If you’re a comic book movie fan as I am and have seen all the amazing trailers, then the most important question concerning Joss Whedon’s The Avengers that may have entered your mind is: Is this the best comic book movie yet? To that I let you down with a “no.” If you altered the question a bit and let it become: Is this the most entertaining comic book movie yet? I would certainly answer “yes!” It is a very fun film and I hope to watch it again.
As most are well aware, this movie infuses the stories of Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), Bruce Banner/The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Helmsworth) with secret organization S.H.I.E.L.D. officers Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to take on Thor’s evil and misguided adopted brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and an army of other-planetary creatures in a battle for Earth’s people.
Notice I did not say “for Earth.” Loki is evil and arrogant because he wants to rule the planet and he is also misguided in that he genuinely believes the people will be happier living this way, kneeling to him alone. He believes that he, in his almost god-like status, has a better vision for humankind. Captain America, the polite World War II veteran with values from another decade puts Loki (and Thor for that matter) in place best when he says, “There is only one God… and He certainly doesn’t dress like that!”
Other than Captain America, this movie truly fits the title (instead of having one such as The Protectors) because most of these characters are almost antiheroes, carrying such baggage as vain conceit to staggering self-loathing. Between the god complexes and insecurities only a mother could bring comfort to, I see a film that paints a world in need of a savior, the real Savior. While this feeling never left me, the movie does take these epic protagonists, flaws and all, through character arcs that leave us with a better image of them as a team than they ever were alone.
What really makes this film unique is the fact that it is an origin story of a bunch of already-fleshed-out origin stories! This is the first film that I can think of which has created prior stand-alone prequel films with this scale of collaboration in mind. The movie anticipates that the world knows these characters because everyone has seen them on the big screen, so there are not many VH1 “Where Are They Now?”-style sequences involved. Instead we are thrust in the middle of an imminent danger and must just react in the best way we know how. With less pushback than I anticipated, the superheroes assemble to take on a force bigger than themselves. It is really through this process of learning to cooperate that these misfits truly become what we have always wanted them to be: heroes. This is sparked by the death of a character (to be left nameless here) whose blood can literally be seen on their hands (or at least a picture of their hands). If they had come together sooner rather than later they would not be one person short.
The Avengers entails many intense battle scenes but is also peppered with quality humor. In the case of a showdown between Hulk and Loki, you can actually see both at the same time! I felt like I was watching the grand finale of a fireworks display on the Fourth of July for a large portion of the movie. It provides a pretty good adrenaline rush and allows the inner-kid in us all to get a little excited and let our imaginations be massaged. Yet it also inspires us all to put aside our difference and work together.
The Avengers reminds us of a broken world filled with broken heroes who need to be a part of something more than our own egos and day-to-day ventures. To discover true heroics which have already saved and need not avenge, one must simply look up. Look past the towering green shoulders of The Hulk, past the lit-up Stark Tower and beyond even the skies from which Thor brings his thunder. See beyond a soldier with the name of but one country and discover a God who unites us all. Oh, and don’t forget the popcorn.