Friday, May 11, 2012

The Avengers - Theatrical Review




THE AVENGERS



Release Date: May 4, 2012

Marvel's The Avengers is an unprecedented event. It is something that has never happened before and will most likely never happen again (at least in my lifetime). The biggest question at this point isn't whether or not the film is any good, but more about if it lived up to the enormous amount of hype behind it. Here's a hint...it did.



Review Vital Stats:
Theater: Arclight Pasadena
Time: 10:30 pm May 4th, 2012
Projector Type: Digital 2D
Film Rating: PG-13
Film Runtime: 2 hr 23 min
Studio: Universal

Biases:
Loves: All the Marvel super hero movies leading up to this, Joss Whedon
Likes: Everything about this movie
Neutral: The post-conversion 3D process...why not just shoot it in 3D?
Hates: That due to the digital IMAX conversion there will never be a true 70 mm IMAX version of the film.
Not what you are expecting: That end credit scene...brilliant!



After four years worth of set up and an enormous amount of hype behind it, Marvel's The Avengers is finally upon us and as you will soon find out with this appropriately epic review, I kind of loved it. It's hard to believe that this moment has arrived, even with the insane marketing campaign Disney put forth, it is difficult to comprehend the fact that we actually have an Avengers movie. At this point it isn't even really about whether or not the film is any good, which it most certainly is, but with so much more at stake with its success it becomes more about how successful it is at establishing the Marvel universe itself. The days of the self contained super hero movie are over. The Avengers is not only a fantastic start to a potentially huge summer but also an indicator of greater things to come from Marvel in the future.

The gangs all here, Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and over course everyones favorite one-eyed S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). They have come together in order to prevent Loki (Tom Hiddleston) from taking over Earth in a grand scheme to conquer all of humanity and prove himself the true heir to the throne of Asgard. Our wayward heroes may not be the most compatible group ever assembled but that doesn't stop them from forming The Avengers, a team of super heroes bound to save Earth from all who would attempt to harm it or its people. If they can't save the Earth, they sure as hell are gonna avenge it!

This moment has been long in the coming...

Four years ago Paramount and Marvel started something, something big. By attaching a scene that lasted no longer than a minute as a bookend to the first Iron Man film they created an unprecedented amount of hype and disbelief. At that time it wasn't more than wishful thinking that we would get something on the scale of The Avengers. Sure, that scene between Tony Stark and Nick Fury was a total geek-out moment, but many (including myself) never thought they would be able to do it (remember that this happened before Disney bought Marvel and that Marvel was having some serious financial woes). But it was fun dreaming about what it would be like if an Avengers movie did actually happen. Who would be in it? What super heroes would they assemble? What villain would they fight? But most people kept it pretty real and decided to hold back their enthusiasm to just a cautious curiosity. Then not a month later The Incredible Hulk dropped another bomb on us.

As I mentioned, I loved the idea of an Avengers movie but thought it would never happen and The Incredible Hulk was a perfect example of my skepticism. Not only was it relatively unsuccessful compared to its budget, had a star that was most likely never to return, but it was also from Universal, a completely different studio than Iron Man's distributor Paramount. History tells us that although some big movie studios can come together and make nice to produce something bigger than themselves, that it usually doesn't happen. But then I saw Tony Stark. After I got over my initial shock and astonishment of how impractical and illogical it was for two megapower film studios to collaborate like that, I realized what was going on. This was a concerted effort by multiple parties who seemed to be building to something extraordinary, something unprecedented. THAT is when I really started to get excited.

It isn't long before Cap takes command of The Avengers team.

Soon after that we got news of Thor and Captain America going into production as well as Iron Man 2. There was also this little tidbit about another movie being constructed as well called....The Avengers! My first reaction was to call bullshit on all this, there was no way this could happen and if it did there was no way it would ever work out the way it should. There were just too many variables at play, Marvel's financial woes being paramount (I still remember the threat of losing Samuel L. Jackson because Marvel wasn't willing to foot his bill). Then a miracle happened, on December 31st of 2009 Walt Disney Studios purchased the fledgling studio and jump started it back to peak performance. Then last year we got the one-two punch of Thor and Captain America, both more integrated into the budding Avengers universe than any of the preceding films (as was Iron Man 2) which culminated into probably one of the most anticipated feature film events since...hell, I have no idea.

