Well it is officially summer, or at least Hollywood’s version of it, because the first potential blockbuster of the season has been released with The Avengers. If you remember from last summer the field was littered with comic book heroes but now the gang from Marvel have bonded together to make one mega superhero film. I’m sure a lot is riding on the success of this film since Iron Man is still a profitable movie franchise along with Thor (maybe even Captain America) because if The Avengers bombs it could take down other related projects. Thankfully I don’t think that will be the case since the movie will appeal to a wide base and is a good time at the multiplex.
The Avengers is a star heavy film with actors such as Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Samuel L. Jackson, and Chris Hemsworth. All of these actors at one point have opened films with themselves as the stars so to have them grouped in a movie means that each is going to have significant screen time along with having to play well with others – which is the reason audiences will not see Edward Norton reprising his role as Bruce Banner/The Hulk. Mark Ruffalo played the Banner/Hulk role which makes him the third actor to take over the position in the last decade. With that said, the film needed a script which would accommodate every particular actor’s strengths while being true to the narrative thus much of the glory for this film has to go to Joss Whedon who directed and wrote the screenplay (he also developed the storyline with the help of Zak Penn).
The plot involves a stolen substance which causes a black hole type opening in the earth’s atmosphere that allows an invading alien army to pass through. This army wants to take over the world because humans are ants under their boots (it’s explained in the film). The infamous S.H.I.E.D. becomes involved when Thor’s adoptive brother (you would remember him if you saw Thor) invades their secret base. From there they have to rally the troops starting with Johanssons’ Natalie Romanova/Black Widow who is busy interrogating a bad guy while tied to a chair (I thought this scene was particularly fun). She is assigned to entice Banner to aid in the effort while Jackson’s Nick Fury gives Evans’ Captain America the shot in the arm to be all he can be. After the group is assembled they start arguing amongst themselves.
I don’t want to suggest that not all super heroes are equal, however Iron Man has a lot more charisma than most of the others. Once again Downey’s Iron Man was a crowd pleaser. Tony Stark is the type of character that ends up running the show even when every effort is made to make sure that he doesn’t. There was humor inserted in many scenes yet Downey’s delivery insured that he got the bulk of the hardy-har-hars.
I recommend seeing The Avengers in the theater because it is a fun movie full of earnestness and snark. I think it will play well on TV but I don’t think it is possible to replicate the magic of watching the film in a theater with a bunch of boys whispering and sharing notes about comic book characters. Although their texting was annoying at times, the fact that they knew a lot of Marvel trivia kept them interesting in an ease dropping sort of way (I don’t think they recognized Stan Lee). I’m taking it as a good sign that the summer of 2012 is going to be full of entertaining films. My last piece of advice to those that see The Avengers is to stay until the end of the credits even though the film suggests that the aliens have other plans (you know, a scene where a future villain turns to the camera three quarters) that’s not quite the end so stay seated it is worth it.