I don’t think many comic book movies have been as anticipated as Marvel’s “The Avengers.” Perhaps, “Superman: The Movie”, the first real comic book film, and perhaps the recent Batman films of Christopher Nolan’s, but this one has been percolating for several years now, teased at at the end of every Marvel movie since “Iron Man” came out in 2008. Well the wait is over and the Avengers have stepped out of the comics and their individual films into comic and cinematic history. The Avengers have “assembled.”
Going in I was really scared. The disastrous “Spider-Man 3” and “X-Men 3” failed because they tried to take on too much in too short of a time. My fear going into it was that with so many things going on in the film and so many larger than life characters, “The Avengers” would fall right into that same trap. There was also the fear leading up to it from the individual films of how much time would be wasted introducing the characters and getting them to sync up. Captain America was an easy fix, as he was unthawed by his movie’s ending. Iron Man wasn’t a problem as he is the most public and available person proposed. The Hulk went to the wind at the end of the Edward Norton version and it would seem that tracking him would involve some time having to be dedicated. The real troublesome spot came at the end of “Thor” when the young god destroyed the Bifrost Bridge to Earth, thereby cutting off access to Midgar. All of these issues were cleared up pretty quickly and efficiently in the film. Although, I will say that Thor’s arrival made absolutely no sense to me. It was functional, however, so I won’t complain too much.
As a movie it was enjoyable even if you are ignorant to all the canon and inside references. The action sequences were seamless, expertly choreographed, and realistically rendered. The humor was nonstop and tastefully done. The showing I went to was full of quality color commentary from my fellow movie goers. Normally, that’s annoying, but there is something really endearing about seeing movies with people that really care about the material they are watching as much as you do.
Though it only has a two and a half hour running time, every second was utilized efficiently, packing in everything a Marvel fan and Avengers aficionado would expect: the S.H.I.E.L.D Helicarrier, “Hulk Smash”, lots of trick shots with Cap’s shield, death defying donning of Iron Man’s armor, and Thor’s hammer Mjolnir bringing the lighting and thunder. All balanced perfectly. And as I alluded to above, despite all of these major egos in one place, the movie balanced them well together, giving everyone their moments, not neglecting anyone. Not even Nick Fury. Portrayed as an aloof player of games in the other Marvel films in which he has appeared, Fury gets his hands dirty in this film, kicking some serious ass. And lucky for the character and the viewer, that ass kicking is done by the incomparable Samuel L. Jackson.
This movie could be up there in the greatest comic movies of all time. I can certainly cite a list of comic movies longer than my arm that didn’t come close to rivaling it. The scope of this film is definitely the largest ever attempted. No matter how you look at it, however, it is a must see for comic fans and non-comic fans alike. And as always with comic book movies, stay until after the credits. There is a very tantalizing Easter Egg afterward . . .