So, what I am trying to get at here is that there has been a whole lot of build up over the past few years for this one solitary film. Why is it such a big deal though? Sure, everyone loves super hero movies anymore but what makes this one so special? This isn't the first time a group of super heroes have assembled on the big screen, remember the X-Men? All the heroes assembled here have already had their big screen debuts so there wasn't a whole lot of hype surrounding any one particular hero either. So what is it exactly that had every single comic book fan out there in such a frenzy over The Avengers? Well, I am no expert here but my money is on the fact that this film was set to signify a change in how super heroes are handled on the big screen as well as the promise of something more significant than just another sequel. This was something only hinted at in those other films. No longer will each hero have their own self-contained universes that go no further than the boundaries of their own personal stories. This is the start of something much grander in vision and execution. This is the beginning of the cross-over super hero movie.

Who's that behind Black Widow....hmmmm?

When writer/director Joss Whedon was given the seemingly impossible task of making a film that would not only tie-in to each and every one of those previous films in a way that felt organic to each of those film's individual realities, but also create a film universe where each hero could co-exist in each others realities as well as the reality for the actual Avengers film itself, I was beyond skeptical to say the least. I have grown to appreciate Whedon and his diverse background in television (and now film) over the years but even I had my doubts if he could pull it off. There were just too many variables, there were too many pieces of the puzzle that couldn't be accounted for on top of which he had to make an actual cohesive story that could sustain itself and not require the viewer to see any of the previous films. Well, Joss Whedon must have made the biggest deal with the devil of all time because he not only surpassed my high expectations for what I was looking for in the ultimate super hero smack down, but also created a legitimate universe that Marvel will be able to reap the benefits of for years to come. This IS the best super hero movie of its kind to ever be made. End of story. Now that we have all that out of the way though, let's talk some Avengers shall we?

I went into The Avengers with the modest expectations of someone who enjoys super hero movies for what they are, but isn't really attached to them in the same way a true comic book geek would be. What I look for in my super hero movies is simple, just give me some great character moments, some truly awe-inspiring sights and a narrative that makes some sort of sense to a person that isn't very knowledgeable in the comic book lore. But this isn't just a simple super hero movie, it is a new breed of super hero movie. It doesn't exist in a vacuum, it is fully aware of what all went down in those other films and because of that it doesn't or CAN'T play by the same rules as your stereo typical comic book film or sequel. What The Avengers does is not uncommon in the the comic book world, super heroes cross over to each others realities all the time and for those fans this is just a recreation of what they have been privy to for decades. For the common movie goer though, this is more than just a role call of their favorite super heroes, this is an event, a spectacle the likes of which has never been seen before.

From left: Stark, Rogers, Fury, Banner and Thor...how f**king cool is that?!

I can't even begin to tell you how many geek-gasms I had while watching The Avengers based solely on the idea of seeing these heroes together in the same film. As each of our heroes are introduced one by one I got more and more excited for each minute that passed when they would eventually come face to face (or mask to mask if you like). I was surprised by how well paced the film was though, it wasn't in a rush to get to the goods, it was more interested in slowly revealing each hero and how they would eventually fit into this very intricate puzzle. I am not gonna lie, at first I was slightly underwhelmed by the direction the film was taking in its opening moments. With all the set up from the other films I was half expecting this to start out with a bang, which it most certainly did, but in a way I was no where near expecting. Instead we get introduced to the organization we have only seen bits and pieces up until now, S.H.I.E.L.D.

