WHO WOULD'VE THOUGHT?! As much I was looking forward to it, a little part of me was certain that The Avengers, with so many other generally entertaining films leading up to it, a plethora of "heroes" ready to outshine each other, a probably incompetent script, and possibly one too many Michael Bay-esque explosions, would be a bust. Even my more hopeful side was pretty convinced that it would fall prey to at least one of the dangerous missteps above. But WHO WOULD'VE THOUGHT THAT IT WILL BE *THIS* MINDBLOWINGLY BRILLIANT!!
Nick Fury, director of the secret agency S.H.I.E.L.D., has the Tesseract, a mysterious object that is the source of unknown energy, and with the help of physicist Dr. Erik Selvig, is trying to harness its power. When the Tesseract suddenly gets activated, it opens a portal through which the exiled god Loki steps through. Loki has made a pact with an evil alien race called the Chitauri, who will help him conquer Earth in exchange for the Tesseract. Loki, forever the god of mischief, starts to wreak havoc the moment he comes and soon Fury has to recruit a team of super soldiers, assasins, a demi god and a Hulk to fight these lethal enemies and save the earth.
I am not going into more detail than that. Prior to watching it, I carefully, and with rather difficulty, avoided all the reviews of this film, and I think everyone should do that (except this one of course *wink*). You may think that the one billion promotional photos and videos may be giving things away, but it really is not the case. The film was literally nothing like what I expected it to be. I mean I am no comic book nerd, and those who are may know details about the stories that I didn't. Still I am quite the lover of superhero movies, well-made action movies, smart movies, movies with great one-liners, movies that are outstanding ensemble pieces and movies with a superb supervillain for me to geek out on. The Avengers was all of this, and maybe even more.
Let's break this down one by one. This might just become my favourite "superhero" superhero film ever, when compared to every other film of this genre except the Nolan Batman trilogy because those films are a number of other things too. Ever since Ironman in 2008, the big screen adaptations of Marvel comics have been a big marketing campaign with little clues and pointers spread out throughout them. One may even say that the whole of Captain America was more or less a trailer to The Avengers. It must have been a colossal task to put it all together in such a way that everything fits and that all the major characters that we have seen and loved in the previous films get enough spotlight, while also creating a unique and effective story. Joss Whedon of the Buffy fame, who also directed the film, co-wrote the story with Zak Penn and they were successful in completing this task. Sure there was some science-y jargon that no one got, but it is an intelligent script, and equally important, a really funny one. This film is packed with one-liners and humorous situations. Like in the case of Tintin, it is a whole another experience when a full house laughs and cheers at a joke or a scene, and The Avengers provided us with many such instances that made it really fun.
Now since it is a superhero film, there are some expectations that we all go in with. We know that there will be a few blasts and and a couple of brawls and maybe some shooting etc. The special effects in The Avengers were very good. While I wouldn't call them groundbreaking, I will say that they were exactly the right amount. There wasn't the novelty of Ironman's suit, which is still incredibly cool, or the glittery world of Asgard, or an astoundingly tiny version of Chris Evans. But I liked the fact that the effects in The Avengers don't overwhelm you, which is what they usually seem to do. I did see this in 3D and too much CGI becomes painful, but the film used the technology skillfully. The overall look and feel of the film definitely was quite stunning. Even amongst the booms and bangs, we see characters fighting at street level and it just felt so normal when compared to say huge metal robots bashing down buildings like bowling pins. The action sequences were quite cleverly crafted so as to use the various powers of all these different superheroes perfectly. Also, this is the film where I feel Hulk has the most realistic look yet.
Coming to the cast, this film truly wins for me in what it manages to do with such an assortment of extraordinary persons. Too many cooks can spoil the broth, and similarly too many superheroes probably can destroy the world, or worse a film. However, The Avengers finds itself in the company of those rare films where ensemble casts work immaculately well with each other. The story gives enough room for each character to grow and flesh out without focusing on any one individual. Even someone as relatively common as Agent Phil Coulson, played by the lovely Clark Gregg, has an excellent character arc and story. Talking about them separately, the returning and already established superheroes- Ironman, Thor and Captain America, are as fun and heroic as ever. Robert Downey Jr. who plays the "genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist" Tony Stark/Ironman is cocky and epic and has some of the best lines in the film. The ginormous Chris Hemsworth is Thor, who is now humble, but still has the airs of a god and a complimenting presence. Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America is remains as the goody two-shoes, and adorably so. These three clash the most because they have each battled evil before, and they each think their own way is the right way.
But I really appreciated the script when it came to the characters we didn't know as well. Jeremy Renner plays Clint Barton/Hawkeye, a character we knew nothing of, and he is given an interesting story. Another elusive character is that of Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow played by Scarlett Johannson. This is definitely one of the best performances that she has ever given. She was cool and tough and though in no way Russian, pretty kickass nonetheless. Now Bruce Banner/Hulk has been portrayed twice before onscreen and though I like Edward Norton, I was never into the big green guy. However with Mark Ruffalo's nuanced meekness, the change becomes all the more amazing. While I still proclaim that all the characters were on an equal footing for me in this film, I have to give extra credit to Whedon for finally making me a fan of Hulk. I can now see what little boisterous boys see in him and I seriously admire that.
Last but not the least, Tom Hiddleston as Loki was a fantastic supervillain. It is no mean feat for a relatively new comer like him to stand his own against so many more accomplished actors playing such juicy characters. But Hilddleston's Loki, with his eloquent and poisonous way of talking, chilly glare and snarly smile, and quite a commanding presence, is a serious antagonist for all our heroes. One scene where I especially liked him when he almost slithers down a flight of stairs in Germany before striking someone with his sceptre. It is quite an Alex DeLarge sort of moment. Also when he is ruthlessly insulting Natasha, I couldn't help but think about The Silence of the Lambs. These are some of my favourite negative characters, so you can understand how much I love Loki.
All hats off to Whedon for what he has done with this film, against all odds. He has managed to make an impeccably entertaining film, with rich and memorable characters and some splendid action sequences. I had written in my review of Chronicle that it is the superhero film to beat this year. Well, the Avengers have just hauled its little telekinetic ass out of this world. This may just become the superhero film to beat ever. I hear people are already campaigning for The Avengers to get a SAG Best Ensemble nod, and I am totally joining the party. It is too early to say now, but this may also become my Harry Potter film of the year, which is the film I personally will dream about getting a Best Picture Oscar nomination in spite of well, reality.
In conclusion I will just like to say that I threw a fit to watch The Avengers on the opening weekend, and I am a person whose aim in life is to get independence like a fully-functioning adult. However, I acted like a child to see this film, and that is just what some of us have to do sometimes. Of course it was completely worth it, but it is also fun to be a little kid for a while with the big explosions, the whole bunch of hilarity and the good old heroes beating the villains. The Avengers let me be that little kid and it was marvelous (pun maybe intended).