The Avengers

When you walk out of the theater after watching The Avengers, you’ll probably be thinking one thing: They did it. They actually did it. Think back to five years ago. If someone told you that Marvel was going to do a crossover movie starring Iron Man, Captain America, The Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, and Hawkeye and that it would turn out not only good but excellent, you’d probably have laughed at their face. But here’s where competition comes in. For a few years, comic book super hero movies became nothing but cash cows. Companies made ‘em, didn’t care how good they were, and got tons of money from them. This created more than a few bad movies most people want to forget: Daredevil, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Hulk, Superman Returns, Fantastic Four, Green Lantern… Thankfully, that started to change when Christopher Nolan delivered the excellent Batman Begins (and its even better sequel) and Marvel assumed creative control over movies based on its characters, resulting in the really good Iron Man, which in 2008 opened the way for the movie we’re talking about today. The industry (mostly) learned its lesson: you’re going to get better results if your movie appeals both to the comic-oblivious audience and, most importantly, long-time fans of the comics and characters.

Following Iron Man came The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger, all featuring subtle nods or direct shout-outs to the intersection to come, which varied in quality from good to great. One can even argue that the quality of these films had to be a little compromised in order for The Avengers to work and, if that’s the case, it certainly paid off. Starring Playboy Tin Man, Stars and Stripes, Norwegian Blond Dude, Big Green and Ugly, with the added bonus of Russian Chick and Modern-World Legolas (who had minor appearances in Iron Man 2 and Thor, respectively), The Avengers is fun from start to finish. Packed with well-made action, great character development and well-humored jokes typical of comic books (trust me when I say “we have a Hulk” is one of the lamest jokes in the movie), you’ll want to buy another ticket as soon as you finish watching it.

The Avengers

This image has so much awesome it's not even funny.

The plot is simple and efficient. Thor’s rebellious brother, Loki, made friends with some mysterious bad dude from another planet/dimension and he wants to conquer Earth with the help of the bad dude’s alien army. Loki comes to Earth, steals the Cosmic Cube/Tesseract/whatever you want to call it from Nick Fury. Nick summons a group of extraordinary people to help him out, and after some (really fun) misunderstandings and some great clashes of shields, hammers, missiles and green monsters, the team is able to put their differences aside and team up to beat up evil aliens. Nothing really mind-blowing, but the key here are the characters, not Loki’s evil scheme.

One thing I feared before watching the film was that the team would feel like “Tony Stark and his loyal sidekicks”, which, despite how much I enjoy Iron Man, would be a serious let down in a movie all about teamwork. Fortunately, that’s not the case. Each Avenger gets his or her share dose of screen time and plays an important role in the team. The actors all seem like they were born to play those roles. You may be apprehensive about Mark Ruffalo, but rest assured he is the third and best incarnation Bruce Banner we’ve seen on the big screen so far and made me reconsider Dr. Banner’s position in my rank of favorite Avengers.

The movie isn’t without its flaws, however. Two things stand out: first, the director Joss Whedon, while doing a great job with the characters, made a few of the faster-paced scenes a bit confusing. The good thing is that those scenes usually aren’t crucial to understand the big picture. Second, the whole story is a little rushed, but, considering how much had to be told in just two hours and twenty minutes, isn’t actually disappointing. The main thing that bugged me, and this sentence may be a spoiler, was how The Hulk is completely savage in one scene and under the control of Bruce Banner (maybe not complete control, but at least he knows who to punch or not) the next time he shows up, without any real explaining in between. Makes me wonder if there’s going to be a side story in the middle.

However, those are things you’ll barely notice under the massive amount of awesome being shoved in your face. Some of the more hardcore Marvel fans will probably scream like little girls at the mid-credits scene, and the prospect of a sequel makes me excited. Being simultaneously a sequel to four movies and the first one of a new series, The Avengers suffered a bit with the things it had to get out of the way before getting to the good part. A sequel can make do without most of that and allow for a much more interesting evil plan. Joss Whedon also hinted at some deleted scenes we’ll see in the DVD and Blu-ray release, and possibly a more complete Director’s Cut edition, which I – and many other people, I’m sure – would buy without fear.

In conclusion: watch the five other movies if you haven’t already and go watch The Avengers. Even if your expectations are really high, I doubt they won’t be matched or, more likely, completely exceeded.

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