This May brings comic book fans the film they have been expecting since the first Iron Man film came out 4 years ago and Director Nick Fury informed Tony Stark of something called “The Avengers Initiative.” Luckily, “The Avengers” (or “Marvel's The Avengers”) will appeal to non-fans, too.
Directed by Joss Whedon, he of the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” television series fame who few believed capable of carrying off such a feat, on a script that he also contributed to, “The Avengers” is, without a single trace of doubt, the biggest and best superhero movie Marvel ever came out with.
Critics describe it as a celebration of specialness, and fans can't but agree. Just think of what would happen if Marvel threw a big party and invited everyone who is anyone: that's what its latest film is.
Director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), in charge of SHIELD (the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division), is faced with a breach of security and global threat like no other before, when god Loki (Tom Hiddleston) breaks into the headquarters and steals the tesseract.
This tesseract presents itself in the shape of a very pretty cube that actually has powers man has never known before: not only can it provide unlimited sustainable energy, but it also holds the key to a portal to other worlds.
Somewhat predictably, Loki plans to use this portal to bring onto Earth the army of Chitauri, serpent-like aliens with powerful weapons and war vehicles, who are out to destroy everything in their path.
Those who've already seen the previous Marvel films that laid the grounds for “The Avengers” (“Iron Man,” “Captain America” or “Thor”) will not need filling in on the details; for those who didn't, mention must be made that Loki is primarily motivated by jealousy in his “glorious purpose,” since his god father chose Thor (Chris Hemsworth) over himself, so he's been dedicating himself to a life of crime ever since.
Since such a threat is too big to face with our human, limited resources, Fury turns for help to a bunch of “freaks” he once considered using for a special project that never came to happen. The timing is perfect now.
Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), the playboy billionaire formerly known for his dealings in mass-destruction weapons, becomes the almost indestructible Iron Man when he wears a suit he designed himself and which confers to him powers regular people can only dream of.
Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) is a soft-spoken, rather timid doctor who dedicates his life to helping others in poverty-stricken countries. However, when he gets angry, he turns into this green, huge, insanely muscular and fearless monster also known as The Hulk, whom he desperately tries to keep down because he's also uncontrollable.
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is a god from Asgard. He's handsome and very old-fashioned but, of course, that's not his superpower, but rather the ability to swing the most powerful hammer in the universe (which also summons lightning).
Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) doubles as Captain America when he slips into his silly-looking body suit. He might be still stuck in the past (he's been frozen for many decades) but his heart is always in the right place, holding patriotism and civic duty higher than anything else.
Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) and Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) aren't exactly superheroes like the other members of the team, but that's not to say they're to be ignored in the field of battle, as the aliens wreaking havoc to downtown Manhattan learn.
They don't call them The Black Widow and Hawkeye for no reason: there is basically nothing she can't do, either in terms of counter-intelligence or martial arts skills, while he turns into the most powerful opponent if he has his bow.
Once assembled, this special task force has first to face a challenge that is just as difficult as that of dealing with Loki and his army of aliens: they have to learn to play nice with each other.
Only afterwards can all these magnificent and deeply flawed individuals work together to save our beloved planet from the terrible danger it is in – and flawed they are, trust us.
As a rule, superhero movies are (more or less) underwhelming because, no matter how much all those involved in them insist they were done with fans in mind, it's the fans who walk out of the theater feeling frustrated, cheated, disappointed.
That will not happen with “The Avengers” and we probably have to thank writer / director Joss Whedon for it, because not once does he remove himself from the audience of the film he made.
Each time viewers laugh, roll their eyes or gape at the screen, Whedon is right there with them, sharing the experience.
In tackling so many plot lines and so many characters, he succeeds in doing what other directors failed at: he clothes each superhero in flesh, gives them a soul and time to shine in front of the camera, while also delivering explosive action and solid entertainment.
There isn't just one hero that steals the spotlight because they all get their 15 minutes – and not in a gratuitous manner either, it all makes sense in the end.
Indeed, the film plays out just as loud and fast-paced like, say, any of the “Transformer” films but, unlike them, it has a heart that beats underneath all this. It's a beautiful, marvelous thing to behold.
“The Avengers” runs for a whopping 143 minutes, and is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action throughout, and a mild drug reference. It opened worldwide on May 4, and will conclude its run in Japan on August 17.
“The Avengers” is both all about style and substance. It's flashy, FX-packed, loud and in 3D, and features a bunch of guys in silly outfits, but it also gives real meaning to all these superheroes by allowing them to have a heart. Joss Whedon did a wonderful job, as also did the spectacular cast.
Skip “The Avengers” only if you don't like your summer entertainment served with a side dish of awesome.
“The Avengers” is Marvel's best film to date and should be a standard for all future superhero films. It's fun, it's funny and it's insane in the best way possible. It also refuses to take itself too seriously, while delivering a few moments of genuine tension – a must-see for both fans and non-fans of comic books.
As a tip, make sure you stay in the theater until the final credits run because Whedon included an Easter Egg for you: a hint as to the villain in the sequel.