Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)
85th Academy Awards 2013
Nominated for 1 award.
Nominated for Best Visual Effects (Dan Sudick, Guy Williams, Janek Sirrs, Jeff White).
Watched April 15, 2013.
The Avengers is a drama (with a huge budget) dressed up as an action flick. The first time I saw it in theaters, everyone around me left wiping the drool off of their faces, but I felt a little perplexed. Don’t get me wrong, it’s skillfully done with gorgeously comedic wit and timing as well as off the charts visual effects, but what I expected to be a non-stop fight was in fact slowed down over and over again to make room for dialogue. At the time I had little appreciation for these pauses, especially for a 142 minute film that I saw late at night. Now, however, I find a lot more to love in these moments that we get with our characters.
The Avengers is perhaps one of the most built up epics of all time with multiple prequels designed to entertain, yes, but more importantly introduce all of the main characters. One can’t deny that a stand alone film with all of the personalities unintroduced would reach a much narrower audience. Although The Avengers comics and their fated heroes are well known and revered by many, there is a much bigger audience out there that had little to no idea who Captain American and Thor were before the first Marvel films began to come out.
That being said, it is a lot easier to navigate a story when most of the characters have already had at least one film dedicated to their own story. For those who have less background, such as Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and even more so Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), The Avengers spends a little more time developing their characters, whereas Iron Man needs no introduction.
So why, then, does such a possibility for an action film feel so free to become calm and still so frequently? Because we can’t get enough of these characters, and a constant fight from beginning to end isn’t enough. This film isn’t designed to be 100 percent blockbuster, although it is pretty close. It wants to get into the psyche of everyone, even the bad guy whose motivation might seem a bit shallow.
Loki, Thor’s half brother is back and serving up some revenge on his big brother. He wants to bring the people of earth to their knees, but S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn’t really care for that idea. The Avengers Initiative was tanked years ago when Nick Fury (Samuel Jackson) and his associates decided that big personalities and big powers don’t play well together. With Loki as a threat, however, they become pretty desperate and call in the big guns.
Loki has gotten ahold of the Tesseract, an ancient artifact you might recognize from Captain America as a glowing cube that the Nazis used to create crazy weapons of mass destruction. He intends to take over planet earth by using the cube’s powers, not to mention a little help from some aliens that commissioned the take over.
Inevitably, all of the heroes step up to help, and Thor even makes the journey from Asgard to tell off his little brother. Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk–you name them, they are there and eager. With the constant slow down in the plot, we get a lot of downtime with the personalities. Over two hours of Tony Stark on Steve Rogers bantering gets a little much, and the constant tiptoeing around Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) as the Hulk also turns a little redundant.
The Avengers runs its plot and its characters into the ground, pulling out all the stops. One wonders what they’re going to do in the next film, because they seem to have used it all up in the first one. However, if the third Iron Man just out this summer is any evidence, the Marvel films have a lot more left to say.
I gave the film four out of five stars for the statements above–that if some of the banter and drama could have been left out it would have still been a great film. One of the first rules you learn in filmmaking is that less is more–if you have already showed a shot or a conversation once, you don’t usually want to show it agian. Marvel’s The Avengers is entertaining, well made, and a feast for the eyes. The only problem is that I wasn’t sure if it was trying to be a drama or an action film, because it wasn’t fully one or the other.
I would definitely recommend the film. It is a great one to watch with friends and I look forward to seeing the next installment in theaters.