Summers’ hit movies often suffer from predictability, forced humor and an over-reliance on special effects. Most movies in the recent run of comic book adaptations for the big screen fall into this category.
Director Joss Whedon fortunately guides mega-blockbuster “The Avengers” away from most of these ills. The movie is an adrenaline-fueled ride of bulging muscles and witty banter that doesn’t slow down for a second.
“The Avengers” is through-and-through an action movie. The movie opens immediately with a blistering scene where Loki (Tom Hiddleston) ends up stealing an important object from S.H.I.E.L.D., a secret military agency led by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson).
In response to Loki's attack, Fury starts up the “Avengers Initiative.” The following 40 minutes or so chronicles the introduction of the various superheroes that make up the Avengers team, while simultaneously revealing some of their background.
This is where the first major flaw of “The Avengers” presents itself. Viewers that are unaware of the Marvel universe may be lost among the brief and rapid character introductions. With six different superheroes, screen time is limited and cannot be dedicated to one character’s story. So, the movie relies on the viewer to have seen the other Marvel movies to grasp each hero’s background.
The fact that six characters have to be introduced, albeit how brief those introductions are, results in a drawn out movie. The final Avenger, Thor (Chris Hemsworth), is not seen until 45 minutes after the opening credits.
These two flaws aren’t a result of poor directing by Whedon, but rather just the result of a comic book with many characters being adapted and squeezed into a two-hour movie. Whedon actually manages to walk the tightrope successfully between character development and movie length by settling right in the middle. Each character is given a necessary but brief introduction so that the movie doesn’t drag on too much.
Apart from these problematic aspects, “The Avengers” is a well-written and produced action movie. The cast is stellar and the acting is spot on. Robert Downey Jr. reprises his role as Iron Man, and he is as eccentric and cruelly funny as ever.
One of the most intriguing aspects in the movie is Mark Ruffalo’s portrayal of the Hulk. “The Avengers” was Ruffalo’s first film acting as this hero, who has been played in other movie adaptations by Edward Norton and Eric Bana. Ruffalo’s version of the Hulk, a man struggling with his monster alter ego, has been praised as in-tune with the comic version.
The movie really shines when the characters are on screen together either battling it out or swapping banter. The characters do not out shine one another and develop a good chemistry throughout the film.
Overall, “The Avengers” is successful in creating an entertaining and high-octane action film that will delight comic book aficionados and casual fans alike.