Greatest. Movie. Ever. No. Really. Greatest. Movie. Ever.
That’s right, kids. The bearded wonder himself has returned to give you something actually worthwhile to read on this God forsaken site. And what better to read about than the newest movie in-line to become the greatest, most amazingly spectacularly epic movie of all time? Ok. Fine. I take it back. Because a movie this good can’t be categorized or ridiculed. It’s literally THAT good. And if you criticize it, I will literally tear your face off. Like a bear. An angry Grizzly bear. On steroids. Who just watched you kick his cub. Then spit on it. Multiple times.
For the rest of the natural world, who’s managed to at least see commercials for each independent Marvel Film, then you’ll recognize each: Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger. Each film has served as a bit of an introduction to each character, and while some of these films were much better than others (Iron Man, anyone?), they’ve all done the job of building anticipation up towards this film. And right out of the gate, it gives this film an air of absolute epicness. And anyone who knows me, knows I HATE using that word. But the fact that this film is the product of five other ENTIRE films, 601 minutes, just over 10 HOURS worth of superhero flicks, is pretty remarkable. It gives an almost immediate satisfaction to the film, before any of the action starts, where story lines, story arcs and plot devices that have appeared throughout some of the other films continue on, are expanded, or are concluded here. It was a massive undertaking to tie loose plot threads from five films into one flick here, but Joss Whedon and the writing team did a marvelous job (see what I did there?)
The films have all been fairly accurate to their respective comic origins, with some of them playing a little more loose than others, but all good just the same. The Avengers follows that trend, taking inspiration for the plot from the early Avengers comics. Following the events of both Thor and Captain America, the Cosmic Cube (called the Tesseract in the film), a potential source for unlimited, renewable energy and untold, immeasurable destruction, is in the possession of S.H.I.E.L.D., where Doctor Selvig is continuing research on the artifact. Enter Loki. Somehow escaped from the void we last saw him fall into, and with a bit of a chip on his shoulders. A glacier-sized chip. Wielding a powerful scepter, he easily overpowers the S.H.I.E.L.D. defenses and escapes with the Tesseract. Enter the Avengers. The namesake superhero team of the film is assembled by Nick Fury, one-by-one, to combat and overcome the imminent threat posed by the God of Mischief, who, like any super villain worth their salt, is bent on subjugating the Earth simply because… well… he wants to. Simple enough, right? Well, being the God of Mischief, Loki’s got a few tricks up his sleeve, and his manipulations feel both very calculated and realistic, given the context of the film, and it benefits both his character, and by extension, the story, to have such a powerful and competent villain. By the end of the film, it feels as though it will take entire Avengers team to combat and defeat Loki, not through his own physical tenacity and power, but because of his resourcefulness. At one point, his very presence sets the team on edge, and true to his divine namesake, creates chaos among them and sets them all at odds with one another.
It’s this very scene that sets the movie apart from other superhero team flicks. Although the film is helped because it doesn’t have to waste time introducing a half-dozen characters, it also benefits from the fact that, despite none of them being the true “lead,” it treats them each as compelling, complex, complicated characters, each with deep-rooted problems and character motivations: Steve Rogers is struggling with being a man out of time and coping with the fact that all those he knew and loved are long dead; Thor is battling with feeling responsible for the fact that his adopted brother, whom he let fall into the void and exile, has returned to wreak havoc on the planet he’s grown to love; Bruce Banner is still forced to keep everyone at arm’s distance, lest he lose control and become the raging, destructive green behemoth, but especially so when cornered with the rest of the team, and after voicing distrust for those who recruited him; Tony Stark is accused of being a showboat and his arrogance sets the rest of the team against him at times. He’s also still really fucking hot. There. I said it.
While the film will be lauded for its numerous intense, fantastic action sequences, I actually enjoyed this scene the most, and it’s the one that sticks out to me when I think back to seeing the film for the first time. The characters all have strong motivations and valid points. Rogers taunts Stark, “Big man in a suit of armor…” while Thor laughs and calls humans petty. This scene, for me, was the most critical of the film, as it took superheroes, who sometimes suffer from being 1-dimensional, and made them into compelling and complex PEOPLE. They’re not just cardboard cutouts with bulging muscles. After the other films, we were already invested into them, but this helped cement that emotional investment, as each character is likable and technically correct, despite their differences. Admittedly, these individuals do not belong in the same room as one another, should never be in the same room together, but they are, and through overcoming their differences they naturally become infinitely stronger. The individual is powerful on their own, but when working together they become nearly unstoppable. Clichéd and contrite, maybe, but it’s a mainstream Hollywood superhero movie, so what do you expect? Only the Chris Nolan Batman franchise does away with modern idioms and stereotypes and adheres to its own rules. Bottom. Line. I also find it worth noting how well-written almost all of the dialogue is, with very little of it sounding corny or cheesy. The film’s interesting and deep characters each have their own sense of humor, with a great deal of that humor being genuinely very, very funny. I actually missed some of the jokes in the film because the crowd was laughing so loudly, but you can rest assured that the team, and as usual Tony in particular, is as sharp as ever and there’s never a joke that feels too forced or out-of-place, with many of them being paced, and more importantly placed, perfectly.
Continuing the trend started with Iron Man that has been the standard for the numerous Marvel superhero flicks, the production values are absolutely the best of the best and are totally top-notch, except more so in this film than the others. You could almost literally say that all of the epicness from the other five films was combined into this one, where both scale, grandiosity, intensity and magnitude of both the story and the action were all combined. The third act gets a little relentless with its action, but considering the five film buildup to it, it seems fitting. The special effects for the film are easily the best I’ve seen in recent memory, with the exception of maybe Avatar. Nothing else feels even close. Not any of the other Marvel films, not any other superhero films, not Bridesmaids, not even Transformers 3. The action in this film is the epitome of nerdgasm, as every Marvel fan boy gets his greatest wish in seeing Earth’s Mightiest Heroes duke it out for two and a half hours.
Unfortunately, with a film like this, namely an ensemble type of cast, you run the risk of feeling like certain people get less than what they deserve. Think of the Ocean’s 11 films, and how some of those guys didn’t get the screen time they probably deserved. Is it possible for there to be too much Saul Bloom in those films? I’d like for the record show that the answer is: “NO!” In this case, the less “super” members of the team feel like they got a bit of the short straw. Hawkeye and Black Widow each play a bit of a supporting role, and perhaps rightfully so. As badass as Natasha Romanoff is, you can’t help but feel like, “what the fuck is this chick doing here?” Next to the Hulk, who tosses around thousands of pounds at a time, and Thor, whose hammer Mjolnir literally calls Lightning storms at will, you wonder how effective a girl in a skin-tight leather suit can be… Well… Actually… Now that I think about it, I guess that answers the question of why she’s there… See? You just can’t go wrong here.
The culmination of over four years worth of anticipation, and an absolutely stellar example of how well superheroes can be written, the film is everything a sequel should be, and through the universe Marvel has established, this film is both a standalone franchise AND a direct sequel to each of the five films that have led up to it. And in true fashion, it’s everything a sequel SHOULD be: bigger, broader, and much BETTER than what came before it. With lots of genuine laughs and more action than you can shake a stick at, I’m just not sure how anyone could possibly be disappointed with it.
I mean, Scarlet Johannsson wears a skin-tight leather suit the entire movie.
And Robert Downey Jr!
I mean, Dear God.