So here it is.
The massive big huge meeting of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's heroes. A plan of many years (and oh so many dollars) finally coming to a head. Financially of course the film was a huge success. I've seen it been largely accepted as a very popular film. However we were all awfully hyped up by how cool it was to see all these heroes on film together. Now that it's been a couple years does The Avengers hold up? I figure it’s time to find that out, and not just because you all told me.
The film opens quite like its comic book medium inspiration. We get some mysterious guy monologing, glimpses of our main badguy, Loki, and the glowing blue cube from Captain America. It's a good tease and like I said reminds me of the opening panels for a comic book. We then find ourselves in the desert where SHIELD, who has finally figured out that whole acronym thing, has been studying the Tesseract or as I call it the Cube of McGuffin. We’re quickly introduced to Nick Fury (I AM TIRED OF MAKING CAMEOS IN ALL THESE MOTHER FRAKING MOVIES, I WANT TO BE A MAIN CHARACTER!), Maria Hill (Kids did I ever tell you about the time your Aunt Robin was totally badass?), and everybody’s favorite everyman secret agent Philp Coulson (Man hope he gets his own show or something).
Seems the magic cube from earlier has been acting up. Dr. Eric, calling him that because writing his first name is easier, from Thor is there because nobody told him his extra credit scene from Thor was over. He and Hawkeye have been watching over the cube since that MCU movie. As they are having their scene another person from the Thor movie pops up, Loki. After a chorus of fan girl cries louder than when David Tennant popped up on screen during the Day of the Doctor, Loki proceeds to kick all sorts of ass because he’s well a super strong alien and he’s wielding a kick as staff.
Man I guess I shouldn't have given crap to Stark about Rody taking his suit.
Loki didn’t particularly grab my attention. This gives him a good intro and gives him some quick allies. Of course his mind altering staff probably helps with that, though I have to ask if it’s a mind control staff…why does it work by touching someone’s chest? Loki and his new besties though quickly make off with the Tesseract despite being chased by Maria Hill. Well things look bad for SHIELD, someone wrecked their place, stole their magic box, and a couple of their people. Who you going to call? Well not the Ghostbusters, nope Fury needs some brains, brawn, and uhh more brains. Brains are going to come from Bruce Banner and Tony Stark. Brawn comes from another pair, one of which we meet next.
.....Huh? Oh right I'm supposed to make a joke here....ummm......sorry but the fact that's she's really hot is too distracting.
Natasha Romanov’s intro doesn’t seem to be going well for her. Tied up, a little roughed up, a couple Russian thugs and a rouge general threatening to kill her. However this intro like many of the others in the film is designed to give us a glimpse at who Black Widow is. A phone call from Coulson let’s her know what’s up. At first Widow was bit annoyed as Phil is interrupting her interrogation of the Russian general. See the whole thing hasn’t been Natasha in peril, but playing to what these guys expect. They just see her as another pretty face…not a master assassin who then proceeds to kick their asses, while tied to chair, in a black cocktail dress, and ripped up hosiery…okay she’s a pretty face and badass.
Actually the scene as I said shows us what we need to know about Black Widow. She’s a manipulator. Not in a bad way (unless you’re against her I guess) but Natasha is an expert at showing you what you expect and using it against her. It also shows if she pissed you best surrender before her legs get around your neck and snap it. Widow pads away in her stocking feet but learns her next assignment might not be so easy. The scene also is a nice bit of reflection. Here Black Widow is dealing with what seems really important stuff, arms dealing Russian rouges. However this kind of thing becomes peanuts compared to what we encounter later in the film.
She heads off to collect Bruce Banner. And if you don’t know that name what hole have you been hiding in for the past uhhh past century? He’s keeping low on the sub-continent trying to help people. He’s also trying to keep the ‘other guy’ as Banner keeps calling him under control. Widow with a little help from a grifting kid gets Banner to meet. Here we get another good intro. Mark Ruffalo got the job of standing in for Edward Norton who was the last Hulk. He does actually a better job than Norton did IMHO. He has an edge to him that conveys that hidden monster that lies inside him. I particularly like how he teases Widow a bit, seemingly getting angry but in the end just messing around; though Widow clearly was scared which I liked seeing, conveys that the ‘other guy’ is one to worry about.