The film opens with S.H.I.E.L.D. in possession of the tesseract (or otherwise known as The Cosmic Cube). This is almost a direct lead in from where Thor had ended with its little tease at the end of the credits where we saw Nick Fury acquire the help of Professor Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) to work with the cube. We also got a glimpse of Loki manipulating the poor Professor which works in perfectly to The Avengers opening moments. Knowing that this film was already set to have way too many characters, both old and new, I was a little worried with how it was going to juggle all of them in a way where they all got their just due, but it appears my worries were for not. In this opening scene alone we get re-introduced to Nick Fury, Selvig, Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) and Hawkeye, as well as meeting the only true new face from the Marvel universe to show up in this film, Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders). Then you add Loki into the mix and that is a whole lot of characters but Whedon handles the scene with a certain grace and elegance that almost makes you forget for a second that THESE ARE NOT EVEN THE MAIN CHARACTERS OF THE FILM.

That opening scene signified to me that Whedon knows what the hell he is doing though when it comes to handling this many characters in a single film. This movie is all about build up and then release. Even though we know that our heroes will eventually come together in the end and learn to work together, it is the building of the team itself that worked so beautifully. We had seen S.H.I.E.L.D. in each movie up til now but we had never actually seen them at work. Nick Fury or Agent Coulson would approach each hero and try to recruit their help but we never got to see what their organization was all about. By using the opening of the film to help us get up to speed with who and what they are, it provided the audience with just the right amount of information needed in order for everyone to be up to speed with what is going on. Once Fury and company begin their recruitment campaign however, the gloves come off however. Now, in order to properly discuss this film's many characters and do them justice I will have to break this review up and give my thoughts on an individual basis.

Cap is just trying to adjust to his new surroundings while also being in charge of The Avengers.

CAPTAIN AMERICA

Let's start off with Cap first which seems appropriate given his position as leader of The Avengers. I have always liked Cap and what he stood for. Sure he isn't nearly as entertaining as Tony Stark or as dangerous as the Hulk, but that is to be expected given that fact that he is the leader of The Avengers. He has to be stoic because he is the one member of the team who is constantly thinking about the greater good and never about himself. Nobility and honor is what I generally associate with Cap and while that stuff was hinted at in his previous film, it was pretty damn awesome seeing him finally take control of The Avengers and shine as the leader he was always meant to be. He doesn't get the short end of the stick when it comes to action either with some truly impressive battles and a great number of moments where we get to see him come into his own while commanding one of the greatest teams of super heroes ever assembled. Seeing him try to adjust to this new world he has been introduced to while also trying to keep his team of super heroes from ripping each other apart was a constant joy to behold. But by far his best moment is when he starts barking out orders to his fellow Avengers which just put a silly grin on my face.

The mighty Thor calls down the thunder.

THOR

Being a demi-god isn't an easy thing to integrate into a film filled with more "grounded" super humans, but I'll be damned if they didn't make it work. Thor's introduction into The Avengers isn't quite as grand as the others, he just kind of shows up, which is cool in a certain low key sort of way. They didn't all need an extravagant entrance into the film, but that doesn't make his arrival any less amazing (it also features one of the best laughs in the film as well). I never really cared for Thor until after seeing last years film though, and now I can confirm I am a true fan. He is the only character in The Avengers (the film that is) that has any sort of real connection to the villain and because of that he has the only real emotional ties to the outcome of their fight with Loki which I really liked. His confrontations are as epic as one would expect as well, his "confrontation" between Cap and Iron Man was a total geek out moment but it was later when he squares off against the Hulk when I just lost it. Without a doubt, Thor was a treat to watch as he laid the smack down on anything that got in his way, whether it be friend or foe.

Iron Man must learn to work with others if The Avengers is to survive.

IRON MAN

The fan favorite at the moment, Iron Man is the only hero of the bunch that is universally liked for his powers just as much as his alter ego, Tony Stark. Most of that praise has to go to Downey and his performance, but that doesn't change the fact that just about everyone almost prefers to see him as Stark more than Iron Man. He is just a much more interesting character when he is out of his armor and in a verbal debate with another person. Hell, his dialog with Loki in the penthouse is probably the most heroic moment he has in the film. Even his scenes with Bruce Banner, where a certain camaraderie emerged between the two geniuses was enough to give me goosebumps. But his heroics as Iron Man in The Avengers are not to be understated, he comes in fully loaded and gives us the pyrotechnics we expect once he takes flight. That being said, Iron Man is probably the only super hero in the film that delivers exactly what everyone expects and nothing more...and that's alright because he is no less fun to watch and those smart ass remarks that Stark is known for are just as sharp and funny as ever.

