For the longest time (well since its release in 2009) I have considered Watchmen to be the best comic book movie ever made. The film’s mix of comic accuracy, compelling story (even if it is directly adapted), interesting characters, perfect casting and exciting action made it a far better experience than the rest. Like its comic book counterpart is was the king of the mountain. Well the king has been dethroned.
This past weekend (May 4th to be exact) Marvel Studios released the highly anticipated Avengers film. I don’t think I’m breaking any ground when I say that the movie is awesome. While not perfect any flaws are quickly forgiven due to the film’s sharp direction, entrancing action and witty script. Like in previous Marvel Studios pictures we get some top notch acting from Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, and (still a bit surprising for me) Chris Evans. Clocking in at two and a half hours the movie is surprisingly well paced; no scene feeling like it’s wearing out its welcome. All in all The Avengers is the perfect summer blockbuster. Of course what I’m doing now is just kind of repeating what every other critic is saying. So I decided to round up my Top 5 Things I Love About The Avengers. Admittedly it’s a wee bit self serving. Regardless I thought it would be a fun idea.
1- Joss Whedon
In my review for The Cabin in the Woods I said that I think I’m finally sold on Joss Whedon. After seeing The Avengers I absolutely am. Whedon had the impossible task of making a film not only for the hardcore geeks but also for the wide commercial audience; he more than delivered. While his direction was great (especially surprised when it came to big action scenes) it was the writing that really stood out for me. Joss was able to find the perfect balance of comedy, thrills, and honest-to-goodness characterization for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. He not only understands the characters but he also plays with the dynamics between each character. Joss Whedon did a fantastic job and all of the things about the film are thanks to masterful handling of the movie.
2- The Hulk
More specifically the fact that The Hulk was done right in The Avengers. Since the 70’s television show The Hulk has been used in a Jekyll and Hyde/duality of man type role. There’s nothing wrong with that either because that is a big part of the character. However in The Avengers they go past this trope and delve deeper into the character. We see a bit more of Bruce Banner the genius and, more importantly, a Bruce Banner that embraces The Hulk. While not at peace Banner knows the great power he has and when it should be let out. It’s an interesting way of portraying the character. This is all done masterfully by the always great Mark Ruffalo. He portrays this nerdy guy on the verge extremely well and steals every scene he is in. Overall it was a great rebranding of the character and for the first time I am excited at the prospect of a new Hulk movie.
3- Agent Coulson
Introduced in 2008’s Iron Man he was a passive supporting character. Over the years though he has evolved from bumbling SHIELD agent to a relatable common man amongst heroes. With just cameos and time they were able to make Agent Coulson the backbone of The Avengers. He became a representation for all the good that the team does. While the writing for Coulson is good this all rests on the shoulders of actor Clark Gregg. He has been able to create this dorky yet heroic character from a seemingly bit part. A bit part that became a crucial one in The Avengers. Originally a wink and a nod to the comic book fans Agent Coulson has gone from cult character and became a full-fledged hero in his own right. Not bad for a lowly SHIELD agent.
Going into the film one of the things I was looking forward to was the introduction of Hawkeye. It’s not even that I am a massive fan of the character either. I was just curious to see if Whedon would have “the guy with the bow and arrows” could make him fit in the team. Any worries I had were dashed away within the first five minutes. Even more surprising though they actually gave him a role in the team I had never seen in the comics. The name made more sense than ever. Another thing I enjoyed was the partnership between Hawkeye and Black Widow. The two had great chemistry and had me really excited for what a SHIELD movie could be.
5- Expanding The Marvel Universe
The big point of The Avengers is to bring the Marvel Movie Universe together; get all of the superheroes for one epic of a movie. The movie totally delivered in this aspect. I saw things a bit differently though. I was actually more interested in how the movie expanded the Marvel universe. While the past Marvel films explored everywhere from Asgard to Los Angeles it was in The Avengers where it all came together. Not only that but we got a chance, even if it were briefly, outer space. In essence we saw that the entire world is now opened up.
The king of Atlantis, sure! A sorcerer with a mastery of mysticism, why not? Hell at this point I would absolutely love to see Rocket Raccoon fighting side by side with Iron Man. I guess what I’m trying to say is that at this point anything can now work beyond the pages of a comic book.
And there you have it; the top 5 things I liked about The Avengers. Given they were more just fanboy ramblings but whatever, I think they work. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to find out what the heck schawarma is.