Many years ago when The Avengers was announced, its 2012 release date seemed eons away. Not to mention the idea that Hollywood would take the time to meticulously translate several beloved Marvel characters into a number of films, each focusing exclusively on the origin and adventures of said characters and then subsequently make a film featuring all the characters played by the same actors playing the same characters they did in their individual films, Edward Norton aside. The entire arrangement was met with its share of incredulousness at the time. It was one of those “I’ll believe it when I see it” situations. But, here we are in 2012, and the big dream has finally come true.
The Avengers’ director Joss Whedon had his work cut out for him from the start. The pressure was immense. The film was either going to be astoundingly great or appallingly terrible. Okay or pretty good were never an option. It’s been said a billion times by now, so I suppose I will be the billionth and one person to state: The Avengers exceeds all expectations! Whedon clearly has respect for the material and this group’s importance within the Marvel universe. He seems only out to please their countless, devoted fans.
One of Whedon’s greatest strengths is his ability to write for an ensemble. The Avengers divides its time among its leads well. Every character has a purpose and something to contribute to the cause. As a result, nothing feels wasted. Every scene contributes to a majestic whole.
Still, even with nearly equal time allotted to our heroes, there are two standouts. Chris Evans as Steve Rogers looks much more comfortable as Captain America here. His leadership characteristics and Evans’ handling of them help place a strong emphasis on the team aspect of the film. There’s a noticeable amount of assertiveness that was only, more or less, hinted at in Captain America: The First Avenger. In this outing, Evans is completely natural and lively.
The other man of note is Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye. His story in the film is a tad peripheral compared to some of the other subplots, but engrossing nonetheless. His lethal character is enigmatic; it is this specific air of mystery about him that makes us want to see more of Clint Barton and his origin.
We already knew Whedon could craft vibrant protagonists and careful storytelling. Angel, Buffy, Firefly and Dollhouse, among other projects, have already shown that. But, The Avengers is a glowing, cinematic concretion of his exceptional directing abilities. It’s obvious great pains went into making a movie that works for both comic book aficionados and casual fans alike.
The Avengers is not just an excellent comic book movie though, it’s an excellent film period. Whedon and company have superbly soldiered through the innumerable tough challenges of this mammoth project with grace and gusto, enthusiastically hammering out an assembly of iron talent and green gallantry that you can’t help but marvel at.