I have never read many comics- at least, not much beyond the incomparable Neil Gaiman, but I had at least heard of Marvel comics. I had heard of The Hulk, Captain America, and Iron Man. Actually, I saw Iron Man 1 and 2, and was surprised to find I enjoyed them quite alot. Still, I wasn’t sold on the premise of The Avengers. Chuck all of the super heroes into one movie? Sounded to me like a 2 hour punch up, rather than a movie.
The plot of course, is standard action film, big, bad villain fare. Loki steals the Tesseract in order to subjugate earth and get back at his brother, Thor. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) assembles The Avengers with the aid of Black Widow, some willingly, and some grudgingly, to protect earth from a major threat.
Luckily, The Avengers was scripted and directed by Joss Whedon (Buffy, Firefly), who is known for his character, and geek loving takes on science fiction. There are disagreements about the ethics of The Avengers as a fighting force, there are debates about the use of super powers, there are suicidal thoughts on the part of The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo in a stand out performance) who dreads the change each time, for the loss of his precious humanity. There is Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) being his usual cynical, caustic self, there is Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) who are both pretty attractive eye candy, doing their fallen Gods thing, and Captain America (Chris Evans) doing his best to come to grips with the fact the world isn’t the way it used to be, and valour is no longer everything.
There were pop corn fight scenes aplenty for the action film buffs, but there were also quieter character moments, and serious attempts to deal with the psychological element of being a super hero peppered throughout. Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) was treated with the same respect as the super heroes with powers, and got to hold her own based on her own personal attributes. There was a very cool scene with a caged Loki approximately halfway through the movie that I loved (also nice shot from behind, Joss. I say this as a relatively straight female) , and I liked that her role wasn’t all about the usual faux girl power feminism so rife in Hollywood films.
It is not the best movie I have ever seen, and it is nowhere near as thought provoking as say, the recent Hunger Games film, but the script was full of humour and pathos, the visuals were good, and the fight scenes were exactly what you’d expect from a film of this nature. If you want a geektastic, source material respectful, and character driven action movie, The Avengers is for you.
The Avengers: 8/10 inky stars