Avengers Impressions (Spoiler Free) –
So it’s official, The Avengers is incredibly successful and people are falling over each other to pack themselves into the theatres across the country and get in on the blockbuster. As relatively active comic book fan I’ve been very happy with the direction Marvel has been taking with their movie properties recently, and The Avengers is no exception.
The story is very light and consists of Loki strolling across the universe to steal a magical cube, and the ensuing adventures of our heroes trying to retrieve it. As far as action movies go, it’s pretty much par for the course, but as a plot based on comic books it definitely lacks the complex narratives that they are known for. Really, I think this works to the movie’s favor, because they already seem to have enough trouble cramming all the continuity in before all hell breaks loose in the final battle sequence.
Now, this leads me to the issue that these films are going to face going forward. I applaud the continuity that they’ve included, but the reason comic books are able to cram so much into twenty-four pages of colored boxes is because they can assume the reader is familiar with the continuity. Obviously movies don’t have this luxury so the story comes off as a bit shallow. Really, taking the action movie route is the best way to still have broad appeal. The plot does nothing new with the super hero movie genre, instead it does it incredibly well and fits in some hilarious show stopping moments to keep you entertained in between fight scenes.
Of course, with movies like this it all boils down to the characters. I’ve heard some people claim that the movie has no substance, because if it didn’t have Marvel characters then it would be relegated to a B grade action flick. Yes, this might be true, but it’s also true of every action movie. When is the last time you were hyped to watch an action movie starring someone you’ve never heard of?
So, down to brass tacks. A few characters are identical to how they acted in their respective movies. Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man makes all the expected quips, Chris Evans as Captain America stands around with pursed lips looking confused, and Chris Hemsworth as Thor hits things with his hammer. They’re all decent characters in their own right, but there isn’t anything new to be found here. Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye make a complementary, albeit bland, duo. They both have some good scenes, but their best parts are in the final showdown.
This brings us to Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk, replacing Edward Norton who played Banner in the most recent Hulk movie. If you haven’t heard, Ruffalo’s performance combined with the fantastic animation and personality they put into the Hulk completely steal the show. I’m a big Hulk fan, and it’s great to see them make the Hulk into an actual character with personality, not just a ravenous beast that screams and bumbles around. In the comics, Hulk has evolved way past his past as a mindless creature, and it really is a breath of fresh air to see this movie take advantage of him in this way.
The final showdown is definitely a hallmark in modern action movies. It has scale, some very iconic shots that pan across the city, and of course the icing on the cake is getting to see The Avengers do some avenging. My biggest problem, if I had to choose one, is that the villain, Loki, never really feels like a threat. At no point in the film did I ever think that our heroes would suffer any real consequences as a result of their battle with him. They do suffer a loss, but the weight that it has in the film is a little exaggerated. Near the end they try to have one of those clincher scenes where you think something bad might happen, but the edge is taken off because it’s a character that you know is going to come out unscathed.
Overall, this is a solid super hero movie made fantastic with witty dialogue and some amazing scenes. It’s pretty by the numbers, but it’s also genuinely funny and visually amazing. Don’t miss this one if you haven’t seen it yet.