Hype can be a dangerous game sometimes. It can literally make or break a film’s opening weekend. While Disney may have completely trounced any hopes of making money off their gargantuan marketing game for John Carter, thankfully, they were also paying attention to the real first summer blockbuster of the 2012 season. Whether you believe the hype or not, it will come as no surprise to hear me say that yes, Marvel’s The Avengers is everything you could possibly hope for. So much as to the tune of $260 million overseas as of this writing, before the film even opens stateside! While fanboys have a love/hate relationship with Joss Whedon, true believers had nothing but faith in the man behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Serenity, and The Cabin in the Woods to make him the best man for the job in finally assembling The Avengers.
In The Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D. has turned the cosmic cube into a giant arc reactor called the Tesseract in a secret underground bunker with the help of Dr. Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård). Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) has been called on scene by Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) because they can’t turn it off. The Tesseract has opened a portal to another world allowing Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to return to earth to steal the Tesseract for himself and use it as a weapon of mass destruction against the people of Earth. Now, Nick Fury has no choice but to reopen the Avengers Initiative against the World Security Council’s best interest. The world’s only hope lies in the hands of Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), and Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). Not to mention first hand assistance from S.H.I.E.L.D. members Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner).
A couple of weekends ago, a buddy and I had a Marvel marathon watching all five of the “prequels” leading up to this monumental achievement. Not having the ability to watch them all according to the Avengers-world timeline, we opted for chronological based on release date. Through Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America we flew. It was a spectacular twelve hours I wouldn’t trade for anything. Watching them all back to back just reminds you that this Avengers film has been building since 2008 and can now, finally, do as Hulk does best – smash! And smash it shall. These films’ biggest secret weapon lies in its sense of fun, and there are no words to explain just how fun it is.
If you think that one character or another may get left in the dust, Whedon has made sure to give every single character a chance to shine here. Particularly during the mano-a-mano character bouts and a seemingly one take brawl bouncing from one character to the next during the grand finale. Where things could have become immensely convoluted, Whedon keeps things clipping along at a pace more furious than an angry green monster. The man is an incredible writer, of course (let’s not forget Oscar-nominated to boot for the original Toy Story). While the action may stop here and there to give us all a breather, he uses these moments to carry on the grand tradition missing from most mega-budget summer blockbuster Hollywood extravaganzas: character. Thank you, Mr. Whedon.
And speaking of that, it appears glaringly clear that the only director working in Hollywood who truly understands the Hulk character seems to be Whedon, who finally gives us a Hulk worthy of his own movie. Not to mention the fact that Ruffalo makes the perfect Banner/Hulk playing both characters thanks to the now more useful than ever motion capture technology. Hulk is voiced by Lou Ferrigno as always and Stan Lee makes his requisite cameo. Same goes for the end credit pay off scene (psst, of which there are two!).
You would never know this was a 142 minute film; it seriously feels more like maybe thirty. I can’t wait for the extended Blu-ray cut as the original length was said to be around three hours, which still doesn’t seem long enough to experience this level of awesomeness in a movie theater, and I can’t wait to take it all in again. Congratulations to everyone involved; the movie event of the year is here!
Photos courtesy Marvel Studios