Tony Stark’s intro is of course purely him. By this point it was clear RDJ can wear Tony’s character like a second skin. He was pretty much the perfect choice to play Iron Man. We get to see Stark’s sense of ‘I’m the best’, determined to change the world, and that he does love Pepper Potts…though he does a good job of putting his foot in his mouth. Coulson stops by and gives him the big info dump on what’s happening. One thing to note is the banter between everyone here is really good. Pepper and Tony especially talking in that way you know a long time couple would. I also like how Pepper gets along so well with Coulson (I demand a short to explore this!) as small bit as it is. Just shows one of the stronger points of Josh Whedon abilities to write/direct.
Tony pretty much lives the idea, 'I'm sorry but I can't hear you over how awesome I am'.
However my favorite intro of any character in this film is held by Captain Steve Rodgers, Captain America, who shall be known as Cap from hear out cause he is awesome. I know some of the deleted scenes were to cover a bit of Cap having to deal with the modern world but his intro, punching that bag, coupled with his flashbacks just conveys everything he feels. The man out of time who won the war but never got to live the life he wanted too. Chris Evans actually gets lots of props from me, I think he does Cap just as well as RDJ does Stark.
Man, I'm out of time; I lost my girl; my friends are gone...well at least HYDRA was taken care of.
All in all the opening act of the film works quite well. One of the things I believe the film should be judged on is its ability to stand on its own. Sure The Avengers is the culmination of five different films and a lot of work by Marvel Studios, but it should still stand by itself. Largely I believe it does. You get enough backstory to understand what’s going on with the major characters without needing too much detail. Hawkeye & Black Widow are SHIELD and have a connection. Banner is the Hulk, made that way by an accident. Iron Man is well Iron Man. Captain America is a WWII hero in the modern age. Fury is in charge and mysterious. Loki is the badguy, more on that later. I think a few things probably get loss if you weren’t watching the other movies but not enough to really fault the film
.Wow I mean....wow, I mean this is so awesome Cap. It's like my life is complete, I could die now knowing I met you.
While SHIELD is figuring itself out, Loki and Barton have assembled who they need. It’s never made clear whether everyone is under Loki’s control or not, Hawkeye just mentions SHIELD has enemies and that’s where they’ve collected people. Loki has a heart to heart with the mouthpiece of the guy backing him (Thanos COUGH Thanos COUGH). Basically he just bitches as Loki to get his ass moving and Loki just says, ‘alright alright, get off my back already’. Dr. Eric reveals that he needs some Iridium to make the dohicky he’s building work. Hawkeye thinks he can get it but needs a little help from Loki.
The first rule about new actor club, don't talk about the old actor, right Don?
We next get one of my favorite scenes where Coulson and Cap are heading to the rallying point for SHIELD. Coulson stands in for just about every fan because he’s getting to hang out with his hero. It’s funny; it’s a great little character moment, and also one of those things that made me love Coulson. He’s my Jim Gordon for this movie. The normal guy surrounded by the extraordinary events. They land on a funky looking aircraft carrier. They’re met by Widow and Banner which then reveals that the reason for the odd looking aircraft carrier is actually a heli-carrier. Now I’m a big military guy and I know these are pretty impractical but…the heli-carrier is too damn cool LOL. With everybody onboard, the team works out what they need to do to find the cube. Banner is going to do his science stuff while Cap tries to be cool as Coulson geeks out over having him sign his collectible cards (in nearly mint condition).
Phil...please stop staring at me like that....
Loki and his guys turn up in Germany. While Hawkeye makes with the arrow work and thievery, Loki shows off his stuff. I really enjoy Loki’s scene here as he pretty much shows off why people like him as a villain. He’s got a sense of style, blending in just before going all evil. The best part is as he uses his horrifying eye ripper out machine…okay rephrasing that so it doesn’t sound like I’m endorsing eye removal viva something that looks like the inside of a food processor. The great thing about Loki here is you see the pure pleasure he has in being evil for evil’s sake. The little grin he has while looking at everybody being terrified of his optical thievery. SHILED finds out about all of this, with Fury sending Cap to bring the fisty cuffs.