Black Widow is as dangerous as she is beautiful.

BLACK WIDOW

She first appeared in Iron Man 2 but she was more or less in the background except for her tussle with a few guards near the end of that feature which helped indicate that she was much more than just a spy. I won't lie though, I wasn't looking forward to seeing more of her character in The Avengers. Other than knowing how to do some fancy maneuvers and kick some ass, I found her to be rather uninteresting. But somehow even with my indifference towards her going into this, I couldn't help but be impressed with how three dimensional they made her character with such little screen time. She has some real impact on what goes down and also some really impressive scenes. Given how little she has to work with compared to the other Avengers, I was very pleased with how she was handled here. Oh, and I love her interrogation techniques...brilliant!

Hawkeye is the most dangerous person on the planet with a bow and arrow.

HAWKEYE

Other than his very brief (and tacked on) appearance in Thor, I didn't know a whole lot about Hawkeye before this. So my expectations were fairly level concerning his involvement in The Avengers. Just like Black Widow though, I wasn't too sure what a normal human (albeit, a skilled assassin) could add to this super hero mix besides some fancy moves with a bow and arrow. I gotta admit though that I really like how his character was handled here. It was a smart move taking him out of the equation the way they did at the beginning of the film, because not only did that allow us to get re-introduced to the stars of the show without his introduction getting in the way but it also added a nice little twist that I honestly didn't see coming which gave him some real investment in their fight against Loki. Later though when the shit hits the fan he more than proves himself a capable and integral part of the team and even manages to impress with his signature bow and arrow. Hawkeye was easily one of the more pleasant surprises for me in the film.

Even though she doesn't get to do much, it was still nice that they included Maria Hill.

 S.H.I.E.L.D.

I'm lumping all the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents together just because I don't think any one of them really did anything that would require any in depth examination. Nick Fury was by and large the person in charge of The Avengers leading up to this film but we never really got to see him actually BE in charge until now. Mostly though it was nice just to see him be a part of the film without having to wait until the end credits finished up. His character isn't really given much to do beyond oppose some unknown council whom seem hell bent on disbanding The Avengers before they even get together and shoot his gun a few times but with Jackson in the role he still commanded just about every scene he was in making sure you notice him. Agent Coulson also gets some more time on screen than usual and it was a pleasure seeing him geek out over meeting Captain America for the first time, that single gesture made him more relatable than anything he did in the previous films. I never thought one way or the other about him until now but I really liked him here. Then there is Maria Hill who is brought into the film with very little fanfare. Her appearance in the film is so understated that unless you know her from the comics, you will most likely not ever realize she is a semi-important character in the Marvel universe. It was a shame she didn't get more to do but her presence was appreciated none the less. All in all I thought everything having to do with S.H.I.E.L.D. and its agents was handled appropriately. The agency was always there but it never got in the way of the real super heroes.

Loki is still trying to work out that whole being-stolen-at-birth thing apparently.

LOKI

As far as villains go I don't think there was much the filmmakers could do as far as coming up with a character for The Avengers to face off against which not only made sense given the origins of all the characters but also be a real threat to them. Loki in this case was the perfect choice, as mentioned before he gives an emotional attachment and an actual reason to be there for Thor, helps introduce the rest of the crew to a whole different level of villainy (he literal brings an army from a different world to attack Earth), is powerful enough both mentally and physically to give our heroes a proper challenge and doesn't require any real introduction since we already know him from Thor. But even if you didn't see Thor, his reasons are made quite clear early on. It was also nice to see his transformation from a misguided and dangerous villain from Thor into a pure evil son of a bitch. Tom Hiddleston also did a bang up job in the role once again and sold every single second of his evil intentions. Loki may not go down as the best villain of all time but he certainly fit the bill for what was needed to get these super heroes to assemble and work together.

Hulk....SMASH!

