Review: The Avengers

Genre: Sci-Fi | Action | Adventure

Director: Joss Whedon

Writer: Zak Penn, Joss Whedon

Cast:  Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders, Samuel L. Jackson

MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action throughout, and a mild drug reference)

Runtime: 142 minutes

When an unexpected enemy emerges that threatens global safety and security, Nick Fury, Director of the international peacekeeping agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D., finds himself in need of a team to pull the world back from the brink of disaster. Spanning the globe, a daring recruitment effort begins.

As I sit down to write this review, I realize that I’m having trouble processing this experience. The Avengers has hung above the sinister precipice of Cinema-Shit-Storm over 4 years now; it has dangled by but a thread, and we as fans have watched it develop with bated breath, silently praying that Hollywood would do right by us. The signs were all good. Joss Whedon was directing it; it was combining 4 very successful and mostly wonderful properties into one masterpiece of comic book cinema epicocity. Still, we worried. And I think what it came down to was, this: ensemble cast comic book movies are hard to make. Looking back, the X-Men franchise did it horribly wrong. Over the span of three films you have a movie that really only focused on two or three characters, making the rest of the cast static and, quite frankly, utterly worthless. I don’t count First Class in that mix, because I don’t care what Hollywood called it. That movie wasn’t a prequel. It was a much deserved reboot.

When it came time for The Avengers to have a go at it, it also came down to the question: could anyone really take an ensemble cast as wonderful and diverse as these characters and make a movie that was truly about ALL of them?  Hell yes, it did. Not only that, this film proves that Marvel Studios has singly, unequivocally built the perfect business model for comic book movies.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I should tell you all now: I’ve never been a fan of The Avengers. Hell, I’m not really a Marvel Comics fan. The only books I ever got into were X-Men and Spider-Man. Everything else was just window dressing that didn’t interest me, but watching this movie made me realize a couple things about Marvel Studios that I hadn’t stopped to appreciate until now. I’m just going to spend the next several minutes unabashedly praising this fantastic piece of cinema. Feel free to chime in with your own thoughts.

First of all is the casting of the Marvel Studios films. You can appreciate Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, and Robert Downey Jr. in their respective properties. They’ve done fantastic jobs bringing Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man to life, but seeing them together, playing their characters alongside each other was a completely different experience. It was almost like realizing for the first time, “Oh, right– These characters really do exist alongside each other in the same universe!” In equal parts talent and direction, they played off of each other wonderfully, the experience seemed organic, almost as if Marvel Studios had always planned for THIS movie and cast their heroes accordingly. Another fantastic bit of casting was Mark Ruffalo. Watching him as Bruce Banner made me forget that Ed Norton played the character first, and while I liked Norton in the role, I LOVED Ruffalo, and I really hope he does a Hulk film in 2015.

Another aspect of this film that was amazing was the scope of the action sequences. Say goodbye to up close, dirty, shaky fight scenes that barely reveal to you what’s going on. Expert choreography and sweeping wide shots had me alternating between squees of joy and dumbfounded awe. It’s hard to remember that much of this movie’s action was shot in front of a green scene. It feels so real. Watching The Avengers do their business in downtown Manhattan was amazing, and when Cap deflects Iron Man‘s particle beam off of his shield into the alien horde, it made me feel like I was playing the old Captain America and the Avengers arcade game from the 90s. Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner even clean up as Black Widow and Hawkeye, two of the least powerful of the group, but no less potent than the rest. Overall, it never seemed like any of these characters just ran around and did nothing. They all played their part, and the “team” aspect of the movie really shines through in the final action sequence.

Finally, and most importantly of course, is the writing and directing. I will always give Joss Whedon his due, but he had a fantastic foundation to work with thanks to the forethought Marvel Studios put into the previous installments. The studio has been doing a great job of balancing comic book drama with levity in all of their films; bringing in Joss Whedon, the king of epic drama laced with wicked humor, just seemed natural and his signature is all over this movie. There were plenty of laughs to be had, both in and out of the action. And in spite of all that, The Avengers is a fantastic story about human relationships (another of Whedon’s specialties). Best of all is how they have a clear progression in mind for sequels. The first Easter egg scene in the credits left me shivering with anticipation.

I’ll say it now: Marvel’s The Avengers is the best comic book movie yet. Ever. Period. Marvel Studios knows their stuff, and after seeing this movie, I can’t wait to see where they take their properties.

I give The Avengers Five out of Five Stars.

The Avengers directed by Joss Whedon and starring Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Renner, Clark Gregg and Tom Hiddleston is in theaters now.

Brandon Johnston
Written by Brandon Johnston

Brandon is a Reporter, Critic, Tornado Alley Correspondent, Technomancer, and Book Department Editor for SciFi Mafia®. When he's not writing for SciFi Mafia®, he's busy being a dad, a novelist, and a man with more hobbies and interests than is healthy for any one person to have.