Joss Whedon serves up Marvel's The Avengers | Film Review | Indy Week
Pin It

Joss Whedon serves up Marvel's The Avengers 

Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, Chris Evans as Captain America and Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow

Photo by Zade Rosenthal, courtesy of Marvel

Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, Chris Evans as Captain America and Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow

The long-gestating Marvel superhero showcase The Avengers comes saddled with hulking expectations, an iron-fisted fan base and hawkish backers hoping the latest entry in this banner franchise can captain the American movie scene back from recently stark box office tallies.

The looming quandary—beyond the fact that it's impossible to fashion a pun using Thor—is how to cobble together a satisfying and sensible ensemble film spawned from a quintet of cinematic table setters ranging from good (Iron Man) to middling (Thor, Captain America and The Incredible Hulk) to woeful (Iron Man 2).

Helmed by screenwriter, director and part-time comic book author Joss Whedon, The Avengers manages, against formidable odds, to hit all the right notes. Based on the premise of the very first Avengers comic in 1963, Earth's mightiest heroes, chaperoned by the cyclopean Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), must join forces to thwart the aims of revenge and world domination by Loki (Tom Hiddleston), the estranged brother of Asgardian demigod Thor (Chris Hemsworth).

Long before a Transformers-style finale in which the Avengers must repel an invasion by the Orc-like Chitauri, the true tension is between the superheroes themselves. As a roiling brew of ids and alpha males, these crusaders bicker and bloviate. Whether it's the madcap narcissism of Tony Stark/ Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), the dogged devotion to duty of Captain America (Chris Evans), the tumultuous duality of Bruce Banner/ Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) or Thor's god complex, each Avenger exudes their own persona and agenda. Whether the group could defeat Loki isn't really in doubt; the question is whether they can ever co-exist, much less collaborate in the first place.

Whedon manages to successfully juggle screen time to afford each character a spotlight, including increased screen time for sultry spy Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). There's even a nod to the villainous comic book origins of Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) when Loki hijacks the ace archer's mind for nefarious purposes. Shrewder still is that the script doesn't take itself so seriously, often allowing humor to drive the narrative even more than action. Spearheading that effort, of course, is the indomitable Downey, who is wisely given space to wisecrack—e.g., he calls the full-maned Thor "Point Break" at one point and later refers to Hawkeye as "Legolas"—and recapture the loose abandon of his character in the first Iron Man. Even Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) pops up to rekindle her Nick and Nora-esque repartee with Stark.

Action lovers needn't fret, however, as the film has more than enough computer-generated F/X to spackle its plot holes and utter lack of depth (passing allusions to forcible interrogation and clean energy feel like they belong in another movie). Titanic tussles between Iron Man and Thor and, later, Thor and The Hulk are the stuff of fanboy dreams. The Dark Knight this isn't—instead, The Avengers is a superhuman three-ring circus filled acrobatics, wild beasts, clowns and all the popcorn you can munch. Oh, and a Hulk.

This article appeared in print with the headline "Marvelous worlds."

Film Details

Marvel's The Avengers
Rated PG-13 · 142 min. · 2012
Official Site: marvel.com/avengers_movie
Director: Joss Whedon
Writer: Zak Penn and Joss Whedon
Producer: Kevin Feige
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård and Samuel L. Jackson
Marvel's The Avengers 3D
Rated PG-13 · 142 min. · 2012
User Rating:
Official Site: marvel.com/avengers_movie
Director: Joss Whedon
Writer: Zak Penn and Joss Whedon
Producer: Kevin Feige
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård and Samuel L. Jackson
Marvel's The Avengers: An IMAX 3D Experience
Rated PG-13 · 142 min. · 2012
Official Site: marvel.com/avengers_movie
Director: Joss Whedon
Writer: Zak Penn and Joss Whedon
Producer: Kevin Feige
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård and Samuel L. Jackson

Trailer


Now Playing

Sorry there are no upcoming showtimes for Marvel's The Avengers

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Film Review



Twitter Activity

Most Recent Comments

I am indeed very happy for my life; My name is Vargas Cynthia I never thought that I will live …

by Vargas Cynthia on Axis of Cinema (Film Review)

The lobster is arbitrarily asinine, disjointed, and gratuitously violent towards both humans and former humans that "didn't make it." If …

by Marco_Polo on The Lobster Surreally Skewers Society’s Fear of Single People (Film Review)

The only peeople who murdered those boys were let off by an inexperienced prosecutor and hoodwinked judge. The facts are …

by Greg 1 on The West Memphis Three are free ... what about the real killer? (Film Review)

"Miles Ahead"... "opening Friday".... where? I'm having a tough time finding film times/locations on www.indyweek.com now. The …

by Tbone on Don Cheadle’s Miles Davis Film, Miles Ahead, Isn’t a Real Biopic—It’s Something Better (Film Review)

Comments

I am indeed very happy for my life; My name is Vargas Cynthia I never thought that I will live …

by Vargas Cynthia on Axis of Cinema (Film Review)

The lobster is arbitrarily asinine, disjointed, and gratuitously violent towards both humans and former humans that "didn't make it." If …

by Marco_Polo on The Lobster Surreally Skewers Society’s Fear of Single People (Film Review)

Most Read

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…

© 2016 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation