Even though I saw this movie three days after it opened, I felt like it might as well have been three weeks after its release. Last summer, there were four superhero movies and I saw every one of them on their opening day, first show of the day. Unfortunately, this just wasn’t possible with The Avengers, but considering that it made over $200 million in three days, I don’t think Marvel really noticed my missing $10. Also, with all the money it made, I don’t really feel like I need to go over the WHOLE plot for you guys because it feels like everyone has already seen it. Instead, just like I did with Iron Man 2, it’s going to be much easier to just go over how well I think each character/actor did in this movie, and that’ll also be a lot more fun for me. Before I do, I suppose I can just briefly say that Loki, as made famous in Thor, also made famous by just being Thor’s brother, uses the “Tesseract”, which all comic book fans should recognize as the Cosmic Cube, to teleport an intergalactic army to destroy the world. In retaliation, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, the Hulk, Hawkeye, and Black Widow are called together to fight the impending galactic war. Brief enough? Now I get to talk about everybody!
Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man
Maybe it’s RDJ’s public personality that gets me kind of annoyed with him and the fact that he is kind of full of himself, but considering his financial and critical success has warranted him being a tad “bragadocious”. I was also nervous that the whole movie would focus on him, considering he’s already got two Iron Man movies under his belt and I always associate Captain America as the leading Avenger. Even though I had these reservations, I was glad to see that Tony Stark didn’t have much more screen time than anyone else, and considering he didn’t have to burden the weight of the whole film on his shoulders, he was able to be a more comical Tony Stark than we’d already seen. Lots of one-liners, jabs at other characters, and an overall tendency to downplay the seriousness of a situation. Steve Rogers even called him out on the fact that he was self-centered and narcissistic, which made me nervous that there’d be a scene where Steve Rogers would have to say some “You really are a hero!” bullshit, but we were spared. Even though Iron Man was a key part of defeating the aliens, nobody made a big deal out of it, which really fits in with the Tony Stark I know. That despite no matter how many successes he might have, he’s still kind of an egotistical prick and nobody wants to pay him ANY compliments.
Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America
I love Captain America. Call me old-fashioned for loving America, and I’ll call you a goddamned Communist. What I love about his character is that he ALWAYS knows what is right, and does everything in his power to stand up for it. Whether it was in the Civil War storyline where he had to allow himself to be arrested or sacrificing himself at the end of Captain America: The First Avenger, he knows what to do and doesn’t hesitate. One scene in particular near the end of the film, despite not being the most powerful member of the team, he told everyone exactly what to do and exactly when to do it, and everyone fell into rank. They knew that this guy had fought evil incarnate in World War II and trust him with everything. Whether he was breaking up a fight between Thor and Iron Man or jumping across the helicarrier to literally SMACK a grenade out of the air to protect Stark, Cap really proved that he’s more than just a science experiment. I also stand by my opinion that Chris Evans is handsome enough and funny enough to put him into any superhero outfit and do a great job.
Chris Hemsworth as Thor
Remember how I mentioned that the Thor movie really only served as a stepping stone to build up to The Avengers? Boy howdy, was I right. Even though Thor wasn’t the best superhero movie last summer, it introduced you to a regal character who lives in a world completely removed from and much more vast than anything us humans on Earth could even wrap our heads around. He proves himself not only wise in the way he tries to handle Loki and his desire to merely take him back to Asgard, but also showed how powerful and essentially God-like when he knocks Hulk on his ass with one punch or summons lightning to vaporize and shit ton of aliens. I’d say that in films, just like in the comics, Thor works much better as a supporting cast member than as a the major player. He could basically solve everything problem with a giant hammer and some lightning.
Tom Hiddleston as Loki
You might have found Loki to be a quivering, whining prick in Thor, so imagine how big of a douchebag he got after floating around the universe with nothing but the thought of vengeance in mind? They were able to play up the “God of Mischief” aspect much more in this movie as we saw how easy it was for him to manipulate humans, rather than in Thor and he was just playing tricks on his brother. We were able to see how cowardly he was and knew he wasn’t nearly as powerful as any one of the Avengers and had to call on someone else’s army to fight for him. He strategically manipulated every character to feed off of one another’s insecurities, and even though he wasn’t physically some sort of powerhouse, you could see how annoying he could be to deal with. Hiddleston was also showing some vulnerability as an adopted son who never received the love of his father, and even though you knew he was the villain, had a tiny bit of sympathy for his situation.