THE HULK

Now, I want to take a moment here to make special mention of how this film handles the Hulk. The Hulk has had it rough over the years, a revered television series that for all intents and purposes is just sort of silly, two films with one a critical and financial flop and the other only mildly more successful, he just couldn't seem to catch a break. Let me state this right now, the Hulk is THE BEST thing in The Avengers. He steals the show every single minute he is on screen. I would even go so far as to say he steals the show even when he isn't on screen. Mark Ruffalo was the only X factor going into this, we were familiar with all the other actors in their roles but Ruffalo was the new kid on the block. That being said, I think he did a bang up job. He played Banner as a more neurotic character than Edward Norton or even Eric Bana ever did which really helped sell the mad scientist vibe of the character, which was a wise decision in my eyes. But when he transforms into the Hulk the film takes on a whole new lease on life.

This is the best Hulk movie ever made. I don't think anyone would or could argue against that. From the tension filled moments leading up to his eventual reveal, to his rage induced destructive tendencies once he is set free, the Hulk is the main attraction from beginning to end. His scenes on the helicarrier were just awesome, how he was used as this tool of destruction where he wasn't exactly fighting for any one side but both sides were forced to deal with him and his eventual departure from the helicarrier...perfect. The best moments for the Hulk are during the final battle though where he comes in aid of The Avengers. Many people probably wouldn't even realize this but this is the first time we have ever gotten to see the Hulk as an actual hero. His previous incarnations usually consisted of him demolishing everything just for self preservation. Here we get to see him SMASH the living shit out of actual bad guys and it is just all kinds of bad ass. I wouldn't be surprised if we hear word of a new stand alone Hulk movie in the very near future because he is the one thing I think most everyone will find themselves referencing as they leave the theater for weeks to come.

Cap and Iron Man can work together...sometimes.

As much as I love each and every one of those characters on an individual basis, by far my favorite aspect to this movie is just the simple fact that we get to see ALL of these guys in the same damn movie together finally. It is literally is an all star cast, and I am not just talking about the actors here. I think my joy comes mostly from how this film seems to be constructing something bigger under its hood than it initially seems. The obligatory recruitment scenes are fun but they really don't give us anything we hadn't seen before. It's cool seeing Black Widow and Bruce Banner in a scene together or Tony Stark being inundated with intel on the potential Avengers team, but the real shit is when we start to see these super heroes, who up to this point have been on their own, seemingly pop into each others lives. This movie is like a wet dream for anyone who ever wanted to see what it would be like if Iron Man showed up at the last minute to save Captain America or wanted to know who would win in a fight, Thor or the Hulk? This is a movie made from the ground up to satiate every geeks wildest dreams.

Just seeing these characters interact with one another is enough to send most geeks into orbit. It had never occurred to me that Tony Stark would befriend Bruce Banner simply because he was no longer the smartest guy in the room. Even watching the two of them talk and work together felt so surreal that it took me a good while before I could even comprehend it was actually happening, but when it did sink in it was pure unadulterated awesomeness. The legendary dislike that Steve Rogers and Tony Stark have for each other is also on hand, and while not nearly as potent as it will most likely get in the future (Civil War anyone?), it was a treat just seeing them stand their at odds with one another as they each struggle to win the conversation. It is impossible for me to truly convey just how amazing it was seeing these characters not only on screen together but also seeing how they react to each other. This is probably one of the most volatile super hero teams of all time and you get this sense that they are on the verge of falling apart almost constantly, even when they are working together..

No, I'm sorry. It is YOU Mr. Banner who is the time bomb.

That's what makes this whole film work though, seeing these disparate and independent (with the exception of Captain America) personalities clash. These guys were never meant to work in a team capacity, they are either overly skeptical (Banner), too trusting (Rogers), unfocused (Thor) or just full of themselves (Stark). Nothing about them screams out that they should be working together or with anyone at all, let alone other people that have complexes just as crazy as their own or worse...but they must. Bruce Banner says it best when he remarks, "We're not a team, we're a time bomb!". That couldn't be any closer to the truth if they tried. The truly remarkable thing about what Whedon did here though is that he somehow managed to keep each hero in line with who they needed to be for this story without every sacrificing who they truly are and what they stand for. It would have been all too easy to have Steve Rogers take command immediately and start barking out orders. Instead we see him struggle to overcome his fish-out-of-water syndrome and realign to a world that has forgotten everything he stood for over 70 years ago. That just makes the moment when he does eventually take over that much sweeter and that much more poignant. 

