Marvel’s Avengers (Avengers Assemble in the UK) is the conclusion of Marvel’s phase one of comic book movies. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is director of an international peace-keeping agency called S.H.I.E.L.D. The agency has kept tabs on all the powered people cropping up in the world. The world is filling up with individuals who can’t be matched (or controlled) in the form of Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Captain America (Chris Evans). We last see the Tesseract in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) when Red Skull tries to use it to achieve world domination in creating a New World Order. At the end of the First Avenger, The SSR or S.H.I.E.L.D. as they later became known, is in possession of the device. In the modern-day, the god Loki (brother of Thor) travels from Asgard to Midgard (Earth) to steal it. When global security is threatened by this God, Nick Fury and the Avengers will need all their wits, will and abilities to save the world from certain doom.
This movie is four years old now and by now, you should know the basic premise. Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has arrived to Midgard with one goal, to make humanity bow to him and do as he will, with a Chitauri army at his back. Looking back now, we know that Loki and the Chitauri were just pawns of the Mad Titan Thanos (check Guardians Of The Galaxy). He used them to do his bidding. Originally, the Avengers initiative was shutdown since the council would rather nuke New York than try to save it. But Fury thinks the Council has made a “stupid-ass decision and has elected to ignore it.” He puts the Avengers initiative back on the table and does his best with the help of Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson) to bring them all in. As you can predict, this doesn’t go according to plan.
One of the great things about taking Joss Whedon on for direction of this movie is his use of character interaction and character development. He is very good at showing team dynamics and morale through the good, the bad and the ugly of this collective unit. They all have very different ideologies and abilities, especially Cap who is adjusting to civilian life, waking up in 2012 after a seventy-odd year sleep. They clash and that’s to be expected. The points of view vary from Cap’s honourable and no-nonsense practicality to Stark’s blatant arrogance and narcissism to Nat’s pragmatic yet cold outlook on things. It’s great to see them at each others throats, ideologically speaking. They’re always bickering and Thor thinks that the puny mortal humans are comical to watch with their petty arguments, especially Cap and Stark…foreshadowing much. Once they put aside their different views, they can act as a team as we see when they take to the streets of New York to stop Loki.
The low point of this movie is Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). This came with the task of tackling a movie of this magnitude. With so many characters, one had to suffer, even after making his MCU debut in Kenneth Branagh’s Thor (2011). The film’s plot isn’t necessary a flaw but it was pretty basic and predictable. A villain has come to conquer Earth and it’s a story we’ve all seen before. The simplicity has to be commended and I respect where they’ve gone with the first movie. I’m glad they didn’t focus to hard on trying to create a complex story. They focused more on character development and delivering a kick ass comic book movie. Much time was needed to show how the team get on…or not. The Avengers have trouble trusting each other, but more importantly Fury and SHIELD as they always have a hidden agenda.
The Avengers isn’t just the first of many stories about Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, it’s also a sequel to Iron Man, Captain America: The First Avenger, Thor and The Incredible Hulk. It’s the conclusion of phase one and this chapter of the MCU. The Avengers is a solid flick and I spent much of the time with an ear-to-ear smile as it made me reminice about my childhood watching the animated series, The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. This is the movie we deserve and Marvel are only just getting started. From seeing the rapport between Nat & Clint to the banter between Thor and our favourite green rage monster. As much as I hate Iron Man as a character, Downey Jr was born for the role and plays Stark to perfection, especially when Downey Jr is onscreen with Hiddleston’s Loki. Tom Hiddleston (The Night Manager) is chilling as our favourite Norse god of Mischief. This is a movie for comic book nerds and film casuals alike. It’s for everyone, regardless if they are: film buffs, families or even hardcore comic fans. It appeals to all different types of audiences in all walks of life.
Even now, in 2016 as I write this review, the MCU is still male dominated in terms of actual superheroes, with the exception of Gamora and Nebula from Guardians Of The Galaxy and Black Widow in the Avengers franchise. If we were to talk about the TV stuff as well, the list would increase but female heroes are lacking in the movies. Marvel’s Avengers is a male-riddled cast with the exception of Scarlet Johansson’s Black Widow. She’s got presence as the character here, unlike in Iron Man 2 where she came across quite weak in the acting department. Like Hawkeye, she may not be superpowered per se, but she packs a wallop. I would not want to cross her. She’s a trained assassin, dangerous and deadly. Black Widow is socially inept (mostly), distant and not the most open person, except to maybe Clint. She doesn’t trust people and I guess that comes with being an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. She plays this character with seriousness that shows us that she’s not be trifled with, but also with a seductively captivating aura that could only be pulled off by Scar-Jo herself in the buttock-hugging spandex. Deadpool would be so proud.
S.H.I.E.L.D. plays a supporting role with Nick Fury getting plenty of screen time without the need to spout “motherfucker”, no thanks to Disney. This is our first proper look at Fury in a main role rather than his previous cameos. It’s great to look at the choices he has to make as director, mostly immoral and unethical ones for the common good. Agent Mariah Hill and Agent Phil Coulson are Fury’s left and right hands. We only get a glimpse of Hill in this movie but we see again in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Clarke Gregg (Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.) is awesome as Coulson. He’s the guy who’d make a pun whilst punching you in the face. He’s a welcome presence, having roles in Iron Man & Iron Man II and Thor. Whedon makes a wise move, as Phil’s long-running fanboying of Cap is a great way to spur the Avengers into doing what needs to be done.
Motion capture Hulk is quality. After two failed attempts at the character, we finally have a Hulk and Bruce Banner who are interesting to watch. He’s been hard to get right and Whedon has done it. Banner is appealing to audiences and Hulk is even more so. Ruffalo (Spotlight) is the best rendition of the character I have ever seen. Bruce knows what the Hulk can do, and he doesn’t want to be “the other guy”, having become a recluse in India. Ruffalo is very down to earth and bounces off the rest of the Avengers really well, adding a good bit of banter to the character, especially when he has a bout with Loki…puny God.
From an action perspective, it has some excellent sequences early on, like Loki’s assault on the S.H.I.E.L.D compound when he steals the Tesseract. Secondly, I enjoyed the Black Widow V Hawkeye fight as well as the big explosions and all, during the alien attack on New York. The movie has to deal with so many different characters and it can get messy at times. Whedon did an excellent job of trying to include all the main character, sorry about Hawkeye but it happens. They all bounce off each other, even Hawkeye towards the end of the movie in the last battle. Clint and Nat bounce off each other like a game of ping-pong. Watching Renner (The Hurt Locker) and Scar-Jo (Lucy) as Hawkeye and Widow was poetry in motion. I really enjoyed the scene when they talk about Operation Budapest, but that’s another story.
With the coming of the Tesseract, the Chitauri and revelation in the post-credits sequence, the introduction of the famous Infinity Saga was a sure thing. We had Avengers: Age Of Ultron which introduced the mind stone and Guardians Of The Galaxy which brought the power stone, the reality to stone in Thor: Dark World. Thanos is coming in 2018 and 2019 with Avengers IV and Avengers V. We still have two stones left to see which will probably appear in Doctor Strange and Guardians Of The Galaxy: Vol 2.
This is a great movie with excellent performances from all the cast. Marvel have done Earth’s Mightiest Heroes justice in not just one Avengers movie, but three (I count Civil War, despite being a Cap story) and I know the Infinity War movies will be just as good.