By Justin Zarian
Rating: 3.5 out of 4 Stars
I had my hesitations going into “The Avengers.” Despite the positive word of mouth, the fact that so many big name actors were sharing the screen made me nervous. Usually that means everyone will compete for attention and someone we love will be left in the dust. Thanks to writer and director Joss Whedon, those fears have been put aside to create one of Marvel’s best movies to date.
“The Avengers” begins with Thor’s conniving brother Loki coming to Earth to open a portal for an alien invasion. Seeing no other option, Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury begins “The Avengers Initiative” and assembles our favorite heroes to stop Loki and save the day. You have seen this plot done many times before, but Whedon’s non-stop directing momentum keeps it fresh and entertaining. From the gradual assembly of the heroes to the explosive third act, the film keeps your attention and rewards audiences familiar and unfamiliar to the comics in equal measures.
The real stars of the film are the comedy writing and character development. Whedon’s script balances these larger-than-life personalities to give everyone a moment to shine. From Iron Man and Captain America swapping insults to Agent Coulson’s scene-stealing moments, no one feels overshadowed or wasted. There is a growing sense of camaraderie as we see each character learn how to handle each other, though not without a few massive bumps in the road. The comedic and dramatic dialogue is tailored for both the actor and the character, utilizing their strengths while not compromising their unique quirks. You will laugh your head off more times here than you will in most comedies this year.
Robert Downey, Jr. dominates the scene as Iron Man, providing most of the movie’s best lines. Chris Hemsworth’s Thor is a much more human character this time around. Chris Evan’s Captain America is appropriately corny. Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow plays to Whedon’s love for femme fatales and this movie’s version of The Hulk is perhaps the most entertaining version yet. Even Jeremy Renner shines with his limited screen time, proving once again he is one of Hollywood’s best rising actors. It is an incredibly robust ensemble cast!
However, I do have a few gripes with the film. The opening scenes at the S.H.I.E.L.D. base were rushed and lacked a proper build-up. Loki was better here than in Thor, but he is still not a terribly intimidating villain and his alien army could use more personality. And sadly, I did not like Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner. He is not a bad actor, but he seemed to be trying too hard to be mild mannered.
Nonetheless, this is a terrific film and a great start for the summer that everyone should go see. And before I forget, make sure you stay for both of the end credit scenes.