Mark Ruffalo as Dr. Bruce Banner/the Hulk
This was the part of the movie I was most worried about, considering that after two movies based on Hulk, there’s yet to be a successful incarnation of him on film. The thing about this character that people want to see most is actually what’s easiest to put on the big screen, which is a big green monster destroying everything. The more interesting parts of the character are figuring out how he deals with this timebomb that’s inside of him and the effect it had on his psychological state. Luckily, through the nature of this being an ensemble film, Dr. Banner was only used in small doses, mostly to show off his level of intelligence. There were a few scenes between Dr. Banner and Tony Stark that were really fun to watch, because they both felt like they had found an intellectual peer and playmate. When Dr. Banner left and Hulk showed up, obviously it was fucking awesome. HE SMASHED EVERYTHING. I went get into everything he smashed, but the smashing scenes were fun. I also kept doing double-takes when a character said “Banner” because I thought our dog might be in the theater.
Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow
I made a pretty bold claim with Iron Man 2 which was that Scarlett Johansson was a good choice to play Black Widow AND that she was one of the best parts of that movie, but most people thought I was just distracted by her tits. I suppose there might be a little truth to that, but just because she was good in this role doesn’t mean I think she’s a good actress. In fact, I think she’s not a good actress and every other movie I’ve seen her in she just seems distant and emotionally apathetic to everything going on around her. Luckily, while portraying a Russian assassin and spy, having an outward appearance of not giving a shit about anything or being emotionally involved in anything going on, things work out pretty well. Granted, in this movie, she had a few moments that seemed a little too superhuman and far-fetched in regards to her abilities, but it was really only one sequence so I can forgive her. Mostly because of, well, you know, boobs.
Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye
Having only really appeared as a silhouette in Thor and having no other film appearances, Hawkeye was obviously going to be a tough sell as an Avenger. Rather than try to give him a long backstory, we instead spend most of the film seeing Barton as a villain who is having his mind controlled by Loki. One reason I really liked them doing this was that it removed the need for a backstory because all you saw was Hawkeye being a badass with a bow and arrow and showing of a multitude of different trick arrows. Another reason I liked this was because in the Marvel Universe, Hawkeye was introduced as a villain. He might have only been a villain for three issues before joining the Avengers, but still, it’s something that’s constantly referenced in the books and I think that using him as a villain for the first half of the movie not only showed you his abilities, but also made you enjoy the heroic things he was doing that much more. Two things I didn’t like, however, was the fact that the mind control he was under was undone by Black Widow just punching him a whole bunch, and I figured Loki’s spells would be a little more powerful. I also think that Hawkeye should have been played by Alan Alda, but I guess Jeremy Renner was an acceptable substitute.
Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury
Although I thought his cameo in Iron Man was pretty cool, the other times this incarnation of Nick Fury haven’t been as faithful to the character as I had liked. Granted, that basically means I didn’t really care for his scenes in Iron Man 2, but Samuel L. Jackson is a character on his own. He has a reputation of coming across like a badass, but also being really funny, talented, and can deliver these badass lines or insults while adding a smirk to the end of them to let you know he’s just fucking with you. The Nick Fury I wanted to see wasn’t a jokester or anything other than a grizzled war veteran who has gone to Hell and back to ensure the safety of the country he so loves to defend. It’s almost like he has the heart of Captain America but with the skills of Black Widow. Well, maybe not the bazongas of Black Widow, but the covert spy stuff. Lucky for me, they toned down Fury’s interactions with the team so you knew he was the one in charge and wasn’t taking shit from anybody. There was also a scene that involved him motivating the team by showing them something taken out of a dead agent’s coat, but once the team leaves, another character pointed out that they weren’t actually in his coat, but in the agent’s locker. This showed that Fury was willing to do anything and everything to get the reaction from people that he knew had to be sparked in them, even if that meant lying to them. His role in this film definitely made up for the doubts I had going into it.
Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson
Someone who was introduced a few years ago to plant the seed of what S.H.I.E.L.D was and where all these Marvel movies were going, Agent Coulson has become a loved character to many fans. Even though he is typically only in Marvel movies delivering half a dozen lines, those lines are well-timed with great delivery by Gregg, even giving Robert Downey Jr. a run for his money in a few scenes. We got that sense from Coulson again in Avengers, and adding in the obsession that a S.H.I.E.L.D agent would clearly have for Captain America, the fanboy moments between Coulson and Steve Rogers were really charming and endearing. And congratulations to Mr. Gregg for having the character take a permanent seat in the Marvel Universe in not just films, but being introduced into the comics as well!
Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill
If there’s one show I hate hearing people tell me is funny, it’s The Big Bang Theory. If there’s two shows that I hate hearing people tell me is funny, it’s The Big Bang Theory and How I Met You Mother. Knowing that Smulders was on that show, I figured the only reason she landed the role was to get audiences of that show interested. Lucky for me, I was wrong. DEAD WRONG! Well, not dead wrong, but I wanted to say that. Maria Hill is a tough character because she is essentially Nick Fury’s right-hand man, but considering she is younger and a female, the relationship could easily fall into a stereotype. This is typically avoided, and I always viewed the Nick Fury/Maria Hill relationship to be a lot like the Yoda/Luke Skywalker relationship in The Empire Strikes Back. We know that the apprentice can clearly handle their shit, but they still also have a lot to learn. We saw Maria Hill questioning Fury on his actions, even doubting his choices, but knew her rank and never opposed his views, clearly knowing that he was the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. for a reason. She handled what she needed to handle and stepped up when necessary, letting the audience know that she’s be okay in the event that Fury was ever compromised and she would have to take the reins.
In short, EVERYONE DID A GOOD JOB IN VARYING DEGREES. Wow, I could have just said that instead of typing up all those other things. I knew this movie was going to be good. Everyone knew this movie was going to be good. In fact, I’d even say this movie was a GREAT superhero movie. As far as things I didn’t like, I’d say there were only two issues, maybe only one and a half…AND THEY’RE ONLY ISSUES! Let me clarify: I had ZERO problems with this movie. One issue was that I was disappointed that nobody ever shouted “AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!”, but considering this was their very first gathering, I could understand that not showing up naturally. I guess I hoped that in the epilogue, after all of the action, Fury would have mentioned assembling in some way. I know that any lines of dialogue I could come up with right now would be cheesy, but Joss Whedon is a much better writer than I am and I guess I hoped he had found a natural way to slip that in. The other issue was that even though this was a great superhero movie, it was just that…a great SUPERHERO movie. This movie won’t win any Oscars, any acting or directing awards, or be recognized with any other outstanding achievements. This movie is by no means a bad movie, not by a long shot. It was a witty, smart, action-packed, fist-pumping, stand up in your seat and high-five your friends FUN movie. After seeing the trailer for Prometheus and The Dark Knight Rises, it was hard to thing of The Avengers as being any sort of game-changer in the superhero genre. I’m also not saying that this movie needed to change the way we view superhero movies, it just felt very safe. Safe isn’t bad, safe is good! That’s why people where helmets and seatbelts! For some reason, which I can’t quite put my finger on, I kept having flashbacks to when I first saw Independence Day. Maybe it was because it was just a big, fun summer movie, or the fact that there were alien invaders, or the fact that you knew the good guys would win, I had the same excited feelings for The Avengers as I had almost twenty years ago with Will Smith. Whether you’re a comic book fan or not, you will have fun with this movie, and even though we spent close to two and a half hours watching this movie, this only felt like the beginning. I was totally willing to watch these characters interacting with another for two and a half more hours, just to see what kind of trouble they’d get into. Oh yeah, and I think I predicted a few years ago how closely this movie would mirror the events of The Ultimates comic book series, and I am glad to know I was right. What the fuck are these Chitauri aliens? JUST CALL THEM GODDAMNED SKRULLS AND BE DONE WITH IT!
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