To celebrate our ‘Premiere Super-Teams’ theme, I’ll also be posting a couple of film reviews alongside the usual breakdowns. These reviews, the first of Avengers and the second of Justice League, were originally posted on my other blog, Emrys Moungabio’s Geek Space. If you’re in to super-heroes, science-fiction and the occasional video-game, why not hop on over and have a look. I’m currently in the process of revamping the site in a similar manner to how I revamped this one some months back.
RELEASED: 4th May 2012
DIRECTED BY: Joss Whedon
WRITTEN BY: Zak Penn & Joss Whedon
PRODUCED BY: Kevin Feige
MUSIC BY: Alan Silvestri
STARRING: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Cobie Smulders, Clark Gregg & Samuel L. Jackson
While we all look back on Avengers Assemble (or just The Avengers if you’re outside of Britain) fondly, the truth is, the film does have some flaws. It’s got a bit of awkward pacing at times, especially during the central act, and sometimes certain characters, dialogue or props seem to be there just to force the plot along, rather than naturally fitting in to the story.
However, much of that can be forgiven due to the extraordinary feat the film pulled off in, well, assembling the Avengers.
The film see’s Loki, God of Mischief, arrive on Earth after his defeat in Thor, working with an unseen benefactor to retrieve the Tesseract (from Captain America: The First Avenger). In exchange for locating this ‘cosmic cube’, Loki will be gifted an army of alien warriors, known as the Chitauri, who he can use to conquer the Earth. With a threat of unprecedented scale threatening humanity, Nick Fury restarts the ‘Avengers Initiative’, bringing together Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk and Black Widow to save Widow’s fellow S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, Hawkeye, from Loki’s control and stop his nefarious plans, a goal shared by the God of Thunder, Thor.
The real reason this film works (and this can be said of many of the Marvel movies) is that although the plot may feature huge stakes, explosive set pieces and mind-bending special effects, at the end of the day, character is the most important facet of the movie. Although they, understandably, don’t get as much focus as they would in their own solo film, each Avenger shows why they’re necessary to the eventual team-up, and has some measure of progression from their previous film.
Thor continues to become a more responsible figure (mostly) and is forced to struggle with the reality that the villain endangering mankind is one of those closest to him. Bruce Banner / the Hulk faces a new situation – one that requires him to trust others and work within the confines he would usually try to avoid. Captain America enters a new world where his super-powers are no longer all that special, and his beliefs have been largely left in the past. Black Widow (and to a lesser extent, Hawkeye) have paths opened up for them that present a future where one day they might be heroes rather than just killers. And Iron Man, like Thor, is finally forced to become more responsible and face the fact that not everything is about him. All of these personal journeys not only fit in the film, but they all work and feel like a natural progression of things. As if Avengers Assemble was a sequel to The First Avenger, Thor and Iron Man 2, rather than just a collaborative film featuring all of these characters.
Furthermore, the way these characters interact, meshing into one unified tone, yet retaining the personalities and feels of their own movies is excellent. It truly is a major success on the parts of the writers, producers and the director that they could take these vastly different properties; a monster movie, a campy war film, a techno-thriller and a cosmic fantasy story and make them feel as if they’re all in the same, believable world.
Of course, this is in part helped by the excellent performances from the cast members, none moreso than Tom Hiddleston’s portrayal of Loki. In his one film, he bounces between humour, creepiness and being downright evil, delivering both brutal attacks and spine-tingling monologues that really highlight why his is the best villain of the first fifteen films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Despite it’s flaws, the fact that Avengers Assemble worked at all is impressive, and the fact that it worked well and was good enough to change the landscape of cinema in a way that no one else has yet to emulate, speaks volumes about the skill and care that went into crafting this film.
All-in-all, I give it: