Case in point: The Avengers.
Before going to see this movie, I considered it highly hyped. I know that with this cast, and with Joss Whedon as director, Russ and I were expecting great things. No, better than great things—fantastic things!
And we were not disappointed.
At the risk of sounding like a gushing fan girl, I have to say that The Avengers is the best superhero movie I’ve ever seen. Now, I’m sort of new to the genre, but after having watched all of the feed-in movies last week, and waxing eloquent about most of them, even in light of all that, I still think The Avengers was EVEN BETTER.
This might come down to a case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Yes, each of these Marvel superhero characters is interesting and compelling and fascinating and whatever superlative adjectives you might want to use in their own right, but what really takes the whole experience over the top, I think, is putting them all together in one room and watching how they interact with each other.
I asked Russ afterwards which he thought the best scene in the movie was, and he said that scene in the beginning when they all first meet, and the conversation that goes on between them, because it’s so real, and so in character, and so exactly how each of them would react to the others. Here we have a group of extremely distinct personalities. Not only do their superpowers differ from each other, but these powers have been granted or visited upon people who are strong characters in their own right, even without superpowers. You throw superpowers on top of such strong personalities, and…kaboom! And then you put all those super personalities and powers together in one room and…DOUBLE KABOOM!
That was the most fun for me. Watching them all get along (or, sometimes, NOT get along) with each other. And, in the end, when push comes to shove, seeing them band together.
I very much enjoyed the new and improved Bruce Banner. Not only is he now being portrayed by a different actor (Mark Ruffalo) but I also sensed a subtle change in his demeanor. He’s still dealing with his overwhelming angst about “The Other Guy,” as he refers to Hulk, but I enjoyed seeing him at work, having something to do, being a brilliant scientist. And of course he and Tony Stark hit it off right away, which is as it should be, and was a lot of fun. It was nice that Betty Ross did not make an appearance in this movie. Frankly, she would have had nothing to add to the storyline, and she may have just got our Dr. Bruce acting all sappy and whiny again. Glad that didn’t happen.
Thor returns to Earth on a mission, and there is a brief nod to his love interest, Jane Foster, where we find out that she is safe. And then we don’t hear from her or talk about her again. Because this is not her movie. We may see more of Jane Foster in Thor 2, scheduled for release in November 2013. But right now, Thor’s kinda too busy for her.
One character I’m glad we got to see a lot more of is Nick Fury. So far, I’ve only known him as this mysterious figure who shows up to invite people to be an Avenger, but now we really get to see his leadership qualities. And he’s pretty good with a bazooka too.
There’s only one girl in this group, Natasha, the Black Widow, and we have a few good scenes that flesh her out more as a character. We hear a bit about her past, get a hint of what motivates her, and for the first time sense some vulnerability, making her seem more human than she did in Iron Man 2. This time around I felt she was a little more than simply window dressing, a “Wow!” factor for all the males in the audience. She’s still all that, of course, but she’s also starting to feel more like a real person.
I was also glad to see Agent Coulson in this one, even as he has been in all the feed-in movies to date, and I especially enjoyed his fanboy adoration of Captain America. That would, of course, fit right in with his character. In fact, I would almost be surprised if it wasn’t Captain America that inspired him to pursue the career path that ultimately puts him in SHIELD. Coulson had some good lines…and some very powerful scenes.
As for Cap, I am gaining even more appreciation for his character. Since he is so much of a leader, seeing him in a group of superheroes, many of whom are natural leaders in their own right, really gives him the chance to shine as a leader. And as a member of a team. The “fish out of water” stuff was also fun.
In fact, there’s so much fun in this movie, that a couple of times the audience was laughing so much, we couldn’t hear the next line. No, it’s not a comedy, but there are some good comic lines. I won’t spoil any of them for you here (in case you haven’t seen the movie yet, and if you haven’t, shame on you! Get ye to a movie theatre, pronto!). On top of that, though, I’m pretty certain I’m lacking the “Joke Gene” in my DNA, because I generally have a terrible time remembering jokes. A ouple of really funny ones do stick out, though, but to repeat them here would not do them justice. Really: Just go see for yourself.
Many many months ago, when Russ and I heard that Joss Whedon was going to direct The Avengers, we found this exciting news. We of course know Joss Whedon from his work on Buffy and Angel, so with that in his resumé, the ample and appropriate use of humor was a given. Another given with Whedon, is that he has no qualms about taking the plot in a direction that other movie directors would never dare attempt. As Russ says, “Nothing’s sacred.” Again, I won’t spoil, but if you haven’t already seen the movie….do be ready for anything.
As all comic book fans know, every band of superheroes must have its supervillains, and Loki stands out as the bad guy in all this. He’s working with this group of aliens who are, at least to me, token aliens, token bad guys. Pretty standard fare. But Loki…oh, he is deliciously evil! Of course, we’ve got all that sibling rivalry with Thor at the bottom of it, and he is after all, the God of Mischief. Still, what goes on here is a lot more than simple mischief. He’s evil, and insane, and so much fun to watch.
Of course, the best part about Loki is seeing him get vanquished in the end. No spoiler here, I’m sure. Obviously the bad guys are not going to come out on top. There’s this terrific battle between our superheroes and the alien forces, played out on the streets of New York City, with the Stark skyscraper in the background. It’s all a bit over the top, if you ask me, but then…hey! We’re dealing with comic book heroes here! Of course it’s over the top! And to any who might scoff, “But that would never happen!” Well…duh! That’s why it’s in a movie! A comic book movie! The final sequence is a rollicking bit of action worthy of the very best battles ever laid out by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby back in the day. Totally worthy, and very likely surpassing anything you might be able to imagine.
I thoroughily enjoyed my first look at The Avengers . This movie cries out for a second viewing. And maybe a third or fourth. It moved so fast, and was so chock full of good stuff, I’m sure I didn’t catch it all on a a first viewing. We saw it in 2D, because we wanted to be able to follow the story and the characters and not be overly distracted by special effects. But now that we have one showing under our belts, we’ve decided to go back in a couple of weeks and see how this thing looks in 3D IMAX. We haven’t seen anything yet in 3D IMAX. We were waiting for a movie worthy of the price of admission for something like that.
And we feel certain that with The Avengers, we’ve picked a winner.