Before anyone gets pissy, I’m throwing up a massive spoiler warning right here to ward off those who haven’t seen the film yet. I’m not going to be giving away too much, and frankly if you haven’t seen the film yet there’s something terribly, horribly wrong with your life or you had better have a damn good excuse, but either way.
To start off this review, I’m going to teach you some philosophy – I know, but bear with me and I’ll give you the easy abridged version. Way back in the day there was a dude named Plato who was stirring up all kinds of craziness in the world of applied thinking, offering answers to the big questions that people in Ancient Greece asked like “what is morality?” and “which young boy should we fondle next?”
Plato was pondering about morality and what the notion of “good” was, and he came up with a theory that there was a separate world unattainable by us mortals that housed things called Forms. There was a Form for everything, and the Form was the best possible representation of that thing – for instance, the Form of the Chair would be the perfect chair, absolutely flawless and everyone would love it. Likewise, the Form of the Good would be the greatest possible good that there was, and all people would strive towards that, leading a morally good life and such and so on.
I bring this up because if there is a Form of The Avengers Film, this is pretty damned close. Not quite there, because such things are unattainable, but probably as close as we could get without being blinded by sheer awesomeness.
The Avengers (or Avengers Assemble as it’s known in the UK for some stupid legal-rights-ownership reason) is the culmination of years of filmic work by Marvel giving each character their own expository films (and a sequel for lucky Iron Man) and teasing the prospect of a unified Marvel film universe. The hype surrounding this film was massive, especially for a relatively new-to-comics nerd like myself. The films helped bring my passion for comics back from whatever hibernation it was in, and so there was a lot of personal effect riding on Joss Whedon’s work. So, my friends and I dressed up and ventured forth.
It turns out I needn’t have worried. From the get-go, we’re reintroduced to now-familiar characters such as Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson – pretty much all of them since Iron Man) and scientist Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård – Thor), and the film wastes no time in hurling the plot forward like some kind of plot grenade into an enemy trench (that enemy being boredom). This is good, because Marvel assumes that most of the audience will have seen at least one or a couple of the relevant films before The Avengers, and as such doesn’t labour the point of establishing the characters again too much.
This isn’t to say that watching the previous films is necessary – the script is well-written in that each character is given a decent amount of screen time and a succinct but fulfilling introduction that would keep the uninitiated in the loop. The artisan-like craftsmanship of the script and directing continues in the character interaction – Tony Stark’s carefree wanton-dickery really riles up the goody-two-shoes ethics of Steve Rogers, whereas Stark gets along hugely well with the brilliantly played Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo does a fantastic job of creating a likable, sympathetic Banner and puts to rest any qualms I had about him taking up the role).
I’m not going to give up too many plot points, but essentially Loki (the utterly compelling Tom Hiddleston) has got himself an army (and a brainwashed Hawkeye) and is going to attack Earth. It’s up to Nick Fury, along with Black Widow, to amass the greatest team-up event of the summer. I mean, the greatest team of superheroes to save the world. The set pieces are fantastic, especially the scenes aboard the helicarrier and the final showdown, but as has been said around the internet it’s really the interaction between the heroes themselves that makes this movie truly great. Whedon knows what he’s doing with team projects (just look at Buffy and Firefly) and he’s on top form here. Look out for some especially great scenes between Iron Man and Captain America, and Thor and Hulk.
Ultimately, this film lived up to and exceeded the hype surrounding it, which is no mean feat. For me, this was the greatest possible film they could have made, and my head is still reeling from it five days later, and I will no doubt see it again in the cinema. 3D isn’t a must, I saw it in 2D and noticed few scenes where 3D would be a real benefit, so feel free to save yourself some money there. The Avengers has changed how comic book films will be made forever, and I for one can’t wait to see what comes next.
Just as a final note, there’s a death in this film that I found quite shocking and surprisingly touching. Oh, and like I even have to say anything because it’s a Marvel film, but stick around for the credits. All you fellow comic fans with thank me.