When I was 8-years-old, I was staying with my grandmother in Central Pennsylvania and there was a little store that sold comic books not far from where she lived. She took me there and I begged her to buy me one and she chose one called The Avengers and I was obsessed. In fact, I was so obsessed that I stole money out of her purse, snuck back to the store when she took a nap and bought more issues. That was 23 years ago and I never thought I'd see a movie version of that awesome comic superhero group, but here it is and it was totally worth the wait!
After five films and hundreds of millions of dollars, this is what we've been building toward. Marvel Studios took a giant risk with bank rolling these movies before any of them had a proven success rate, all so they could create a film that no one ever thought could be made. Something that combines Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Incredible Hulk all together on one film fighting side-by-side. Every person who even has the slightest interest in these films should be thrilled that they did take that risk because we're left with a film the likes of have never been seen before and not just because they accomplished the collossal task at hand, but also because it's a really freakin' well done movie!
First of all, you have to admire the level of continuity involved in maintaing 99% of the cast through all five films. The one person left out was Edward Norton who plays The Hulk in 2008. Due to Norton being a big baby, the ripped up clothes were donned by Mark Ruffalo (The Kids Are Alright, Shutter Island). I've never really been a fan of his because he plays Ruffalo in every movie, but he's adequite in The Avengers but the whole time you find yourself missing Norton's stellar chops. The good news is that that is the only major flaw in this film.
With the acception that The Avengers starts off kinda cheesy, cliche and not very interesting, the remaining two-and-a-half hours go by faster than Iron Man zooming through the sky. The moment that Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury character assembles all the superheros together, the film is esstentially one big action scene that never feels old or exhausting. The entire thing builds toward a climax at the end that features an hour long sequence that made our theater cheer and the hairs on my arm stand at attention.
Sure this has to do with the Grade A quality acting from the gang, especially Robert Downey Jr. who is the only Iron Man anyone ever wants to see. Of course it has the best CGI FX that money can buy; so much so that you don't realize most of the time that you're looking at them. Naturally, the storyline is fun, easy to follow and pays tribute to the comic book nerds while not geeking out too much that the normals can still play along. I would say that none of this would be possible and the most credit deserves to go to director Joss Whedon!
Who? Exactly. This Whedon guy was well known by almost no one prior to this film. Only some hardcore geeks knew him as the creator of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly shows. Outside of that he was just another TV writer that was floating along in obscurity waiting for his big break. Well, he sure as crap got it. It's like a story about a nobody winning the lottery and then doing something really awesome with his millions instead of blowing all his money on nothing in a year.
Whedon commands every inch of this movie with skill and restraint. That is no easy task when you consider the numbers of egos that had to come on board, the pressure from the all the Comic Con droolheads and the hot breath of studio execs breathing down his neck making sure this delicate egg that happened to have the accomplishments of five other films in it. I can't imagine what his life was like in the last year, but he pulled it off gorgeously and created not only the best movie in the series of five character films, but has birthed one of the best comic book movies ever made. The Avengers deserves to stand among the ranks of The Dark Knight, X-Men: First Class and 1978's Superman.
Be warned though that you probably should see Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America and Thor before seeing this. If you're gonns skip any of them, the one you can't afford to miss is Thor since that sets up the villain Loko, who's played again by a wonderfully theatrical and sinister Tom Hiddleston (Midnight in Paris, War Horse), and also the key element for the plot of The Avengers. Although these are all seperate films they really should be viewed as a series just as interlocking as the Harry Potter films. Even if you it means you have to wait to see The Avengers, watch them all first...but don't wait too long because The Avengers is a film that MUST be seen in a theater and MUST be seen in 3D.
Alright The Dark Knight Rises...there's how high the new bar is set....your move.