The Avengers is everything a summer movie should be — big and loud and fast and fun. As a comic-book nerd, I was cautiously excited for the movie. Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America were lots of fun. Joss Whedon knows comics and action. That said, team movies are tough to pull off. It’s hard to give multiple characters time to shine while moving a central narrative forward. My fear was that an awesome idea on paper would stumble in execution. I shouldn’t have been worried at all. The Avengers was the most fun I’ve had in a movie theater in a long, long time. Here are some random thoughts (spoilers ahead!) on The Avengers movie.
– Every character had a chance to shine. Tony Stark had the best lines. Captain America had an awesomely dramatic run through Manhattan. Hulk and Thor had amazing power moves. Black Widow and Hawkeye did super-cool spy things. More importantly, each character had a purpose. Stark and Banner had science and tech covered. Thor was the supernatural authority. Black Widow was used for interrogations. Hawkeye called out strategies as the eye in the sky. Naturally, the team was led by Cap. It was a stark contrast to the X-Men movies, which had several characters that made you wonder, “Why are you here exactly?”
– The issue I had with screen-time distribution was that there was too much Black Widow and not enough Captain America. Yeah, I know it sounds insane to complain about excess Scarlett Johansson scenes, but as a comic-book nerd it just didn’t make sense. I know that Scar is hot and adds sexiness to the movie (and my dream in life is for her to own me), but in the grand scheme of the Marvel Universe, Black Widow isn’t all the important. Captain America, on the other hand, is like the father of all superheroes. I would have liked a few more scenes that established his natural leadership skills and the sense of paternal authority he conveys.
– On the plus side, Cap’s lack of scenes prevented a ridiculous man-out-of-time montage. My friend Paul was afraid that there was going to be a silly sequence of Cap acclimating to modern times. The first thing that popped into my head was Austin Powers trying to play a CD with a record player. Personally, I’d love to see a deleted scene of Steve Rogers doing the same thing. Ha!
– The Hulk was a big unknown going into the movie. Mark Ruffalo had the unenviable task of following Eric Bana and Ed Norton. For the most part, he was very good as Dr. Bruce Banner. He was somewhat believable as a science guy that could carry a high-level conversation with Tony Stark. He was definitely believable as someone struggling with the mother of all anger-management issues. Banner was very good…but the Hulk was outstanding! The CG was fantastic. The Hulk looked powerful and menacing. His fight scenes were extraordinary. He even had two bits of show-stealing comedy. I loved his sucker punch to Thor in Grand Central Station. Watching him beat the crap out of Loki as if the Norse god were a rag doll was hilarious and viscerally thrilling at the same time. It left you thinking, “Yes! That’s how Hulk rolls!!!”
– Speaking of Loki, Tom Hiddleston was a charming bad guy. His version of Loki was cool. You’d want to hang out with him…if you weren’t afraid of his maniacal plots, never ending lies, clever schemes, and immense power. Paul and I agreed that he felt like more of a threat in The Avengers than he did in Thor. With all the cool characters and big names in the movie, Hiddleston is likely to get overlooked. Pay attention to his performance. He was a great baddie in the movie and great heroes need great baddies in order to shine.
– As with most modern, mainstream movies, there was a lot of product placement in The Avengers. Most of it wasn’t bad, but there was one scene in Manhattan where it felt like the camera was focused on an Acura for like ten seconds. Giant-sized battle with aliens in the greatest city in the world?!? Let’s take some time to stare at this Acura as we transition between scenes. *groan*
– Clark Gregg was fantastic in his role as S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Phil Coulson. This made-for-the-movies character appeared in all the recent Marvel superhero films and served as the galvanizing agent for the team. His deadpan humor was spot-on and his banter with Pepper Potts — with Tony Stark wondering why they’re so familiar with each other — was fantastic.
– The mid-credit teaser totally made me mark out. Frickin’ Thanos?!? I love it!!! That’s definitely one way to go even bigger. The one problem with Thanos is that you need some space-oriented heroes in the mix. Silver Surfer’s rights were tied up with Fox, which is why he wasn’t in the Planet Hulk animated movie. I’m not sure if the Fox deal has expired. I love me some Adam Warlock, but he’s probably too weird for a mainstream movie…and he also has feathered hair. Captain Marvel would make sense and Whedon would be free to kill him off. How about Michael Clarke Duncan as Thanos? He certainly has the voice for it.
– As the credits for The Avengers rolled, I was left totally satisfied. Was it the best superhero movie ever? Probably not, but it’s up there and leaves room for future Avengers adventures. The best thing I can about it is that I’m totally willing to pony up $10 to see it again. Like I said in the intro, The Avengers is big and loud and fast and fun.