By Mandy Griffiths
I’m calling it. “The Avengers” is the “Citizen Kane” of super hero movies. If by that statement you assume I enjoyed it, you would be correct. If you also assume by that statement that the next few paragraphs are going to consist of me fangirling over writer/director Joss Whedon, you would also be correct. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Whedon will always be the creator of “Buffy” to me, and for that he has a fan for life, but while he has had success writing films before (“Toy Story”), and built a fanatical fan base with “Serenity”, I have a feeling this film will mark a turning point for him as a director. He has created a $200 million film that didn’t waste its budget, its star power or its heritage. And it’s funny. Whew. Marvel can just go ahead and erect his stature in their head office right now.
“The Avengers” of course unites the Marvel heroes Iron Man (Robert Downey Junior), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). Nick Fury (Samual L Jackson) finally stops making cameos and gets more than two lines of dialogue, and serves of the overseer of this motley crew. America has taken on the responsibility of saving the world for many years, and it is no different here. Will they all get along? Do they try to one up each other and wackiness ensues? Is The Hulk naked when he transforms back into a Bruce Banner? The fun of the film lies in how these characters play off each other, and how they come together, so I won’t spoil it for you. Oh all right, yes he is naked.
Even characters that in their introductory films I thought were bland (Captain America), unnecessary (Black Widow), cartoonishly green (you know who I’m talking about), came alive in this one. No mean feat when there are six characters who could potentially lead the entire film and need to share screen time. Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) is probably the one character that misses out on the some of the build up, but he’s a joy to watch by the final showdown, no matter how ineffective a bow and arrow would really be if that was your signature weapon. I mean really, even Thor’s hammer is more useful. A hammer! This is no fault of Whedon’s of course, just to be clear.
Breakout star of the film? How about none of the above, with the award going to returning villain and “adopted” brother of Thor, Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Such an intriguing baddie hasn’t been seen since Hugo Weaving “Mr Anderson”d his way around “The Matrix”. His villain is intelligent, menacing, and understands how to bring his foes down without monologuing. Much.
But back to Whedon. He is present everywhere in the film, from the dialogue, to the set up shots, to the extra million or so dollars that they would have spent on special effects just to include a two second funny aside. But more than that he loves the characters, knows their history and weaknesses, and uses this knowledge to drive the plot forward and create adversity. The film speeds along in an organic and exciting way so there is never a dull moment, despite the long running time. And the cheeseball factor stays surprisingly low, somewhere above “Fight Club” but way below “Transformers”.
If you can have a perfect super hero movie this is it. It’s not going to make you view the world differently, but it is an amazing ride, with great effects, action sequences, performances and dialogue. I don’t even know what they could have done differently.
There is, as always, a special treat at the end so be sure to stick around after the credits have rolled. Bring on ”Avengers 2”.