Jackie’s Review (as an avid fan of the comic books)
Oh Joss Whedon. You’ve done it again, and for that I salute you. Marvel’s The Avengers was spectacular from every angle. The action was suspenseful and engaging. The storyline was Marvel-universe worthy. The wit was true to character and perfectly timed for laugh-out-loud moments of comedic relief. In fact, I don’t know the last time I actually belly-laughed in a movie theater. I wasn’t alone, either. The entire theater laughed and clapped and hooted, obviously as engaged as I.
One of the greatest let-downs of any written-media-turned-movie is when the characters don’t line up to their printed-page alter egos. The greatest pleasure? Seeing those characters perfectly represented as if the page actually came alive before you. The Avengers nailed the characterization. Perhaps it was because this movie actually had a comic book lover running and writing the show (Whedon – along with co-writer Zak Penn) and not just some artsy-fartsy Hollywood director who thinks he can improve upon the written story and characters that people already love. In other words, The Avengers movie captured the spirit of comic book through and through.
I had several worries upon entering the theater with my incredibly high bar of expectations. How would they ever do each character justice when there are so many and they each have such strong and distinct personalities? Would they all get enough screen time? Enough time to showcase their powers? Enough purpose to the plot development? Can they pull off the invasion of the Chitauri without making it a cheesy alien film? How will human characters like Captain America, Black Widow, and Hawkeye actually hold weight with those of such power – Thor, Hulk, and the technology-clad Iron Man?
Yes. To everything. The Avengers took the base of what we know from the first character-based movies and hit the ground running. The powers and abilities were fantastic, as was the invasion scene. All in all credit should probably go to what must a spectacular special effects team. All the scenes, especially the final ginormous battle, looked believable and real – fast paced enough with the action in front of the moving camera to keep the eye interested without giving the viewers a headache with fight scenes that are “too fast” to capture. The constant flow between the battling heroes from the camera is what made the teamwork between the characters seem genuine and breathtaking.
They all stepped into their appropriate roles, sealing them as a team and winning the hearts of the viewers. Captain America stepped into the role of leader, moral compass, and natural strategist. Iron Man, the fearless genius who can protect with both his brains and brawn. Thor, the brother of Loki and arguably the most physically powerful. Hulk, a powerhouse with no reserve or hestitation to use his strength. Hawkeye, the eyes of the group. And Black Widow, who can manipulate the enemy with such nonchalant ease he won’t even see what she’s done until she’s already sauntered away (oh yeah! And they made her Russian! That was a HUGE pet peeve of mine in Iron Man 2, so I was quite happy to see them pull her back to her roots.)
In summary I will just say – I want to see it again. And again. And again. And … you get the point.
Hayden’s Review (the non-Avengers reader point of view)
At long last, the superhero event of a lifetime is here. The Avengers, directed by Joss Whedon, features an irresistible mix of action, humor, and heart that reminds us of why we go to the movies. Throw in an ensemble cast, incredible special effects, and awe-inspiring set pieces, and you’ve got a cinematic experience not to be missed. Fans and non-fans alike will be pleased with Whedon’s latest directorial effort.
Loki, the God of Mischief and Thor’s brother, returns to Earth with a powerful new weapon and the threat of an impending alien invasion. In response to this sinister threat, Nick Fury, the mysterious director of S.H.I.E.L.D., calls on Earth’s strongest heroes to stop this new menace from enslaving the human race. Tony Stark(Iron Man), Thor, Steve Rogers(Captain America), Bruce Banner(the Hulk), Natasha Romanoff(Black Widow), and Clint Barton(Hawkeye) must put aside their many differences and confront this new threat.
One of the greatest strengths of the film is its superb cast. Robert Downey, Jr., who brilliantly portrays Tony Stark/Iron Man, steals the show with a commanding screen presence that cannot be ignored. Chris Evans reprises his role as Steve Rogers/Captain America, and he does an excellent job keeping the humanity of the character and bringing the Steve Rogers from the comic books to life. Chris Hemsworth returns as the mighty Thunder God, Thor, and while he seems to play second best to Iron Man and the Hulk, he still gets his moments to show his acting chops and shine onscreen. Tom Hiddleston once again steps into the role of the evil Loki, who goes from the confused, misguided God we saw in Thor to a ruthless villain bent on taking over the planet. Hiddleston makes this transformation believable, but he also makes us feel a bit sorry for Loki. As evil and cruel as he is, there still appears to be a side to him that yearns for acceptance and a sense of belonging. Hiddleston pulls this off effectively and effortlessly, giving us a Loki that is evil and dangerous but also worthy of our sympathy. Scarlett Johansson returns as Natasha Romanoff, who plays a much larger role this time around. Her character turns out to be one of the more engaging players, and Johansson does a phenomenal job portraying her as a skilled fighter struggling with inner anguish. Jeremy Renner, currently one of the most prolific actors in Hollywood, delivers a convincing performance as the formidable Hawkeye. He plays more of a supporting role, but every scene he shows up in is memorable and fun.
Whedon puts a great deal of emphasis on the team dynamic of the Avengers, and the witty banter between Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America, and Thor turns out to be more rewarding than most of the breathtaking action sequences. It is every fanboy’s dream to see these iconic heroes onscreen together, and Whedon succeeds in delivering a satisfying, engaging superhero team up film. But it is not just fanboys and comic fans he is targeting. He attempts to make these heroes appealing and accessible to a broader audience, and luckily, he succeeds. Even if some viewers do not care for superheroes and drawn out action scenes, they will be drawn in by Whedon’s unique brand of charm and wit that will make them care and root for these characters.
Despite the film’s many strengths, there is a weakness that just cannot be ignored. The movie puts more emphasis on certain characters than on others, and many viewers might question why some of the central players did not get a chance to shine or were portrayed as second best.
Overall, though, Joss Whedon’s superhero extravaganza lives up to the hype and exceeds expectations. The movie not only appeals to hardcore fans, but it also manages to drawn in others who may not have been comic geeks before but sure are now. The Avengers stands as a testament to Whedon’s masterful storytelling and to the enduring appeal of superhero films.