By Todd Matthy
They did it! Five years ago Marvel Studios set out to boldly go where no studio has gone before and created their own movie universe. The seeds were planted in Iron Man during a post credits sequence where Nick Fury (Samuel Jackson) spoke to Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) aka Iron Man about something called “the Avengers Initiative.” Over four years 2 Iron Man movies, a Thor movie, Captain America and The Incredible Hulk movies and the Avengers have been assembled. Avengers not only lives up to the anticipation, it far exceeds it.
Avengers is the biggest nerdgasm ever! Then again it’s Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, and the Hulk teaming up, it’s Robert Downey Jr., Scarlet Johansson, Samuel Jackson, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, and Mark Ruffalo, sharing the marquee, and to cap it all off it’s written and directed by Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon. I knew this movie was going to be good, but I didn’t expect it to be as great as it was.
The plot of Avengers is simple. Thor’s half-brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has stolen an inter-dimensional key called the Tessaract (Cosmic Cube in the comics) from an international peace keeping agency called SHIELD and uses it to summon an otherworldly army called the Chitauri. To counter the invasion SHIELD’s head Nick Fury (Samuel Jackson) puts together a squadron of super heroes to act as Earth’s first line of defense…if they don’t kill each other first.
What makes Avengers a “great” movie as opposed to a “good” one is not the special effects or the action but the script. One of Joss Whedon’s strengths is his ability to say a lot by saying very little. When each member of the Avengers appears he gives them a small moment to establish who they are and why we should care about them. He also (as Buffy know) has a knack for dialogue and using it not only for levity but to establish character. The best examples of this are any scene with Tony Stark aka Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Bruce Banner aka the Hulk (Jeremy Renner). But Whedon’s script isn’t all fun and games. He shines a brief spotlight on the chaos and devastation a super hero battle can have on the world.
If I were to analyze every actor’s performance this review would be an essay so I’m going to focus on the one’s that stood out. Jeremy Renner is BY FAR the best Hulk to grace the silver screen. Through his body language and voice, Renner plays Banner as a ticking time bomb ready to explode. Tom Hiddleston’s Loki is grandiose and sly at the same time, stealing every scene he’s in. Finally, there is Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man who is tailor made for Joss Whedon. Whether it’s playful flirting with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow in a more then welcome cameo), calling Thor (Chris Hemsworth) “Shakespeare in the Park” in the middle of a fight, arguing with Captain America (Chris Evans) or banter during a battle, Robert Downey Jr. plays Tony Stark with the same smooth and cocky style that made the Iron Man movies so beloved. Whedon definitely had fun writing and directing him.
Action and effects wise this movie gets a gold. There are points during the final battle with the Chitauri when you get the sensation of roller coaster. This is only amplified by the 3D. My personal favorite fight is the one between Thor and the Hulk. I won’t tell you who wins.
Great characters, great script, good acting, amazing action, and a ton of audience cheering moments make Avengers the standard bearer for this summer’s movies. Bring on Dark Knight Rises its got stiff competition. And like with all Marvel movies, stay for the credits they introduce someone who could either be the villain of sequel OR perhaps they’re building to something EVEN bigger.