The wait is over for the latest Marvel Super Hero installment, Marvel has released The Avengers to theaters this weekend and it’s taking off like mad. The new movie spearheaded by Joss Whedon sets out to combine the lives of Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye into a single classic package from the comic world. The article will try to stay as spoiler free as possible so everyone can read it without feeling like I just killed the ending.
Given past experiences this isn’t something that’s a given to go well, many have felt the burn from bad group movies like Fantastic Four and some of X-Men as well. Fortunately Whedon has a history with Marvel in writing story arcs and developing characters across their roster, as a result he has a bit of an understanding about how they work. Add onto this he’s a creator from the genre and understands developmental trends from the Marvel Universes, as a result we get a mixture of hero profiles that set up a great experience without trying to reinvent the wheel, instead he just borrows from the best of all there is to pick from.
The basics are easy, Loki has returned and he’s in for payback, he has an army with him and a plan to launch a full-scale invasion if he’s lucky. With his brother preoccupied elsewhere and his existence thought to be lost to the void he’s on a limited free ride ticket to get into action while he can. Unfortunately this is where things go horribly wrong, in his last trip to Earth he didn’t take the time to absorb the level of the heroes on the planet, as a result he’s stuck with something he didn’t account for, some big names that don’t take kindly to getting shoved around.
As a Marvel movie this hits a lot of points that get missed in regular releases, while running at around 2 hours and 30 minutes from previews to credits it uses the time to create story, relationships, conflicts and resolve without axing too much off. It’s very common to see critical development skimmed through in favor of being flashy or saving time, Whedon doesn’t dive into this all that much and the experience is richer for it. We see a band of heroes that had no real relations jump into the fray with genuine conflict instead of magical cooperation, given the fights that happen in the comic universe it was a relief to see that no one was really happy-go-lucky in the story.
The result of this is an intense experience and one of the most impressive accomplishments is the development of the best Hulk I’ve seen yet in the movies from Marvel right now. The personality development is critical and the focus goes from the random generations of Banner to something closer to the Hulk seen in arcs like Planet Hulk. If there’s a chance to keep that thunder going it would likely prove to renew faith in the franchise even if it was yet another reboot. Other characters like Captain America get a heavy kick to the modern age, we left off with him trying to cope with the modern age but Whedon helps crank a reluctant Captain into full gear by making him step up to the situation at hand.
Other developments include a reformed Thor, while headed toward greater responsibility he’s less of a hot-head figure in the development, using calculated attacks and complete control of the hammer to dish out heavy damage to anyone in his way. The other step up in development came from Iron Man, while there’s no doubt that Tony Stark likes to let it rip, he’s at a technological point where he’s more interested in knowing more and doing more than ever before. While he still gets to be a bit of an ass it’s nothing that dwarfs the rest of the cast in the movie and often serves to develop the story around other characters even more.
While I had a lot of excitement going into The Avengers, it was a true test to see if it held up to expectations, it’s safe to say that it delivers on multiple levels. As a comic movie it brings intense action and storytelling to new levels, it doesn’t short the audience to meet a deadline and it draws a full story experience from start to finish. Joss even finds time to tease other parts of the universe throughout the film to the final seconds before the MPAA rating screen closes out the movie, yes that’s right sit through EVERYTHING, if you leave early you’ll only hurt your own experience.
Visually The Avengers brings intense environments through heavy use of locations and CG implementation, the story sells because they took the time to go through how they sold the comic and kept to that. With so much time taken into making this a major accomplished piece there aren’t any areas that just blatantly scream out that a corner was cut. It’s easy to know so many things are CG in the film but the immersion remains strong throughout the movie and owns what it is by utilizing the technology to the extreme.
Overall it’s an experience to catch although some may need to prepare themselves for it based on the running time. While it is action driven it’s very much about the drama and adventure throughout the story and that may set some fans back. If you’re a general movie fan hoping for a blind rush of action that lacks depth I’d still say try to see this, if you’re looking for a well executed comic movie, you’d only rip yourself off by skipping The Avengers. Now the question remains if Marvel can hold the rest of their movies up to the same bar. For my experience this was one of the most rewarding installments I’ve come across for Marvel movies, I was interested going in with minimal fears and I came out wanting to see it again.