It is not often that I see a movie more than once in theaters. The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie and Mean Girls are the only ones that come to mind. In addition, I am quite certain that there has only been one movie that I wanted to see again immediately after the credits finished rolling. And that movie is Marvel’s The Avengers.
The Avengers, helmed by my personal god Joss Whedon (of Buffy and Firefly fame), is the culmination of an unprecedented five films (Iron Man 1 and 2, Thor, Captain America and The Incredible Hulk), with at least three more sequels in the works (Iron Man 3, Captain America 2 and Thor 2) and the idea of two more Avengers movies*. With close to a decade of anticipation and an astronomical budget ($220 million, which makes the gross of $207 million from the opening weekend alone even more impressive), there was a huge amount of pressure on this film. As I practically worship Whedon, I had nothing but faith in the movie, but I had to agree with the sentiment that if it bombed, it would take many careers with it. Fortunately, it is just as amazing as everyone hoped.
The basic premise makes it a seamless sequel to all of the aforementioned films – Thor’s brother, Loki, plans to take over Earth using the power of the Tesseract, the secret weapon used by Hydra in Captain America. Nick Fury, played by the ever magnificent Samuel L. Jackson, recognizing the threat Loki poses, assembles a group of the world’s most powerful, bringing Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, Steve Rogers and Natasha Romanov into a room together for the first time. Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson reprise their roles here, but new to the group is Mark Ruffalo as the third Hulk in as many movies, and in my opinion, the best. He portrays the character as utterly self-loathing, while still being likable to the audience, which is surprisingly unique.
Thor soon joins them, played by the unbelievably hunky Chris Hemsworth, to battle his brother. Tom Hiddleson, as Loki, is one of the stand-out actors of the film, being both whiny and annoying, and utterly terrifying. The scene where he threatens Natasha/Black Widow is absolutely chilling, and we truly feel that not only is he willing to destroy everyone on the planet, he will enjoy every minute of it. His past is no cause for this derangement (being the adopted son of the All Father has it’s perks), so I must agree with Banner when he says, “That guy’s brain is a bag full of cats. You can smell crazy on him.”
This leads me to another point – the writing in this movie is just superb. I expect nothing less from Whedon, as he has a beloved skill of writing tense action, razor sharp wit and utter heartbreak, often all in the same scene. The humor in Avengers in no exception, with a few scenes so funny that I could not catch following lines because the audience was laughing so loud. My personal two favorite punch lines have no dialog, forcing us to recall the beginning of the joke. I won’t give either away, but I will advise all readers to stay all the way through the credits, as there are two bonus scenes for this movie.
As with any other review, I must find one thing to nitpick, and with Avengers, there is really only one thing that I can think of. Through most of the movie, Bruce Banner does his utmost to keep the Hulk at bay, and when he is unleashed, all hell breaks loose. This is standard procedure and no real surprise. However, when the final battle comes and in order to fight Banner must ‘Hulk out’, he suddenly has the beast under control, with no real explanation for what caused this sudden change in demeanor. This may be a deleted scene, or perhaps something I missed, but I was left in confusion about how the Hulk became a choice rather than an affliction.
All in all, a great movie, and definitely one I recommend seeing in theaters – at least once.
* Also, there may be a Nick Fury movie. Crazy!