So I searched The ThinkMcflyThink site, and I didn't come across a review for The Avengers. Thinking I must have just missed it, I searched again, and still found nothing. So, I am fixing this issue by publishing my own review of the movie. Considering how Man of Steel turned out, some readers may find my "letter" to Zack Snyder at this end of this review quite spot on.
So The Avengers eh? Not being a Marvel guy myself, I can say I was curious how this would turn out. I don’t have any ties to these characters per se, other than enjoying Iron Man and Captain America. The First Avenger especially was a very nice surprise. It was great to see a so-called “old-fashioned” character pulled off so well in a modern movie.
There were no apologies made for Cap, he was presented straight from the pages of the comic complete with stars and stripes and a clear sense of right and wrong. I really respected what the filmmakers did with him, especially amid all the talk about changing Superman in the future movies to fit a more cynical, jaded age. This was very much a “take it or leave it” take on Captain America and that excited me on its own.
I always thought that if there were one character I would really take to in the Marvel universe, it would be Captain America based solely on his heroic qualities and strong moral compass. He’s very much the Superman of the group, a leader who takes charge when the moment calls for it and can also be a bit naïve and headstrong as well. Imagine my surprise when I found myself loving Iron Man just as much.
As I mentioned earlier, before seeing the first Iron Man film, I knew next to nothing about the character. I didn’t except much from it, but I thought the casting of Robert Downey Jr. was an interesting choice. Sure, the villain was pretty weak, but it had this sense of fun (and who am I kidding, he flew!) that made me overlook nearly every other problem I had. Downey nailed the role and really elevated the material. To this day, I have a hard time deciding which film I like better, so I just call it a tie.
But enough about the set-up films, this is an Avengers review right? It’s with this background, that I sat in the theater this weekend and watched what many comic book fans have waited their whole lives to see. A team-up of the greatest heroes in the Marvel canon (sans Spider-Man for reasons I still don’t understand). I knew the bare essentials; Loki, Thor’s brother and main antagonist from last year’s Thor, was once again, the main baddie in this one. This was a good decision in my opinion because Thor was a nice surprise as well and Loki as the villain was outstanding and really conveyed a sense of menace and dread. If there’s one complaint I can level at all recent superhero movies, outside of the recent Batman films, is that I’ve found almost all of the villains to be uninspiring. When I watched Thor for the first time a few weeks ago as preparation for Avengers, I found Loki to be the best villain in the Marvel films by far.
I actually find this movie to be hard to review simply because I view it as a piece of a much larger whole, the culmination of something that was started back in 2008 with Iron Man. Even as a DC guy, there was a part of me that always wanted to see Marvel pull this off, simply because it had never been done before. My questions always were; how will they manage having four main characters in one film and treat them all equally? The script, I was sure, would be a giant mess, juggling the action and trying to have enough character moments to try to keep fans of all four happy. There was no way this would be any more than a curiosity, a stepping stone to show the next wave of superhero filmmakers what not to do. Well, I was wrong. I can say, as a DC fan at heart, Marvel pulled it off and they pulled it off big. I LOVED this film!
I’m not going to rehash the plot, because I’m sure most of you reading this have already seen it. The character interaction is what sells this movie for me. Seeing Steve Rogers and Tony Stark go at it, where you can see their conflicting ideologies so clearly, and yet still root for both of them, was amazing. During that scene, all I could think of was that I was watching the Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne of the Marvel universe and how perfect each actor had nailed their respective characters.
Chris Evans was spot on in Captain America and I thought he was even better here. I’m not a religious man in the least, but his line about how there is only one God and “I don’t think he looks like that” was perfect. That’s exactly how Cap would respond and it put a big smile on my face. The scene in Germany where he references the last time he was there, what he had seen and how he will never stand for it, the whole subplot with the trading cards, the giving of orders to a NYC policeman, this was a Steve Rogers willing to do whatever it took to win, a true leader.
Downey Jr. was all aces again in the role of Tony Stark. I can say that outside of Chris Reeve as Superman, Downey is my favorite piece of superhero casting ever. He steals nearly every scene he’s in, which in this movie is no small feat. He’s the comic relief, but if things get serious, he can be counted on to do what needs to be done. The scene where he threatens Loki alone is worth the price of admission. I still find the Iron Man flying effects a sight to behold. It just looks like so much fun and again, not since Reeve have I seen that on film.
That brings us to Hulk and Thor. Hulk has had two films previously, both of which failed to ignite the box office. Marvel hopes his inclusion in this will spark resurgence on film. While I am not of the belief that he steals the film, this is the best version of the character since the 70’s TV series. Mark Ruffalo makes a very believable Bruce Banner and I loved how they built up to showing the Hulk. Ruffalo did a great job of showing remorse for his actions and trying his best to look out for the other members of the team. When he does finally switch to Hulk form, the audience, while excited, feels bad for him. Therein, lies the greatness of the Hulk; he’s a Frankenstein’s monster like character sure, but he has a real heart, something that can be hard to translate to the screen and I think the scenes with Bruce Banner do a fantastic job of bringing that point home.
Thor is someone I had no interest in, only getting around to seeing his solo movie a few weeks ago, but now I’ve done a complete about face. The movie was better than it had any right to be and most of all, Chris Hemsworth in the title role made me believe. Yes, Thor is a God among men when he lands on Earth, but by the end of the film he has all but transformed. Being introduced to love and truly seeing what an ego can do how it can separate family members and above all, how important siblings are, whether right or wrong, was something I didn’t expect from the film. Hemsworth delivered a performance; really taking what could very easily be a one note character and making him much more. In Avengers, with his brother causing the destruction, you really see the fine line he walks between caring for his brother and being disgusted by him. Granted, he doesn’t have as much to do in the film as Cap or Iron Man do, in my opinion, but when he is on screen he commands it.
In all honesty, I haven’t enjoyed a superhero movie this much in years. This hit all the right notes for me and really has persuaded me to take more of an interest in these characters and their worlds. Well done Marvel. You got a DC fan to admit to loving the holy hell out of your big team-up film.
Now, if I may close with a note to Zack Snyder:
You see this Zack? You see the excitement surrounding the film? How fathers are bringing their sons and daughters, how it’s crossing generations? This is what I need you to do with the best superhero of all time next year. Make them believe, show them something they have never seen before, and make sure Superman is the only guy who can make everything all right again. Help everyone remember why they loved Superman in the first place. I don’t want to see moping around, a Clark Kent full of uncertainty, and a threat the Avengers could fix in 45 minutes. I want to see a take charge Superman, with a threat that only he can solve. Do that and you’ll have a winner on your hands. I want to see excitement, lines stretching around the theater, like I saw this weekend. Superman can make all this happen. It’s your turn Zack, don’t let me down.