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Movie Review – Marvel’s The Avengers

Iʼll be honest, I kinda’ doubted Joss Whedon. Yeah, heʼs a brilliant director and writer and has a great knack for wrangling giant casts full of intricate plots, tumultuous relationships, intense fighting in space and against vampires, pretty much every Nerd’s favorite genre director and the person Marvel trusted with the culmination of the last five years of Marvel movies. I have a massive amount of respect for the guy and Iʼm not ashamed to say Iʼm a fan, but he wasnʼt my problem. The movie itself was what I was worried about. Itʼs essentially a sequel to not just Captain America: The First Avenger, but also Thor, Iron Man 2, and The Incredible Hulk. And on top of that it features two other members of the team with such a rich history in the comic books that they could carry movies by themselves in Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Clint Ba… I mean Jeremy Renner). And let’s not forget Samuel L. Jackson. The story has to be BIG. Like REALLY BIG! If it wasnʼt big enough and turned into a bunch of dudes and a chick flexing and fighting each other whilst wearing weird costumes with no substance besides some really awesome cgi, we could very well kiss superhero and mainly comic book movies goodbye. Luckily for us, Mr. Whedon has raised the bar for what a comic book movie can be.

First off the story ties in wonderfully with the four aforementioned prequels, showcasing a threat that promises to cause havoc for not only our newly formed mightiest heroes but the rest of the Marvel pantheon. With movies like Guardians of the Galaxy and Dr. Strange already in pre-production, it’s nice to know theyʼre taking care to weave a giant tapestry in hopes that one day we can see all these awesome characters on the same screen. Being that this movie spins out of Thor, our main protagonist is Loki (Tom Hiddleston) who does an excellent job of pulling at your heart strings in not only his hatred for his brother, but for his heinous acts of violence that make your blood boil. Heʼs a great villain and perfectly cast. Still feeling resentment for being kicked out of Asgard, he finds a way into Midgard (Asgardian for Earth) and captures in his service a future member of our team and a cadre of scientists to help him in his devious plans. Thatʼs as much story as you need to know. Taking cues from not only the original Marvel universe but also the Ultimate universe, Zak Penn and Joss Whedon craft a tale that sees our heroes at odds, but ultimately realizing that they are the only thing that can defend the otherwise defenseless earth. Putting aside their egos, they form up and share some of the best and kinetic action sequences Iʼve seen in a long time.

While the story is mainly told with Captain America (Chris Evans) as the protagonist, heʼs sharing the screen with the arrogant hammer-wielding demi-god Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and a still mostly intoxicated and very charismatic Tony Stark played perfectly by Robert Downey Jr., making it a little hard to tell whoʼs in the lead. At times, Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) steals the screen by being not only comic relief but the heart and driving force of the team. I felt that everyone got a decent amount of screen time, except for Mark Ruffalo who takes over as Bruce Banner. He delivers a great performance, but I wouldʼve liked to see a little more from Ruffalo; Iʼm really excited for him to reprise the role in a sequel. Also Colbie Smulders as Maria Hill was a really great choice, but again she didnʼt have as much screen time as she deserved. On the other hand, the king badass, Samuel L. Jackson, playing the king badass of the Marvel universe, Nick Fury, does a bang up job and just begs to have a feature all his own.

More so than the amazing cast, the people behind the scenes really brought a lot to the table. The settings play as much a role as the actors and had to be of the same caliber and Production Designer James Chinlund (Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain) brought not only the Helicarrier to life, but the immense and grand Stark Tower. Behind the camera, Seamus McGarvey (High Fidelity, World Trade Center, The Soloist) made it feel not only like you are watching the comic come to life with some amazing moving shots, but also captured the scope and magnificence of our heroes. The costumes were also amazing, again borrowing heavily from the Ultimate universe with just a few nods to their original 616 costumes, thanks in no small part to Alexandra Byrne who has a little bit of experience with superheroes having worked on Thor and receiving an Oscar for her work on Elizabeth: the Golden Age. Another great aspect of this movie was the score, which captivated but didnʼt take away from the story. Having worked on Captain America: The First Avenger, Alan Silvestri (Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Forest Gump) composes some of the coolest fight sequences ever put to film.

Overall the movie just works. From the way Tony and Pepper’s relationship has blossomed, to Captain America dealing with living out of his time, to the history thatʼs hinted at between Hawkeye and Black Widow, the scope and size of this movie is a lot to take in at once. But it’s a non-stop thrill ride from the first explosive scene to the final epic battle to save Manhattan that delivers not only a well-plotted and enthralling story but fulfills every Nerd’s wish of what a comic book movie should be. The bar has been raised, and I have to say, itʼs a great time to be a comic Nerd. Iʼm giving The Avengers 5 out of 5 Nerdskulls, and it deserves every single one.

For a refresher, here’s the trailer: