Let me tell you a story: three years ago, or maybe four, a group of Hollywood executives sat down together in a smoky room, and while they were discussing their fabulous wealth, one of them brought up the new Iron Man movie that was currently making a big splash at the box office. Now, given that their industry is one of sometimes blind ambition, it seems almost certain that they began to snowball ideas concerning a sequel to the project – because in Hollywood, one is never enough. So an Iron Man 2 was planned, and before they knew it, one of them had realized – “Wait a minute… Iron Man is one of the Avengers, isn’t he? So, why not make a movie about the Avengers?” Thus the idea for this tremendously super feature was first conceived, and now The Avengers has become the third highest-grossing movie of all time.
The plot of The Avengers (written and directed by Joss Whedon) is obvious enough, and also quite unnecessary in regards to its appeal: basically, the Avengers superhero program was shut down years ago, but now that alien forces have stolen a precious glowing cube (which can offer unlimited power, capable of fueling the planet for an eternity) – and given the fact that these aliens intend to wipe out the human race – the Avengers are called together in a desperate attempt to ward off the invaders and save the Earth from the threat of an evil alien overlord (played by Midnight in Paris’ F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tom Hiddleston).
I haven’t got much to say for this movie other than that it’s fun. It is a superhero movie, and fulfills any and all pretexts that go along with the genre, but it also doesn’t try to achieve anything more than that. Certainly, the special effects are big and fantastic, but also run-of-the-mill; my dad has commented before on how movie effects seem to have leveled off, and indeed, I can’t imagine them getting any better (or more preposterous). In that sense they’ve lost the very quality that makes them special. But this is negligible stuff. The point of the movie is to amaze, and to give the heart a little leap of adrenaline. And that’s what it does, and I’m sure that’s all that it set out to do, so kudos to Mr. Whedon.
What I appreciated most about this movie was how it felt like a throwback to the days when all-star vehicles allowed their players to strut around and throw glib comments at one another, and didn’t merely clump them together for the sake of high-profile publicity stunts. Scarlett Johansson and Robert Downey Jr. hold up especially well, and the two Chrises (Hemsworth and Evans) are well-suited for their respective parts. Mark Ruffalo and Jeremy Renner are the two real actors of this set, and come through nicely as well, especially Ruffalo as the privately raging Hulk. Also, Clark Gregg is a nice right-hand man, and it’s always a delight to see Gwyneth Paltrow, even if it’s only for a couple of minutes. Oh, and Samuel L. Jackson is in this movie – I keep forgetting that, somehow.
It now seems clear that last year’s Thor and Captain America were made purely for the sake of giving two more of this production’s main characters a back story so as to save time for the action sequences. Indeed, the characters one really cares about in this movie are the ones which are given actual semi-in-depth treatment, primarily the Hulk. The Avengers also assumes that its audience will assume a lot before they even step inside the theatre, and so it plays on this mutual understanding just as much as nearly any genre-specific movie released nowadays. Personally, I think that if they’d taken another twenty minutes to build in sub-stories for every main character, then it would have been a far more admirable effort.
As it is, The Avengers is a big motion picture in every sense of the word; and while this reviewer may find it all rather silly, it is still clearly a movie meant for everybody – and really, isn’t that everybody-ness part of what makes going to the movies such a worthwhile event?