The Avengers (2012)
Directed by Joss Whedon
What have we created, America? “The Avengers” assembled to great cheer and commotion, but now it has rallied its way to IMDb’s Top 250 list, landing itself at 31st (just two days after being released). It made over $80 million dollars Friday, the second-highest-grossing day of all time. Does it deserve the attention? The story is a simple reminisce of the 1950’s drive-in era, where bringing a group of popular characters together brought in the crowds (after all, “Thor,” “Iron Man,” and “Captain America” did pretty well as their own movie franchises).
So, director Joss Whedon rounded up Iron Man, the Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Thor, and Captain America to fight Thor’s evil brother Loki and his innumerable alien army. Simple as that. I’ll go on record right now and say that Mark Ruffalo is the greatest Hulk I’ve ever seen (not even Norton could have pulled off this nuanced performance). The Hulk flies through the air and punches flying metallic eels straight to the earth, just like the trailers. It’s a treat to see him fight. Robert Downey, Jr. isn’t quite himself as Iron Man…something about his usual snarkiness seemed off. Plus, he only used his epic heat lasers to weld metal, though I guarantee they would kill if he intended them to. The Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) is a superheroine? She kicks people and has a pistol, I don’t see the novelty. Captain America (Chris Evans) may be propaganda, even today, but his shield is epic and his fist-fighting feels…it just feels right in that nostalgic way. Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) needs his own movie, but this is a good foot in the door. His archery was aesthetically pleasing, especially in slow motion (actually, I was pleased to see more than a few amazing slow-mo sequences). Loki (Tom Hiddleston) was great, minus the corny horns that randomly appeared with his costume. And Thor (Chris Hemsworth), in all his masculine, classical glory, was a blast to see (I never saw his movie, but now I plan on it).
Congratulations to cinematographer Seamus McGarvey (Oscar-nominated for “Atonement”) for using long shots, reflections, and other interesting camera work to set it apart from most other superhero movies. Cheesy jokes sometimes hit the spot, but generally the terrible dialogue just got to be too much. Of the 2 ½ hours, only about 1 ½ is real action anyway. If “The Avengers” replaced the dialogue with more of its great score and better sound effects, it may have found a legitimate home. And for fans of action, it does. But at times, it does so at the sake of believable dialogue. And that is nothing to assemble for.