Yes, I know I’m late to the party, but needing a sitter to go out and catch a movie with the wife will do that to you. Regardless, I finally saw The Avengers last weekend and thought it was a great (but not perfect) flick. I know a lot of people are saying that this is the greatest comic book movie ever made, but I’ll have to politely disagree with them. It’s probably the best Marvel universe superhero movie (Captain America and Iron Man are right on its heels). However, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight are both better films (and if The Dark Knight Rises is as good as the trailers appear, that will be pushed ahead of The Avengers as well). I’m not sure where I’d put Hellboy and The Incredibles in my ranking, but both of those movies would also make my top ten list of comic book films.
Anyway, back to The Avengers. Below are my thoughts. There will be some spoilers.
- Scarlett Johansen (Black Widow) - She really came across as a stronger character than her cameos in Iron Man. Good acting/backstory. Really showed why she was made a member of the team.
- Captain America - Evans continues to be perfectly cast as Steve Rogers. I loved how in the end everyone deferred to him as the leader of the group and he came up with the tactics/strategy for the situation.
- Bruce Banner/The Hulk - As others have said, this was the best version of the characters in film. Norton was good in the role, but Ruffalo was great. I also thought it was a huge plus to actually give the Hulk some personality and lines which is consistent to his portrayal in the comics.
- Iron Man - What can I really say about Downey that hasn’t already been said? Another good performance.
- The fight/battle scenes - Throughout the movie, they were awesome from an entertainment standpoint and also in that they played off of the rivalries present in the comics. Whedon did a good job showcasing each character’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Lots of cool nuggets/phrases/references dropped throughout the film that comic fans like me enjoyed (i.e. Agent Coulson’s girlfriend).
- The extra scene of Thanos at the end was nice. I only hope that he is actually the main villain of the third film and we just see him pulling strings in a second film to set up his big appearance. Otherwise, I’m not sure where you go after Thanos if you use him in the second film.
- The opening sequence - It really soured my opinion immediately on the film. The entire scene just didn’t really work for me: bad dialogue, illogical character decisions, etc. I remember thinking, “Wow, please tell me THIS isn’t what people were going crazy over.” Because of this, it took awhile for me to actually start enjoying the film and it probably skewed other parts of the movie because I kept thinking about how bad the opening had been.
- Dialogue - Ok, I know Joss Whedon is considered a god in geek culture and I do like a lot of his work. However, I’ve always felt that for every 2-3 great moments he has, there is one really cheesy moment that doesn’t work. The trend continued here. A couple of really awesome bits of character exchanges and momentum would be derailed by trying to force humor into a situation that didn’t need it. As a result, the execution felt awkward.
- Overall cheesiness - I know this is definitely meant to be a more “fun” movie which I’m fine with. However, certain scenes/moments didn’t come across well and often brought me down from a great high. For example, we see this unreal battle at the end of the movie which ends with Loki crawling away. He turns and we see the Avengers standing over him in their movie poster poses (blah). This only gets worse when Loki makes a sheepish joke about wanting a drink. Ugh, that quick scene almost bothered me as much as the opening sequence.
- Hawkeye - I never was a huge fan of his in the comics, but I can understand his usefulness as he was really The Avenger’s leader/tactician when Captain America wasn’t around. In the film, they make him a spy which seems redundant based on Black Widow’s character. So, he’s basically relegated to someone with great eyesight. It would have been much cooler to have The Wasp or Ant-Man in his place (both founding members of The Avengers). He just seemed like a filler character.
- Thor - I like the character and Hemsworth is good in the role. However, it felt like he got lost in the superhero shuffle.
Despite several missteps, The Avengers is still a great movie that’s worth seeing.