My Favourite Avenger
It's almost like a no-brainer to put together some of Marvel's mightiest heroes, all of whom have their own films that have been worldwide successes, into one single film to encompass what the comic books have already done for years. There's no bigger comic book team up than the Avengers, bringing about a staple of heroes in their own franchises, and combining them into an initiative to do battle against adversary larger than any one of them can handle alone. And Joss Whedon seemed to have nailed the film version right in the head, drawing upon the strengths of what previous directors have done with the individual films, and putting them together for what would now be the mother of all comic book superhero movies.
Although if I may add a little personal bias here, The Avengers is perhaps the Hulk movie that never got made until now, leaving the other two films starring Eric Bana and Edward Norton biting the dust. When Mark Ruffalo was announced as taking over the mantle of the gamma powered being with anger management issues, I'm sure many like myself would have been bewildered, but Ruffalo shows why he's the best Hulk just yet, and is a mean Bruce Banner as well. We get back to seeing Banner being a scientist, enlisted not for his raging abilities, but that of being the go to expert on gamma radiation. That doesn't mean he's a pushover when it comes to the crunch, and with Ruffalo being motion captured rather than having the Hulk purely CG, is something different, not to mention the countless of cool scenes the big monster gets himself into thanks to his powered abilities. In short, it's almost Hulk 3: Hulk and Friends instead.
But I digress. The Avengers finally made it to the big screen after all those stingers in the various Marvel movies gave audiences a tease for years. The wait is over, and boy, was it worth the wait. We welcome back the familiar faces in Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), as well as the SHIELD agents in director Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Coulson (Clark Gregg) and new addition Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), as well as bit roles to others such as Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), Jarvis (Paul Bettany), Professor Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard), with Loki (Tom Hiddleston) stringing all of them into a fit as the villain hell bent on enslaving all of humanity, with help from an alien race army of course. Talk about an ensemble cast!
And true to form, Joss Whedon devotes adequate time to almost all of the Avengers, and making this more like an extension of their individual films as we dwell a little bit more into the background and issues each hero face, some which we know of from their earlier arcs that thankfully don't get rehashed too much save for certain quick montage sequences. Tony Stark has just about finished his research on renewable energy, not forgetting a new version of his armour that we'd get to see here (the Mark VII), Captain America still finding his feet in the real world and showing shades of the leader he's growing into, and Thor continuing his bickering with half brother Loki that culminates into having him being sent back to Earth to take his villainous brother back to Asgaard once again. The quieter moments in the film provides plenty of opportunity for characterization, and Whedon doesn't disappoint in showing how well he's comfortable and knowledgeable about each one of them from comic folk lore.
And when it comes to what fan boys all over the world are clamouring for, Whedon doesn't disappoint when it comes to larger than life action that pits the Avengers either against each other, playing into the hand of Loki in his divide and conquer strategy, and when they finally get their act together to cooperate and save the world. The Team Ups here, either in twos or threes, is fun in every essence of the word, pitting each hero against each other, or when cooperating to address problems that require their unique, combined abilities. And there's always good natured humour around the corner when you least expect, some really taking you by surprise, yet is still keeping true to the nature of each character. If you'd think the bulk of the wisecracks come from Stark, well, think again!
Whedon also makes it a conscientious point never to rehash what had already been seen in the individual movies, but providing a lot more and expanding the scope from what had been done before. I assure you that you'd haven't seen the Hulk do battle like what he does here, easily becoming a fan favourite and stealing the thunder from the rest, and of course a lot more from Captain America whose own film saw a limited variation in his fighting abilities, as compared to what he finally does here. Thor with Mjolnir is another dimension and class altogether, while Hawkeye finally saw some battles of his own after his short cameo appearance in Thor where he didn't fire a single projectile. The biggest challenge and change of course was on Tony Stark, and it would be interesting to see if this change, about being less egoistical and self-centered, would translate into his next film as well. The final battle that took at least half an hour of screen time, is the Avengers comic book come alive in larger than life spectacle that's best seen in the IMAX 3D format.
So what's next? Iron Man 3 will blast off and be first off the blocks, then there should be another Captain America film that will showcase more of SHIELD. I guess maybe either Thor or Hulk may make a big screen return next, before getting everyone together again for another hurrah, hinted upon midway through the end credits, but which was mentioned would be a smaller film than this one. Let's wait and see, but in the meantime, get out there and enjoy this one heck of a ride! Definitely a film that fans of either hero will find irresistibly awesome and in a league of its own. More please!