The eye helps Hawkeye steal the special meteorite stuff and Loki decides to do his gran villain introduction to the Earth. Terrifying the crowd with his illusions and giving a big speech about how much easier it is to be ruled, he’s stood up to by a survivor of the Second World War. Loki prepares to make an example of the guy but that’s when Cap makes his awesome entrance. I do love how Cap references the last guy in Germany he had a disagreement with. We get a nice quick fight scene with Cap doing his best to hold his own against Loki. Widow flies support in a SHIELD jet but can’t get a shot off. But before we can get much further the movie remembers, ‘oh right Avengers; we should have one show up’. Arriving with his typical fanfare, Iron Man crashes the party blasting Loki and then pointing the arsenal of small country at him.
On the way back to the heli-carrier, Cap points out the obvious, why did Loki surrender so easily? Stark is less concerned with that than he is at making jokes about Cap being displaced from time. A little lighting occurs with the heroes chiding Loki for looking a bit concerned. I do love Loki’s response though, ‘I’m not overly fond of what follows’. Now we reach the point in the movie I have sigh at. Thor makes his introduction and by introduction I mean, gives dumb reason for heroes to fight. He boards, takes Loki and Stark, being the model of self-control he is, chases after him. Widow is smart enough to stay out of that one but Cap proceeds to show why he rocks by going to put an end to this crap.
Loki and Thor have a pretty good scene which I’ll give credit to. Despite what’s happened between them, Thor still cares for Loki as a brother. To Thor’s credit it doesn’t even seem he cares about Loki not being pure Asgardian either. Loki rants about things you’d expect him too. I was denied my birthright, you suck Thor, and I have daddy issues. Thor tries to argue these points and figure out who is pulling the strings on Loki. Though his investigation is stopped, a bit like the movie as Iron Man comes to fight Thor. There’s nothing wrong with the fight from an action perspective but I just feels like things come to a halt here so they can fight. I mean at least later the Avengers bickering among themselves can be blamed on Loki’s inference, I need more of a reason for Thor and Iron Man to fight other than Stark being a dick. I mean come on he’s a dick to EVERYBODY. I do like how the fight is wrapped up though with Cap basically trying to talk to Thor and not engaging in the fight other than to just block a strike by Thor’s hammer; which had to yield to Captain America’s mighty
Guys come on, I expect this crap from DC not us!
Much like How It Should Have Ended’s take on this, I would have asked why Loki didn’t run away here but apparently the genius, solider, spy, and god who knows the badguy don’t question it. I guess Fury had paid for all those SHIELD guys to walk Loki down to his cell, establishing a shot that would be ripped off again, again, AND again by every other movie. Come on you know which one I’m talking about, but I digress. Anyway Loki and Fury have another talk though this time Fury avoids being shot. Loki mocks them some more (does he get a bonus every time he does it?) and the team debates what Loki wants.
Thor informs them Loki has an army the Chitauri (by the way I’m not spelling that twenty more times so aliens shall be used from this point forwards). Thor’s clueless on where they came from (which begs a question from me. Did Thanos create them for Loki to use; were they already an alien race?). It’s quickly worked out by the royal smart people, Banner and Stark that Loki intends to use the cube to make a wormhole to allow the aliens to invade. Stark is hilarious as he this time acts like an ass but with a purpose, planting something on the console Fury usually uses.
You see thou now is the thinking Thor, I hammer, therefore I am!
Things settle down as everyone plays to their strengths. Banner and Stark work on tracking down the magic cube though Stark continues to annoy Cap. Stark reveals he’s working on hacking SHIELD at that moment but his seemingly flippant attitude annoys the hell out of Cap. Banner while not as rude as Stark does agree with Stark that something is off. SHIELD was supposedly working on the Tesseract (by the way, I spelled that correctly each time I’ve written this so there 2nd Grade teacher who says I cann’t spell!) for energy research, if that was the case why not bring in Stark, who was in the dark about it. While Cap is frustrated by Stark, he does think he had a point. Cap now plays to his strong point by going to find out an answer. He does what he think is right, doesn’t play around.
