The Avengers takes all your wildest expectations and smashes them like the Hulk - it’s everything you want in a superhero film, and more.
The Avengers is a result of the biggest buildup in cinema history, with the quartet of Iron Man and its sequel, The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger made to pave the way for an epic boss fight, and it delivers in thoroughly awesome ways. Nearly every minute of The Avengers throbs with heart-pounding fun, from the big opening apocalyptic scene at the S.H.I.E.L.D base to the gargantuan effects-soaked final battle.
Director Whedon combines extremely clever lines, bombastic CGI with unexpected character development, and elevates the overused superhero genre to something much more substantial. He completely resists the temptation to make a dark brooding drama, and in taking a more gregarious direction, the film becomes infinitely more refreshing.
Firstly, you are unlikely to find a more likable ensemble of characters in any film anywhere. Not only do you get to witness the spectacle of Iron Man and Captain America fight alongside each other, and The Hulk and Thor smashing people together, but you’re also greeted with terrific witty back and forth banter between them all. It’s clear that Whedon is crazy about comic books and he balances the large and iconic cast of characters with the passionate dexterity of a 14-year-old genius surgeon.
The plot is naturally an excuse to get the big guys together. Baddie Asgardian Loki (Tom Hiddleston) arrives on earth to rule humans and has an alien army to enforce his regime. To deal with the threat, S.H.I.E.L.D director Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) assembles the motley group of Avengers to kick copious amounts of alien buttock and defend the planet. But putting all these guys in a single room doesn’t go too smoothly initially — they bicker hilariously and bombard each other with scathing one-liners.
While Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is super serious and methodical, Tony Stark (Downey Jr) is amusingly narcissistic, Thor (Hemsworth) is a vengeful foreigner, Black Widow (Johansson) is menthol cool and sexy as hell, and unlike in her previous appearance, she is smart and suave. There’s an interesting twist to Hawkeye’s (Renner) character, but Mark Ruffalo brings a wonderful new shade to Bruce Banner and really steals the show as the Hulk.
The special effects are colossal and eye popping, and there are plenty of bigger than life moments. In fact the whole second half is one ambitious action scene grander than all the other Marvel films put together.
Hiddleston makes a very interesting villain, and a scene involving him and the Hulk towards the end will leave your face with the widest possible grin. Samuel L Jackson is his usual pulpy self and Whedon goes one step further and gives Agent Coulson (Cobie Smulders) a meatier role.
The Avengers took almost 50 years to appear on screen together, and the wait has indeed been worthwhile. It’s one of the most entertaining films ever made - it’s total delight to just sit back and enjoy the fireworks.