In anticipation for the release of ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ we will be reviewing all of the Phase One films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
In Marvel’s The Avengers, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) invades Earth and poses a global threat. In response to the threat, Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) reactivates the Avengers Initiative and brings together a team of superheroes including Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) in order to stop Loki from carrying out an alien invasion.
Marvel’s The Avengers is truly a landmark film within the superhero genre. It is a culmination of five films’ worth of build-up. Considering director Joss Whedon’s experience was mostly in the television world and only one other feature film, he made for an odd choice to helm Marvel’s most important project to date. However, the risky choice ended up paying off for Marvel. Whedon uses his experience working with groups of characters with distinct personalities, in giving audiences an in-depth look at the Avengers. The banter between the team is extremely entertaining. In fact, the strongest moments of the film are when we see the team interacting with one another. This is a result of the terrific writing done by Whedon. As a result, the drama is exciting, so viewers are always entertained and are not just waiting for the next action sequence. There are also many comedic moments that fit in very well and add to the extremely fun viewing experience the film offers.
This film also delivers some of the best action sequences we have seen in a Marvel Studios film. The big climactic battle ramps up the fun factor of the film. Whedon films it in a way that is engaging, where it is not simply big explosions and loud noises. There is emotional weight to it, making it even more entertaining. Whedon pulls off an incredible single-take tracking shot that showcases each Avenger in action. The action sequences definitely add to the spectacle element of the summer blockbuster. Whedon always maintains the humanity of these characters as well. During the action, we see the heroes take hits and feel pain. The vulnerability increases the intensity of these action sequences as well. The musical score by Alan Silvestri is great, giving our heroic team a memorable theme.
The Avengers deals with a lot of characters here. Whedon does a terrific job with handling the large number of characters, by giving each of them their own personal obstacle to overcome. Whedon is able to work with a great group of actors portraying these characters. Robert Downey Jr. is back doing his thing as Tony Stark. Having to interact with all of these other heroes, he is even more witty here. Chris Evans conveys the essential characteristics of Captain America with ease. The opposing personalities of Stark and Rogers is really brought to light here. Chris Hemsworth continues his great portrayal of Thor. The actor has really made the role his own, and continues to be entertaining.
Taking over the role of Dr. Bruce Banner aka The Hulk from Edward Norton is Mark Ruffalo. Ruffalo was cast in the role after negotiations between Marvel and Norton broke down. While it’s a shame Norton did not reprise the role, Ruffalo is excellent. He perfectly conveys the two sides of the character, and his struggle balancing them. This might also be the best version of Hulk we have seen on screen. The motion capture work and CGI deliver a Hulk that closely resembles the actor playing Banner. The Hulk also ends up having some of the best moments in the film and is a true stand-out. After being absent for most of Phase One following The Incredible Hulk, the character makes a strong return to the big screen.
Scarlett Johansson reprises her role as Black Widow. This really feels like a proper introduction to the character as opposed to her introduction in Iron Man 2. She has so many entertaining moments, and interacts with the rest of the team really well. Out of all the characters, Hawkeye ends up getting the short end of the stick. That being said, Jeremy Renner still does a terrific job in the role. Let’s hope he gets more to do in future films. Samuel L. Jackson delivers another entertaining performance as Nick Fury. Clark Gregg and How I Met Your Mother star Cobie Smulders both deliver noteworthy performances as S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. Meanwhile, MCU supporting cast members Gwyneth Paltrow and Stellan Skarsgard appear in the film as well.
Finally, we have Tom Hiddleston as our villain Loki in the film. While the actor did a good job with the role in Thor, he really makes an impact here. Hiddleston really showcases the evolution of the character since Thor. Here, he is a menacing villain who is both terrifying and charming. Ultimately, Hiddleston solidifies Loki as being the best villain in the MCU so far with his performance in this film. You can see that the character is still motivated by jealousy and rage, as he desperately seeks to rule. The various exchanges he has with all of the characters is thoroughly entertaining. Overall, Hiddleston definitely knocked it out of the park with his performance here.
Once again, the minor flaw with this film is the way Hawkeye is handled. He feels severely underused compared to the other characters.
In the end, Marvel’s The Avengers raises the bar for not only Marvel films but comic book films in general. It delivers an incredibly fun viewing experience with numerous comedic moments. The film features some incredible action sequences and engaging drama that makes this an excellent summer blockbuster. Seeing these superheroes come together for the first time is a truly incredible experience unlike any other. Be sure to stay through the credits for an exciting mid-credits scene that teases a future threat for our heroes and a post-credits scene that leaves you with one great comedic moment. The Avengers is a huge achievement for the comic book film genre and is definitely worth the build-up over four years.