This the Avenger's equivalent of the 'you're a dick' scene from X-Men
Thor meanwhile is worrying bizarrely about Jane Foster. If you hadn’t watched any Marvel films before this point your wondering; uhhh whose that? If you have watched it, you’re going, ughhh NOBODY CARES. Seriously Marvel nobody cares about Jane Foster, hell not even Natalie Portman cares about her. Anyway, Thor mulls talking to Loki but he’s being too slow doing thinking poses so Widow takes care of it. She once again shows off her manipulative skills. Getting Loki to rant she realizes that the trickster’s plan is to entice Banner and turn the Hulk loose upon the heli-carrier.
Listen, this is a super secret spy agency. Hell, I don't know half of what's going on here. Sometimes I feel like there's this whole conspiracy movement within SHIELD, though of course that's crazy talk!
Several things come to head now as we get all our heroes in one room, where they can have a major freak out. See turns out Fury, the spy, didn’t tell them everything. The Tesseract’s power was going to be used for, well what it was used for in Captain America; weapons. SHIELD wanted a powerful new weapon to deal with not just alien threats revealed by Thor but also the increasing number of powered people popping up around the world. The bickering becomes thick as everyone finds something about someone else to piss them off. Cap and Iron Man get into it, while Banner starts to get madder that SHIELD wanted to make weapons. While Widow understands the idea and tries to explain it, Banner just gets more pissed. He also notes how Loki’s prison is not what the thing was designed for. Obviously it was met to deal with the Hulk. I like how Ruffalo somewhat steals the scene a bit. You know him getting mad is dangerous and you can feel the tension rising as he talks. I also really liked how he shares that he tried to kill himself, only for the ‘other guy’ to spit out the bullet. Things seem to be exploding till Cap asks Banner to put down Loki’s magic staff.
While Loki was messing with the not quite yet Avengers, Hawkeye snuck up on the heli-carrier and continues to make use of arrows in such a way you’d think they’re the greatest battlefield implement in history. He proceeds to not only wreck a turbine of the carrier with one, but also has a USB arrow apparently. As the bad guys storm the carrier, the resulting fight causes Banner to lose it. He transforms into the Hulk (with a nice pleading look from the partly transformed Banner to Widow). As she runs from the Hulk, fighting breaks out all over the carrier, Cap and Iron Man team up to fix the engine.
Thor tries to take on the Hulk managing to somewhat hold his own. It’s a good fight and I like how the two battle it out. Here I don’t feel the hero fight is as much a distraction as earlier because Banner is a bit out of control plus it was part of Loki’s plan. Things move nice and quickly too during this bit. With action for just about everybody, and despite all their bickering earlier; Cap and Stark work smoothly together. Fury uses a fighter to distract Hulk (wonder how the pilot felt about that) which leads to Hulk jumping out of the carrier. Hey problem solved! Another arises though as Hawkeye uses his special USB hacking arrow to shut down another engine.
With the heli-carrier very slowly crashing, Loki aims to make his mistake. He has a very good point when he chides Thor for falling for one of his illusions, again. With Thor locked up in the special anti-Hulk cell, it’s up to my everyday man Coulson to save the day. Alright! He’s even packing a big ass gun…this will be awesome get him….WHAT THE FUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Summons Kirk Ham) LOKI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yep, Coulson’s dead. Okay, not quite dead he does blast Loki with the big gun giving Loki the first of many failed crowning moments of awesome for the badguy. Thor doesn’t have long to morn though as Loki drops him from the carrier. Though seems like a bad plan for a guy who can fly.
You might strike me down Loki...but I'll become more powerful than you can imagine...
Widow manages to run into Hawkeye who…was going to Loki? I don’t know but we finally get him and Black Widow fighting. Now how can you overcome special heart/mind control, caused by an alien staff using technology beyond comprehension…oh I guess you smash them in the head…so one frying pan to head fixes all this? Fury finds Coulson just before his final moments. He shares the loss of everybody’s favorite SHIELD agent and what Phil believed in, the Avengers. We get some good bits here between Widow and Hawkeye plus Cap and Iron Man. Stark is angry and unable to handle losing Coulson. Cap is surprisingly calm and lets Stark vent. It’s a nice touch to see them like this after all their bickering.
It’s during this conversation Stark connects his own assholeness with the fact Loki is an even bigger ass. Knowing Loki wants the big show, he figures out where the magic cube and its wormhole opening device will be, NYC at Stark Tower. Cue a quick montage scene, Hawkeye ready to go, and a stolen jet. Oh and the blood stained Cap trading cards Fury showed them, guess that was another of those lies. It’s a nice bit that shows how far Fury is willing to go. I also like how Hill doesn’t comment on it more than just revealing that Phil didn’t have the cards on him. No clear endorsement or disapproval of the plan.
So it’s time for the big showdown. We get a bit of an interlude with Banner waking up to the realization he has no pants and that Thor survived (see told ya you can’t kill the flying person by dropping them). With them on the way we first get some trailer footage as Iron Man squares off with Loki. Stark stalls for a bit so Jarvis can get a new suit ready for Tony. It’s a nice scene which has Stark basically telling Loki that he better not start shit he can’t finish. Even if he does win and conquer the Earth, Stark and his crew will make sure that he doesn’t live to enjoy it.
Yeah, why did you think that was going to work? My head is up here dumbass.
Loki tries to kill him, but RDJ’s contract isn’t up yet so he gets his new suit on and proceeds to watch the wormhole open above NYC. Cue, INVASION! Aliens in their flying chariots of doom begin to descend from the sky and open up with the energy beams. As with most alien invasions, the aliens have a bizarre hatred of cars. I feel like they took out more of these than anything else. Iron Man begins blasting away while the jet carrying Cap, Hawkeye, and Widow crashes. Thor shows up to do some battling with Loki but he’s on the express train to crazy-town so no stopping this now. Besides I mean we kind of want to see the big fight anyway so it would have sucked for peace to work out right now. The last member of the team arrives as Banner casually strolls up in his stolen mopeg.
Think about it, Independence Day, War of the Worlds, Battle LA, aliens hate human motor transport!
We now get the crowning moment of awesome for Banner as he not only transforms fully controlled but punches a rampaging armored space whale brought by the aliens in the face. Cue a HISHE ‘tank missile’ to blow apart the tail of the space whale before it crushes the team and we get the crowning moment of awesome for the Avengers. A PERFECT shot as they all stand ready to fight, alien hordes screaming at them, while the camera pans around them all.
Cue now a whole act of awesome action as every one of the Avengers shows off. You’ve got Cap calling the shots and kicking a bunch of alien ass (he also gets the next best line, “Hulk..smash.” I know a lot of people ribbed on Cap as he kept getting battered but I really liked it. It showed the toll taken on America’s greatest solider. Even with that beating he kept fighting because, that is what Cap is all about. Hawkeye kicks some major ass with his arrows all while quipping with Iron Man and giving everybody intel. Black Widow tears apart any alien son of bitch who gets in her way, sniping with pistols, stealing alien guns, and hijacking a space chariot. Hulk just obliterates everything sent against him because well he’s the Hulk. Thor gets to make it rain….WITH LIGHTING BITCHES! He also joins Hulk for a little smashing action. Then you’ve got Iron Man making all of us which we could fly around in a suit blasting aliens with missiles, lasers, though I’d skip the flight down a spacewhale’s gut. I don’t care how well you sealed that suit Stark that smell is not coming out!
All this needs is some classic music, doves flying in the background, and we'd be in anime
My favorite part of the entire action sequence is the single tracking shot which follows each of the Avengers, jumping from one to another, showing them in action. It’s another great comic medium homage and it just causes your inner kid to squeal with joy. Seriously the entire action sequence at the end here is just damn perfect. It’s a lot going on but I don’t feel any action fatigue that I’ve gotten in films like Star Trek: Into Darkness which just seemed to drag on by the end. I love every minute of the big shown down in The Avengers.
