By: Addison Wylie
After much anticipation, The Avengers, a big budget superhero collaboration project featuring a versatile and talented cast, has come to fruition. Marvel has been taking their time for a little over half a decade to build towards this grand display of the supernatural and superhuman and the company both in front and behind the camera have done a fantastic job doing so. Mind you, some credit goes to the minds who helped build the theatrical origin stories beforehand. With all the individual build-ups out of the way, Director Joss Whedon now has the freedom to take these established personalities and develop something even more innovative.
The big question movie goers have is whether the superhero juggernaut works or not. Perhaps in the wrong hands, The Avengers could’ve turned into a two hour commercial to sell toys. However, that isn’t the case with the spectacularly, well crafted film Whedon has made.
Joss Whedon, who also wrote the screenplay, has a way with words and story structure. The story involving a missing fantastical cube with connections to Asgard (the mythical world from Thor) stolen by Loki (the antagonist from Thor still being played wonderfully by Tom Hiddleston) never shuts out its audience completely. As an ominous voiceover narrates at the beginning, there’s also an ominous and foreboding feeling that non-comic book readers and watchers are going to be left in the cold. Especially if one hasn’t seen Thor or is unfamiliar with the alternate universe.
All is fine though once the robbery commences and the Avengers are introduced one-by-one and brought together to devise a plan to rescue the cube and stop Loki’s anarchist plan from carrying out.
It helps to have seen the previous Marvel films but it certainly isn’t required watching in order to follow The Avengers. By seeing the previous origin stories, you’ll recognize certain jokes, set pieces, and bit roles as they appear but those elements aren’t written as in jokes or portions tailor-made for hardcore fans. If Joe Schmoe doesn’t recognize Professor Erik Selvig from Thor (played by Stellan Skarsgård), they can still understand he’s a scientist who plays a subtle key role.
It’s this type of screenwriting and direction that makes Whedon’s feature admirable. When it comes down to it, The Avengers‘ premise is fairly straight forward but Whedon uses the battling personalities among his group of heroes to build camaraderie and tension while, at the same time, uncompromising their identities or statures in order to progress his story. The moments where Tony Stark (aka. Iron Man played by Robert Downey Jr.) and Steve Rogers (aka. Captain America played by Chris Evans) are arguing, which turns into inevitable sparring, is an excellent example of this.
Both characters are respected by their fans and are powerful in their own ways. However, Stark’s snappy and snarky problem solving clashes with Rogers’ more traditional ways of crime fighting. Despite the age differences, Stark sees Rogers as dated whereas Rogers wants Stark to grow up.
While the butting-of-heads is a consistent theme, we’re never rooting for one Avenger in particular but rather siding with everyone equally on the crime fighting team. The dialogue always stays true to the character it pertains to and the exchanges are always captivating. Whedon also makes his fim very funny at times; something audiences don’t necessarily see in full force in these types of action movies.
The film’s length is not to be overlooked though. This is a very meaty movie that is surprisingly dialogue heavy for the first two thirds finishing off with an exciting finale full of impressive fights. Parents be warned: While you may be hooked to the talky scenes, your son/daughter dressed up as the Hulk may not approve. Just assure them that if they’re patient, their favourite superhero will reward them.
My screening of The Avengers was shown in traditional 2D. While the shots of Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner pointing their weapons towards the screen as well as the action pieces may have looked eye-popping in 3D, I couldn’t help but feel relieved while I was watching the movie without the glasses treatment. The movie is visibly dark which means the glasses may have diffused the picture. And, again, the movie is dialogue heavy. I don’t need special glasses to watch Hulk newcomer Mark Ruffalo talk about the effects of the life threatening cube.
Whedon and company are fully aware to the anticipation and the years of cinematic development and, thus, they all bring their A-game (NOTE: That accidental pun was overlooked during the first draft. However, I happily embrace it.).
The Avengers is not only a miraculously pulled off project but it’s also a compelling action, drama, and comedy. It may also be one of the best pictures of the year.