The same can be said for all the characters though, Stark and his inability to think of anyone but himself, Banner learning to trust people again as well as himself, Thor learning to compromise and even Fury learning to listen to reason. These are character traits and flaws that come directly from the films that lead each of them here and because of how Whedon masterfully connected all their stories into this one giant final piece, none of those traits are ever compromised, they are actually expanded upon and in most cases solved. It's kind of crazy to think of it like this but if you break this film down to the story arcs for each hero, The Avengers serves as a direct sequel to each and every one of their films that led to this point. So, all those issues Stark had at the end of Iron Man 2 are still present and accounted for, but instead of waiting for Iron Man 3 to work those issues out, he battles those demons here, which is kind of f**king cool.

The helicarrier is nothing short of awe-inspiring.

They all get their moments to shine though, this is probably the single best example of how to handle a large cast of characters I have ever seen. But much of the praise has to go to how Marvel got us to this point as well. By using those other films as building blocks, introducing us to each hero and setting up S.H.I.E.L.D. in bits and pieces, it allowed The Avengers to just jump right into it without any hassle. The only thing this movie needed to explain was how each of our heroes unites into this super team and that's it. At no point does it ever feel the need to explain why or how a giant aircraft carrier all of a sudden turns into a flying fortress or why all of a sudden Thor shows up out of a cloud of lightning and tears shit up or even the origin for its main villain Loki, whose purpose is straight forward enough without having to revisit what all transpired in Thor. It takes some serious balls to present a world as crazy and insane as that in The Avengers without any sort of explanation, and a true talent to even pull it off, but that tactic has paid off in a great way. All the screen time that would normally be wasted by exhausting exposition is taken up with some of the most insane action set pieces to ever grace any super hero movie ever.

Yes, for all the talk I have done about build up, set up, character moments, pacing and just a generous amount of ass kissing all around, The Avengers delivers on what I suspect most general movie goers want out of their super hero movies, a shit ton of amazing action set pieces. The first half of the film certainly takes it time as I mentioned, with the recruitment of each hero and their subsequent forging of The Avengers, and there are some really kick ass moments that are littered throughout those early scenes, but nothing can prepare you for the amount of exhilarating, breathtaking and just plain incredible moments that come later. Probably one of my favorite sequences in the film is the heli-carrier raid. What goes down in that scene is completely balls to the walls insanity with all the different characters running around and all the different things happening all over the place at the same time. I don't want to ruin anything that happens but suffice to say that all that build up pays off in a BIG way. The Avengers delivers the goods and then some.

Cap can certainly hold his own.

This is the first time we have ever gotten to see these people work together using their powers and it is nothing short of astonishing at times. Seeing Cap and Iron Man work together to fix the busted helicarrier or Black Widow trying to keep Banner calm and the resulting incident...fantastic! Thor jetting from one fight to the next to help out his fellow avengers or his confrontation with Loki...amazing! Every super hero movie has a moment or two that are scripted to make the audience jump out of their seats in excitement, the first time we saw Iron Man fly, the first time we saw Captain America throw his fabled shield, the first time we saw Thor pound the ground with the mighty mjolnir, those were moments that got your blood pumping but they were fleeting at best. Here there is no shortage of those moments. It seems like almost every ten to fifteen minutes that goes by there is something new that happens that makes you want to yell out, "F**k yeah!".

