The Avengers. 3D. PG 13. 2012. Marvel. Directed by Joss Whedon; from a story by Zak Penn and Joss Whedon; screenplay by Joss Whedon.
The Plot: When Loki steals the Tesseract and threatens to take over Earth, Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. has only one option. Assemble a group of super heroes to defeat Loki and recover the Tesseract. The problem is, most of those he wants to recruit for “the Avengers” don’t play well with others. “The Avengers” have to become a real team, which may be almost as difficult as beating Loki.
The Avengers, all who have been introduced in other movies, are (in alphabetical order): Black Widow (Natasha Romanoff); Captain America (Steve Rogers); Hawkeye (Clint Barton); The Incredible Hulk (Dr. Bruce Banner); Iron Man (Tony Stark); Thor. For those keeping score at home, this includes two super talented humans (Black Widow and Hawkeye) and three humans with enhanced superhuman powers (Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man) and one alien god (Thor).
The Good: When I took my eleven year old niece to see The Hunger Games, I promised my nine year old nephew that his movie treat would be The Avengers. He’s already watched most of the other films in the Marvel franchise – Captain America, Hulk, Iron Man and Thor have all had at least one film bearing their name; humans Black Widow, Hawkeye, and Nick Fury have made appearances in those films. The nephew thought I was being a good aunt, taking him to a movie he says should be rated “E for Everyone”. Little did he know that I wanted Robert Downey Jr.’s snark as Iron Man, Chris Hemsworth’s blue eyes (are those really Thor’s eyes or CGI?), and, most importantly, Joss Whedon.
Those of you who know that the origins of my blog name are from a line in Buffy the Vampire Slayer understand just how much I adore Whedon’s work. I won’t go into all of Whedons’ credentials; check out the articles in Entertainment Weekly, among others.
One of the toughest things about a film like The Avengers is a huge cast; and, not just a huge cast, but a cast made up of fan favorites so that no one person can be left out. To make matters that much more complicated, these characters are played by actors, who have their own egos and insecurities, just, in their own ways, as each one of the Avengers has egos and insecurities. Whedon’s previous work has always included large groups of actors; one of his particular talents, in my humble opinion, is how he can quickly establish characters while advancing the plot. Oh, yes, all of these characters were already introduced in comic books; and there are, as mentioned above, the other films that preceded The Avengers. Fanboys and fangirls don’t “need” that introduction. Then there are people like my nine year old nephew, who don’t have decades of familiarity with Marvel comics; or people like me, who missed a film or two (Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk) so didn’t quite know some of the people. Whedon did a stellar job of assembling the Avengers.
The Tesseract — I’ll be honest. I didn’t really care what the Tesseract was or what it did. It’s a bit of a MacGuffin, existing to provide a reason for the Avengers to form. I’m fine with that; what I wanted from this film was seeing how the characters were physically brought together, then how they put aside their differences to create a team, and, finally, how that team worked together. I also wanted a great villain, and Loki delivers! Loki is the brother of Thor, and suffers from “everyone loves my brother more than me so I’m going to become an evil dictator to feel better about myself” syndrome. If only someone loved Loki best!
Were there some areas where I wished there were more? Yes; I want to know more about Hawkeye, for example. As it is, though, the movie is almost two and a half hours long. And yes, if you don’t sit through the whole end credits you miss not one, but two bonus scenes. I wouldn’t have cut a minute!
YALSA’s The Hub has put together The Avengers Reading List, asking the always fun question of what would a fictional character read? Good Comics for Kids here at SLJ has a number of posts about the Avengers comics. Also at SLJ, Watch and Read: The Avengers Assemble.