So The Avengers was absolutely fantastic. Marvel’s done a pretty amazing job with their film properties, Ghost Riders and Punishers aside, and the most impressive part is that they’ve made me like their characters. I’m a hardcore DC guy, and I only buy/read Marvel titles when a creator I really love is on the book (right now, Fraction, Hickman, and DeConnick are my Marvel people). I couldn’t care less about the Avengers, and never have.
But then they made me love Iron Man by making him Robert Downey Jr. And then they made Thor, the only character I was predisposed to like on account of I’m a mythology nerd, even awesomer than I thought it would be. Then they took Captain America, a character I find unintentionally hilarious, and made a great action movie with an old school feel. So now I like all these people!!
The only character I wasn’t keen on was the Hulk. The Eric Bana and Edward Norton versions of the character didn’t do much for me. So I figured there’s not much you can do with a mindless force of destruction, and when it was announced he’d be in The Avengers with characters I did like, I just hoped he wouldn’t bring it down too much. Turns out, the Hulk was my very favourite character. And that’s what was so great about The Avengers… it took everything I liked and made it better, and took what I didn’t like and made it AWESOME.
I’m going to spoil the hell out of the movie now, so…
GO AWAY IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE AVENGERS YET!!
I’M ABOUT TO RUIN IT ALL SO BAD!!!
Okay… that should do it.
We all love Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man. We all love Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury. We all love(d) Agent Coulson (I’M STILL UPSET ABOUT THAT!!). We love Cap, we love Thor, and we REALLY love Loki. We knew these things would be good, and they were. In fact, they were spectacular. All of that was great.
There were other things, though, that we probably had some doubts about. Black Widow didn’t have much to do in Iron Man 2 so she was sort of an unknown. Hawkeye was only in Thor for like three seconds. The Hulk movies kind of sucked. Plus it was a pretty full cast already with the heroes we loved… tossing in these characters we weren’t sure of AND a new one with Maria Hill could have been too much. Of course, it wasn’t.
Black Widow was BAD ASS. And an actual character this time. She manipulated Loki well with her Hawkeye story and acted all cold and aloof after, but you could tell there was something there. And then she fought the Hulk, killed a TON of aliens, and jumped on one of those alien flier things and flew it up to the top of Stark tower. It was pretty great.
Hawkeye was killer too. He was all evil for a while, but then he came back with a score to settle and shot oh so many aliens with his bow and arrow skills. Maria Hill was cool too, and way more hardcore than I thought Robin Scherbatsky could be. They were all fantastic additions to the Marvel movie universe.
But then there’s the Hulk. You guys, the Hulk was the GREATEST!! Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner was so laid back/silently rage filled the whole time, was cracking jokes with the best of them, and just generally fit right in with the affable big guns we loved already. And then he Hulked out and it was AMAZING. The Thor/Hulk fight was crazy fun, but in that final battle at the end it was ALL about the Hulk. I don’t think I’ve EVER heard a theatre erupt like it did today when Hulk grabbed Loki and smashed him on the floor over and over and over… it might have been the best thing I’ve ever seen on the big screen EVER. And everybody was LOVING it. Ditto the Hulk punching Thor after they took down the alien snake. He was great comic relief, but he also busted up the aliens SO fantastically. Arrows and repulsor rays and hammers are fun and all, but nothing’s better than getting in there and manhandling bad guys. I NEVER thought the Hulk would be the best part of this movie, and he was by far.
On top of all the characters being cooler than they’ve ever been before, The Avengers was a big step up stylistically as well. The Marvel movies have all had a similar structure and tone, and it had become a bit formulaic. Something crazy would happen, creating the hero, the hero would have fun hijinks for a while, things would get more serious, and then it would end with a big battle. All of the movies were great, but that wasn’t really going to work for The Avengers.
Instead of the usual structure, they opted with wall to wall insanity, constantly building and building the chaos. Sure, it ended with a huge battle, but there were like FIVE battles before that there were comparable to or bigger than the grand finale battles from the other films. The SHIELD base got blown up, they fought Loki, they all fought each other escorting Loki back, the helicarrier got attacked and THEN the aliens arrived and it was crazier than everything before combined!!! All the while being hilarious and endearing and fun, and building the plot beautifully, as well as maintaining the original tone that was so key to making the originals movies such successes.
Because here’s the thing about the Avengers: They’re all a lot of fun. As Fury and his cohorts assembled the team, I thought for a second “This is a bit of a slow build” (and “Why is Thor last? He’s my favourite!”), but then I realized I didn’t care because all of the characters are such a good time on their own. They don’t have to be battling fiendish gods or invading alien hordes. They can just sit around and chat and make jokes and it’s ridiculously fun. The superhero insanity was awesome, but the characters are just so enjoyable. If The Avengers 2 was a two hour extended cut of the after credits scene of the team eating shawarma, I’d still go see it. They’re just fun to be around, explosions and punching aside.
Finally, I’m super impressed with Joss Whedon. Don’t crucify me, but I’m not a huge Whedon guy. I really love Astonishing X-Men, but Buffy and Firefly/Serenity and all of that really isn’t my scene. He’s got geek cred up the wazoo, but The Avengers was far and away the biggest thing he’s ever done. And he KILLED it. He maintained the feel of the original movies while adding his own style to the mix, and juggled a lot of characters, a lot of plot, and an insane amount of action with a remarkable level of finesse. The movie never dragged, nor did it short change any of the characters or become too chaotic to follow. It was quite a directorial feat all around, and it sort of makes me ill that he never got to make a Wonder Woman movie. Imagine the awesomeness of The Avengers, but with Wonder Woman instead… how great would that be??!!
So yeah, I LOVED it. But let’s not be sycophantic… there must be something to critique. Well, I’m pretty bummed about Agent Coulson. And I didn’t like Thor without sleeves. He looked silly. That’s about it. Other than that, it was such a good time!! It was epic superhero fun with an amazing ensemble, though really it’s worth seeing just for that Hulk vs. Loki scene. Seriously, that might be the best thing I’ve EVER seen.