I decided that if there was one film that I could never review, it was going to be The Avengers. Think of it like a conflict of interest. There's something about Marvel's superheroes that just ignites the fanboy inside of me. Even the films that I know were terrible; such as Ghost Rider and Elektra, I still found something worthwhile in them. So the idea that there was going to be a film that combined four of the greatest superheroes in one film, pretty much had me sold. So when Iron Man was released in 2008, it got the ball rolling for further films starring the Hulk, Thor and Captain America and then what eventually would be the first film to incorporate more than one superhero. Seeing an adaptation of these beloved characters together on the big screen was going to be a dream come true. Hence the problem of reviewing a film that I was kind of biased towards.
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So why am I writing a review then? It's simply because The Avengers exceeded all my wildest expectations, not just as an ultimate superhero mash-up, but because of its example as extraordinary filmmaking. That's all thanks to the ensemble cast list and the magic touch of Joss Whedon (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Firefly).
Thanks to the groundwork done in the previous films (Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk, Thor & Captain America), we already have a sense of what the film is about. Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson), director of SHIELD has the idea of organizing a group of remarkable beings, that if and when Earth was ever in danger, then they could come together and fight the battles that humans couldn't. This battle comes in the form of Thor's step-brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) who brings with him, an alien army. It's up to Iron Man (Robert Downey Jnr), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johanssen) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Remer) to save the world.
Based on the comic by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Marvel Studios have had this in production since 2005, deciding to release each character's individual film before finally bringing them together for the ultimate mash up. It was a risk worth taking. Joss Whedon has managed to modernize the superhero genre, without limiting its scope. Much like in Thor, we have the crossover between Earth and its lesser known extra-terrestrial neighbours, but it's surprising how easily Joss Whedon has been able to join the two together. Right from the beginning we are introduced to the alien race and their plans of impending invasion, before travelling back to earth, just in time for all the fun. We see Earth as being grounded and believable, yet when these fantastical elements come to play, it still seems quite real, and more importantly is a lot of fun. Arguably they're entirely different, but it's something that you could never envision happening in Christopher Nolan's adaptation of Batman.
We are treated to some of the most fantastic action scenes that we had the pleasure of seeing in a superhero film, or arguably any genre. Despite having six heroes to focus on, each hero gets a great amount of screen time, enough to each have memorable action scenes. The fight scenes are brutal, and it's good to know that despite there being six of them, it's still not an easy task. We're reminded of this is a team effort when we're flying through New York, profiling each hero as they take down hordes of alien soldiers. It's a remarkable experience, and an example of the amazing cinematography and CGI that the film has to offer.
If there could be one that that overshadows the action scenes, it'd be the relationships between the heroes, thanks to Joss Whedon's ability to write amazing characters. Despite dealing with impending doom, the team fail get over obvious differences, which results in a few little tiffs between Captain America and Iron Man, Iron Man and Thor and Thor and Hulk. Embedded in these unlikely relationships is Joss Whedon's signature humour. Yes it's a bit of a cliché', but the film is surprisingly funny.
Thor and Captain America must first settle their differences
If there's going to be any criticizing of the film, it's going to be in certain spots of slight underdevelopment; Such as Bruce Banners sudden ability to control the Hulk for the final act.
Yes, it's may be a popcorn flick, and you can call it bias, but The Avengers is a remarkable achievement in terms of film-making, which has revolutionized the superhero genre. It's by no means a 'loud' film, while there's an abundance of action, it steers away from the likes of Transformers, offering some real substance during the larger battles instead of simply blowing things up for the sake of it. (Take some notes Michael Bay) It's going to be difficult to tell whether fellow superhero flick The Dark Knight Rises can surpass this. Either way; we're in for a treat.
An enjoyable action film whether you're a fan or not. I was luckily see the film at a special pre-screening, The Avengers opens in Australia on April 25th