There is also something off kilter but also extremely cool about seeing a hero fight off a villain whom he has zero association with, he is just there to stop him from doing harm. That's just one of the many things I love about this super hero mash up which really makes it stand out from the rest, in just about every super hero movie to date the villain is almost always indiscriminately linked to the hero, but here...seeing Cap go up against Loki, a god from a different realm that Cap doesn't even knows exists...well, that's just kind of bad ass. The same goes for all the mix and matching that happens throughout the film, there is just no end to the amount of fan service going on in The Avengers. No matter which super hero is your favorite, be it Thor or even Hawkeye, they all come together in the end and bring their particular talents to the table for one of the best final beatdowns I have ever seen. Nothing is left to the imagination and there isn't a thing that I would have done any differently. This is one of those films where you will find yourself complaining only because it doesn't go bigger than it already does. It will leave you wanting more which is the best compliment any movie can get.

Something really big is coming their way.

As for those bad guys though, Loki is front and center as the key villain and does an admirable job as the main antagonist for our Avengers, but he isn't the only one they have to deal with, which leads me into probably my only real legitimate complaint about the film. The aliens that show up at the end are these faceless, emotionless and just plain ORDINARY run of the mill bad guys. There is absolutely nothing unique about them, nothing that makes them original in any way. They are simply fodder for our heroes and that's it. I suppose they accomplish what they are expected to do, which is to supply the Avengers with a large scale army that must be obliterated to kingdom come, but that's it. Seeing our heroes take them down is a thrill regardless though which led me once again to wishing for a more grand scale finale where they would literally have to combine their powers to take down a common foe, I suppose that has to wait for the inevitable sequel I guess. Still though, I can't imagine anyone giving these adversaries they face down a second thought a few months down the line which is quite the compliment when you stop and think about it.

What I mean about that is this is the first super hero movie to ever succeed at having the actual super heroes as the main attraction. I didn't care how much screen time Loki had, I wanted to see as much Hulk, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Nick Fury, Black Widow and Hawkeye as humanly possible...and Joss Whedon gave me that in droves. My complaint about those aliens they fought at the end, pointless, because these guys could have been fighting a f**king cold and I would have loved every minute of it. There really is almost nothing wrong with this film at all. I am sure that people will find something to nitpick here and there, "Oh, this person didn't get to do their signature move" or "I can't believe they didn't even mention this one thing that is integral to the entire Avengers mythology". None of that matters. You really have to put into perspective what this movie means for super hero films of the future and exactly what it is that it accomplished. This is a benchmark for every super hero movie to come.

Talk about your money shot...

I mentioned earlier that this film feels much bigger than itself, that it feels like something much grander in vision and scope. What Marvel, Disney and Whedon have created here is not just another super hero movie, they have created the framework for an entire universe of possibilities. Before The Avengers it would have been crazy to think that Iron Man could possibly travel to Asgard in his next movie, but now that seems totally feasible. How about Bruce Banner being called in to help Captain America out with some sort of scientific quandary? That can totally f**king happen now. What about Thor returning to Asgard and finding Red Skull somewhere in his nine realms and calls on the assistance of Cap to help bring him in? You see, by bringing not only all these heroes together but also their worlds, Marvel has made it possible for all these characters to co-exist in a consistent reality which is just beyond cool when you stop and think about it. The only possible way this can get screwed up now is if someone in charge either over at Disney or Marvel feels the need to start cutting back on budgets (which is something that can totally happen) and decide they can coast along on their success. Beyond that, the sky's the limit.

I absolutely love The Avengers. It not only works as a sequel to five completely separate films with four completely different characters, but it also works as a standalone feature and as a building block for future Marvel films. Viewed as just a super hero film though it still comes out as a winner with some great action, dazzling effects and as one of the most entertaining films of the year with a fantastic sense of humor on top of all that. Not that it really needs my endorsement (as of this writing it is one of the biggest films of all time) but I will still state that everyone needs to see this film, regardless if they have never seen any of the other ones leading up to it. I can imagine years from now people looking back and remembering when the tides turned on how super heroes were portrayed on the big screen and I am sure they will be thinking of The Avengers. The only thing more exciting than The Avengers at this moment is the fact that the summer is just getting started and we have a number of other potential blockbusters to still look forward too. If you haven't been able to tell yet, I suggest you...

CHECK IT OUT IMMEDIATELY


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