When I say that The Avengers had a lot of pressure on it to exceed expectations, I do not say this in jest. It is not merely a cliché or an exercise in trying to make this review sound more intelligent than it actually is; it is one hundred percent the case that The Avengers had a tremendous amount of expectancies laid upon it.
Marvel Studios sought to, and up to this point in our analysis of the MCU succeeded, create a movie-verse that felt authentic, dynamic, yet uncluttered with unnecessary nonsense.
The Avengers brought together the heroes from four different movie franchises and is the culmination the singular vision of the MCU. It managed to, for lack of a better term, blow the collective minds of moviegoers everywhere! There hasn’t been a bigger high risk/high reward undertaking in Hollywood since Peter Jackson put his mind to bringing The Lord of the Rings to life, and The Avengers actually pays off.
When I heard that the legendary creative director Joss Whedon was going to be in charge of this project my already excited hopes were reinforced. As I have said, it just works.
The Avengers feels like the grand third act of the previous five films that came before. The story is relatively simple, which is good because there are so many characters with different backgrounds that exploring all of them in one place would be tedious and bloated. Whedon gives every character an ample amount of screen time that we grow attached to each one of them and, in turn, the big New York scene has actual weight and gravitas to it.
For the sake of keeping this particular article as succinct as possible, I would encourage the reader to see our reviews of the previous films in order to get an understanding of the characters found in The Avengers. James’ review of Iron Man and Iron Man 2, Cesar’s review of The Incredible Hulk and Thor, and my review of Captain America: The First Avenger all give a general introduction to the individuals in play in The Avengers.
The obvious bonus here, of course, is Whedon’s direction and writing. As the director and creator of franchises like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly, Whedon knows perfectly how to make a dynamic group of characters feel relatable.
Who would have thought that seeing Bruce Banner and Tony Stark have a few, “bro moments,” would be great fun? The comic relief of hearing Captain America say, “I get that reference,” or Thor saying, of his brother Loki, that, “he’s adopted,” are perfectly crafted and placed into the film.
A standout performance in The Avengers is Mark Ruffalo’s portrayal of Bruce Banner in the place of previously casted actor, Edward Norton. Although I was a fan of the idea of seeing Norton throughout these films, Ruffalo does a tremendous job as the scientist-turned-hulk and we all benefit from his acting.
And, of course, we must mention Tom Hiddleston as Loki. When it comes to MCU bad guys, Loki is by far the most interesting, even when considering the movies that come after The Avengers. He is all at once charming and likable, yet he preaches about human beings only finding true freedom when they are subordinate to a superior authority. For me a good villain is able to convince the audience that his worldview is the correct one to adopt, no matter how terrible it may be when analyzed.
The Avengers is a film that remains one of my favorites of the super hero genre. Of course no movie is without sin, and I do pick some nits when it is called for, but those tiny negatives do nothing to keep me from absolutely loving this movie. Plus when we consider how badly this could have gone wrong (I’m looking at you as an example Batman v Superman), one grows a much greater appreciation for the existence of this amazing film.