action until now.

The movie begins as Thor’s brother Loki crosses into our world with the intent to lead an army of warriors from another dimension to enslave the Earth. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) calls on the disparate group of superheroes codenamed the Avengers to battle this menace. The group has yet to be formed at that point, but the group put together is made up of Iron Man, Black Widow, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, and Captain America. The group has been chosen for their power, not for their teamwork, which becomes clear very early on as squabbles ensue regarding who is making the decisions. But as Loki’s war looms ever larger, they have to find a way to work together to stop this dire threat to Earth.

A fair warning: this is a long movie. 143 minutes long. But that’s to be expected for a movie based around a group of 5 title characters played by big budget actors. To really make a movie based around the whole group, each character has to have some time spent on their character arc, in a way that allows them all to combine into the major plot arc. This was a difficult balance to strike, but I think they did it admirably well. Never did I feel that one of the characters was hogging the screentime, and each character got his chance at scenes that revolved around them, as well as scenes that involved lots of quick fighting and/or dialogue between them and other members of the team.

The plot was reasonably good. Was it corny at times? Sure, I mean its based around a team that includes a Norse God and an over-patriotic 1940s superhero battling space aliens, so a bit of corniness is a given. But the makers of the movie took these strange and disparate, apparently clashing elements, and made them into a cohesive action-packed riproaring good time of a movie. The interactions between these different powerhouse superhumans are one of the best parts, especially Iron Man’s cynical self-reverence onscreen with Captain America’s “ask what you can do for your country” attitude. Tony Stark/Iron Man still gets the best clever lines, and Downey pulls them off wonderfully.

THE best part, though (and this surprised me) was watching the Incredible Hulk smash… well, pretty much whatever gets in his way. I’m surprised because I would’ve expected to prefer something less predictable and more intellectual. I mean, it’s no mystery that the Hulk can pretty much smash anything and is apparently impervious to everything, so where’s the tension? Maybe that’s a way in which movies can have a different kind of appeal that written work. I didn’t feel any tension about the Hulk because I knew he’d survive and I knew he’d wreck a lot of stuff in the process, but the sheer spectacle of his fighting was like watching a natural disaster, inevitable destruction after which all you can do is try to clean up. If they’d filled a whole movie with that I probably would’ve gotten bored (I haven’t seen the Eric Bana and Edward Norton Hulk movies of the last ten years) but it was paced very well so that the Hulk only came out a few times but he stole the stage every time he did.

I’d recommend this movie for any comic fan, action fan, anyone who just wants a good riproaring time.