What can be said about Marvel‘s The Avengers (or Avengers Assemble) that can’t be pushed out the way Hulk-style by someone proclaiming box office numbers? Probably not a lot. However, for once box office and the quality of a film seem to be on a par.
Now, let’s get one thing straight, The Avengers can’t be considered high art-not by any stretch of the imagination-but it does work as a comic book film. Although it follows the Iron Man, Thor and Captain America films, its closet companion in the pantheon of superhero movies is actually last year’s X-Men: First Class. That film also managed to fit great actors and a smart script into the confines of the genre and deliver something that works in both its dialogue and action scenes. The Avengers may skew the darkness and weighty themes of Christopher Nolan’s Batman films, but it is an enjoyable action extravaganza, something which makes it perfect summer entertainment.
I’m no Joss Whedon fan. I’ve never understood the fascination with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, nor did I succumb to the rampant love of Firefly. To me he will always be one of the fathers of “The Offspring” in Alien Resurrection, and that’s a tough hurdle to overcome. Whedon has managed it though, and the best sequences in The Avengers are the quiet ones, the dialogue moments where characters breathe.
By now Robert Downey Jr can play Tony Stark in his sleep, and it’s difficult to tell where the character ends and RDJ begins, so he’s great as always. Chris Hemsworth’s Thor is again great casting (although a tad underserved here), Chris Evans embodies the Americana of Captain America and it’s great to see an actor like Mark Ruffalo get the chance to shine in a big film like The Avengers, but even better to see him deliver the stand-out performance of The Hulk and Bruce Banner (something that even Ed Norton and Eric Bana couldn’t do). The ensemble cast is rounded out by Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow (the obligatory chick), Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye (underused), with Samuel L. Jackson once again playing Nick Fury and Tom Hiddleston as the evil Loki. That’s a lot of characters for a film that clocks in at 2 hours and 20 minutes, and that’s before I even mention Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders, Stellan Skarsgård and Gwyneth Paltrow. However, it works.
Like I said, the dialogue scenes are what work best, with enough wit and humour to stop the film getting bogged down with explosions-speaking of which, the effects in the action sequences are first rate-and I’m a man who hates CGI. My main gripe is that the finale is a touch too close to Transformers 3 for my liking, but at least it doesn’t appear to have been edited by someone with ADD. Having said that, The Avengers is about a world-ending threat that is thwarted by a group of superheroes; that’s what the majority of viewers have thrown their cash down for, and that’s what they get. In spades.