Hawkeye, the Katniss Eveerdeen of the Avengers....oh come on you knew I'd make one Hunger Games joke here!
Plus even in digital form Ruffalo keeps stealing the show. Hulk not only kicks all sorts of ass, but he comically sucker punches Thor in what must have been the biggest laugh in the theater when I first saw it and he gives Loki his just deserts. Ahhh, poor Loki. Ever since he’s done his whole escape from the heli-carrier, he’s just suffering from one failed crowning moment of awesome after another. Coulson shoots him, he catches Hawkeye’s arrow only for it to blow up in his face, and finally the last one…Hulk just smashes the ever living SHIT out him.
And we love it.
Alright besides all the action occurring, Fury has to deal with his bosses. The World Council or whatever they’re called is continuing their job of bitching about everything Fury does. See they think this whole alien invasion thing is a bit of a problem. They want to solve this in typical 1950s fashion. When in doubt, nuke it! (I guess that’s also Ripley and Hick’s solution too). They go over Fury’s eyepatch and send an F-35 to launch a nuke at NYC. Fury gets off the warning and Iron Man final makes the play Cap accused him of not being able to, the sacrifice one. Tony tries to talk to Pepper as he carries the nuke up but it fails. Low on power Stark tosses the nuke threw at the alien base/mothership/whatever. It goes off and because the aliens hadn’t seen Episode I: No One Knows How To Tell Lucas No, they all die once their command ship or whatever is gone. Stark falls through the just barely closing wormhole and Hulk does his buddy a solid by catching him.
Thor senses a great disturbance in the comedic force coming, though can't put his finger on it...
Loki climbs out of his hole to see his final moment of epic failure. Before he can run though the whole of the Avengers are giving him a sweet ass stare down. The world goes mostly Avengers crazy as Fury points out to the council of World Dick’s that now everybody, Earth or Space knowns about the Avengers. Loki and the magic space cube are taken away by Thor. Banner gets employment (and hopefully a lot of health insurance) from Stark. Hawkeye and Widow drive off in a company car, while Cap gets to look cool on the motorcycle. We end with Stark unveiling plans to Pepper on a new tower for his super friends (yes I went there) and we see Loki’s master, Thanos grinning though he won’t be a proper villain till like 2025.
Well....at least I'm still pretty.....
And the Avengers cause everybody to Google shawarma.
So, what do I say?
The Avengers is the most fun I’ve had at a superhero film. Seriously this perfectly conveys how I want to see modern superhero films with a big cast; fun, serious to a certain point, but not forgetting elements of characters. The Dark Knight might be the best superhero film I’ve seen, but this is the one that is the most grin inducing. There are plenty of funny moments but they don’t overwhelm the film. Where Iron Man 2 had too much random banter between characters, this has the right amount. Characterization is great for all involved. Captain America, Black Widow, Thor, Iron Man, and Hulk all get to show themselves. Hawkeye gets less of a chance to show himself due to his time as mind controlled goon, but his couple scenes with Widow are real good. I really think Marvel could do a film with him and Widow telling a story. Loki was a pawn in this film but an effective one. As I said before, Loki clearly relishes his evil. His scenes with Thor are effective and we enjoy seeing hip have epic fail moments. He did his job of uniting the Avengers with a common enemy well.
What didn’t work? Well I thought the fight with Iron Man and Thor was unnecessary. The aliens well never really struck me as a major threat. I mean they were basically just weird infantry with no real vehicles and some big armored space whales. However if there’s a reason to assemble the Avengers, an alien invasion makes sense. There’s nothing overall dramatic or really earth shattering with the story. However I can’t fault the film that much for this. It’s really the first of its kind and for that a simple but effective story can work. Age of Ultron hopefully pushes things a bit but that shall be seen in the future.
I mean at the end of the day The Avengers is the Avengers. An epic team up of a lot of characters that was really fun and set the MCU on its blitzkrieg to things like Iron Man 3, Captain America: The Winter Solider, and the ambitious Guardians of the Galaxy.
What? Makes as much sense as some of the Marvel Post credits!