“And there came a day, a day unlike any other, when Earth’s mightiest heroes found themselves united against a common threat: to fight the foes no single superhero could withstand. On that day, The Avengers were born.”
The now famous first quote of Avengers issue #1, first published in 1963. Now, almost five decades later, The Avengers make their way to the big screen. And man, oh man, what an entrance they make.
Marvel has been leading up to this movie since they first released Iron Man in 2008. If you are familiar with these movies (how can you not be!), then you know what Marvel Studios has been doing with their movies, interconnecting them just like they do with their comics. From the first extra scene in Iron Man, where Nick Fury reveals himself and mentions to Tony about the “Avengers Initiative,” to the last movie, Captain America: First Avenger, that marked the rescue and return of Captain America, and the teaser trailer for The Avengers, this has been a movie long anticipated. So I, with probably thousands of fans throughout the US (Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Miami), lined up early for a shot to get into a special advance screening of the movie. And luckily, thanks to a lack of sleep and camping out, I was able to be one of the first group of fans to see The Avengers assemble on screen.
The Avengers stars Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark (Iron Man), Chris Evans as Steve Rogers (Captain America), Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Mark Ruffalo as Dr. Bruce Banner (The Hulk), Scarlett Johanssen as Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow), Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton (Hawkeye), Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson, Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, and Tom Hiddleston as the main villain, Loki. Directed by geek-fans favorite Joss Whedon (Buffy, Firefly, Serenity), the film does a great job in taking all these big names, putting them together in one action packed film, and having it be a perfect balance of screen time, dialogue, fight montages, and the more-than-occasional humor (which was done very well). I won’t spoil details of the whole story, but will break down what is mostly common knowledge at this point if you’ve seen the previous Marvel movies, and have paid attention to the trailers and clips of the movie.
Loki, brother of Thor finds his way from what was believed death to Earth to wage war on the humans and enslave them all. He has the backing of an alien race, whose main goal in helping Loki gain vengeance on his brother’s beloved Earth is to get their hands on the cosmic cube (seen in Captain America: The First Avenger) for their mysterious leader. If you know about Loki, you know that he is considered the god of mischief, and he causes all kinds of mischief in this movie. The main thing is taking the only threat to him, the superheroes of the world, and causing them to go against each other. I guess it’s what you would expect when you have a soldier that never questions orders, a billionaire playboy playing superhero, a “god,” a monster, and a group of spies. All individuals that must put aside their pride and egos in order to save the world.
One of the things I was looking more forward to was seeing Ruffalo play Banner & Hulk. Now with motion capture technology, Hollywood can make these CGI characters like the Hulk be the very persona of the actor (kind of like James Cameron did with his actors in Avatar). I must say, Ruffalo stands his ground in this movie. He plays a convincing Banner, who, for obvious reasons, works on trying to control himself and not turn into the big monster. But when Hulk is finally unleashed, the facial patterns, the mean and angry looks are, in my opinion, spot on. Knowing that Ruffalo did all these actions himself makes him a great addition to the team. Now, I’m not saying he is better than Edward Norton, but he holds his own. Even the occasional sly smile that Hulk gives in the movie are everything a Hulk fan would love. The Hulk has evolved in the comics from just being this mean monster to a character that has personality and charisma. So kudos to Ruffalo and Whedon for giving us a Hulk that is more than just “Hulk Smash.”
Another real dubious point was how Scarlett would do in a more pivotal role as Black Widow. I must say, she didn’t disappoint. I know in the fanboy world, many would rather see another actress in the role, but Scarlett gives a surprisingly impressive performance. Her fight scenes are good and equal to many of the other big time heroes, but her performance as Black Widow, the spy, really stands out. There is one scene where she even deceives the “god of mischief” Loki which is very well done. You can tell that being around the big boys really helps in her performance. As a matter of fact, that can be said for everyone. It seemed like those who are the weakest links get stronger because of the others around them, which is nice to see in a movie like this.
No need to breakdown Renner’s performance, as he excells. He embodies Hawkeye to the letter in my opinion. There isn’t enough of Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill to really compare her to the Hill of the comics, but that’s okay, as more isn’t needed. And Gregg, who has become a fan favorite as Agent Coulson (who by the way was made for the movie, but finally made his debut in the Marvel comics universe in Battle Scars Issue #6 that came out April 25, 2012) plays a pivotal role in this movie. He again does a great job as Coulson, and we get to see him in action as well.
There is a point that really stands out for me in this movie. Early on, Captain America is ready to throw himself into battle, when Black Widow tells him that maybe he should sit it out because at this point it’s a fight between “gods.” He looks at her and says “Sorry, but there is only one God, and he doesn’t dress like them.” Okay, so that last part is a little funny, but the first part is so true. There is only one God. There is only one savior, and His name is Jesus. Loki in this movie has an idea that freedom is a failed concept. That humans are to be ruled and enslaved.
“You know why you won’t win; it’s because you have no conviction.“ - Agent Coulson
Freedom is not democracy. It’s not what we think or believe it is. True freedom only comes through Jesus Christ. We were once slaves to sin and death, but Jesus, by dying on the cross, and then being raised again to life, he freed us from that. All He asks of us is to abide in His word (John 8:31). It’s easy to live a sinful life, or a life with no conviction. But abiding in Christ is simply this: “Greater Love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Having a servant heart, putting others before ourselves, that is truly heroic.
From the start of the movie, to the very end, The Avengers is a thrill ride, but also an emotional journey. You laugh, you cry, you get angry, and you jump with joy. It is truly an epic adventure. I normally don’t see movies in IMAX 3D, because frankly I feel it’s an expensive gimmick that I never really see or feel a difference in. Having this movie shown to me in the advance screening in IMAX 3D, I can say this: were I to go see it again when it comes out, that expensive gimmick will be my ticket in. The sound, the image, all spectacular. And I highly recommend that, for this movie, you see it in IMAX 3D. It is truly amazing.
The Avengers assemble on the big screen today, May 4, 2012. Oh, and like all Marvel movies, make sure you stay through the credits… well, the first part of the credits, as there is a teaser of what to expect for the sequel (hint: you get to know who is the leader that granted Loki the use of his army, and it’s infinitely amazing).