Director: Joss Whedon
Writers: Joss Whedon (screenplay), Zak Penn (story), Joss Whedon (story)
Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson
I think you always know what you’re going to get from Joss Whedon and in The Avengers he delivers in spades. With a ridiculous budget of approximately two hundred and twenty million this action-packed extravaganza went on to gross over one and a half billion dollars. Those are some figures indeed and you can understand where both of them were achieved in what at the time was the ultimate comic book film.
After an intro scene, we switch to a S.H.I.E.L.D. complex under an emergency evacuation, Phil Coulson is already in attendance on site as director Fury is arriving. The Tesseract (if you remember that object) is doing things it should not be doing and has everyone worried, especially Selvig (Skarsgård). Selvig has been investigating and conducting experiments on the Tesseract under controlled conditions but it would seem it has become extremely unstable and volatile. Renner is back as Hawkeye and he has also been studying the object.
The Tesseract then beings to open a doorway from another world and as Selvig and members of S.H.I.E.L.D. look on, our old friend Mr Smarmy Whiney Pants appears and starts to cause chaos and mayhem. It would seem that Loki has struck a deal with the Chitauri and they have given some form of energy staff which he wields to devastating effect. Loki is certainly more bad ass now with his ice spear, like a Dungeons and Dragons wizard on the white powder (which might explain his overall look).
Thus the rest of the film and plot develop as Loki tried to take over earth and our hero’s valiantly defend her. And that is done with absolute aplomb with action scenes, wit, feel good moments and lots of ass kicking. There are also (as in other previous films) so many little nods and winks to events from the comics that this really is the superhero movie to end all superhero movies. With an excellent script and the awesome Whedon having creative control a culmination of five films and almost 5 years resulted in a true explosive coming together of talent and story-lines.
As for the cast, everyone is just brilliant and on top form here. Robert Downey Jr reprises the role of Stark, complete with witty one liners and improvisation (to great effect) and just as before, his chemistry and banter with Ms Potts is second to none. Gregg returns as Agent Coulson and his scene where he is put on hold by Romanoff is one of pure brilliance and very funny. he does play dead-pan very very well. Likewise Black Widow is also here and while a more reserved role for her (until near the finale) Scarlet Johansson is always a welcome addition.
The big change here though is with our jolly green giant. Norton to be replaced by Mark Ruffalo is a very positive and welcome change in my opinion. If you have my read review of The Incredible Hulk you will know my thoughts on Norton. Ruffalo is more believable and makes for a much better character. Interestingly Letterier actually wanted Ruffalo originally for the Hulk movie, so I guess it was just meant to be. The Hulk here is also much improved and I feel you can identify much more with him due to the facial and bodily changes. Plus Ruffalo is just Mr Charisma and he is a great choice for the role.
As for our geriatric Captain, I was really not overly blown away by Evans in his origin film but have to admit to really liking his character here. Direction, script or just growing into the role? Not sure but Evans is much better here as the treasured hero and I really enjoyed his performance. Samuel L. Jackson finally gets the screen time he deserved and well and truly plays up his good cop, bad cop routine with himself. You get what you get with the man and he works perfectly for his role, which is taken up from the Ultimate Marvel series (where he gave his permission for them to use his likeness), so good continuity.
The visual effects are stepped up a notch here compared to the previous films and this really is the big comic epic they promised. They talked the talk and then walked the walk. The action scenes (of which there are plenty) are seamless and the CGI is excellent. To marks for the photography also as every shot just looks right and perfect. They really could not done much more of a better job on this, everything just clicks. But that is not to say the film is just one long roller coaster ride of thrills as that would be unfair.
There is humour here in abundance from most of the characters and some of the one-liners will have you literally gasping for air (especially from Stark and Thor). Intermingled with this is moments of quiet down time and reflection and some moving moments that makes this film perhaps more than the sum of its parts. The directing, acting and screenplay all combine to truly make not just a wondrously fantastic film but the greatest superhero film of all time (at point of release). Very highly recommended, especially if you are a comic fan.
The Sage’s Rating: