I don’t think anyone expected The Avengers to be such a success. But thanks to Joss Whedon, the mastermind behind Buffy and Angel, the much-hyped superhero film is a remarkable achievement – it’s fun, funny and just plain fantastic.
The film’s primary strength lies in its script. Whedon recognizes each of our heroes and what makes them unique, and he gives them all moments to shine. The script services the story AND the characters, creating a combo that’s thoroughly engrossing and exciting. Of course The Avengers wouldn’t have worked without a whole lot of buildup, and thanks to the heroes’ solo outings, the film doesn’t have to wade through a whole of exposition and origin stories (a problem that might derail the upcoming Batman vs Superman and the plethora of heroes who are making first-time appearances). Avengers starts off a bit slow, but gradually gains momentum towards an explosive climax packed with thrills.
Predictably, the film’s cast is stellar. Robert Downey Jr. supplies his usual dose of awesomeness as Tony Stark, while the rest of the team (Evans, Ruffalo, Hemsworth, Johansson, and Renner) are all terrific. They banter and bounce off each other beautifully, and it’s that clever and easygoing dynamic that elevates the film above other superhero adventures.
From a technical standpoint, The Avengers is mindblowing. The CGI is top-notch, and the action sequences are outstandingly brought to life in all their blood-pumping glory. The final all-out war in Manhattan is a particular gem to behold, never once letting the adrenaline and excitement subside as the baddies slowly gain the upper hand and all hope seems lost. A case could be made that our heroes basically end up fighting hordes of mindless drones, but I never felt detached from the proceedings thanks to the witty dialogue and unrelenting badassery.
Which brings me to the only complaint I have about The Avengers: Loki is simply not a strong enough villain. Tom Hiddleston is fine, but he’s simply not menacing or sinister enough for this spectacle. There’s a never a true sense of urgency when he’s on-screen, and you never really fear for the characters’ lives. It’s an element that prevents the film from being perfect, but judging from the sequel’s trailer, it looks like Joss Whedon has rectified this mistake with Ultron, a creepy and ominous antagonist.
Instead of crumbling under its own weight, The Avengers is actually one of Marvel’s finest offerings with epic set pieces and humour to spare. Here’s hoping Age of Ultron can top it.