Saturday, 28 April 2012

Avengers (Film Review)

There’s only one thing which really needs to be said about this film –it’s the best superhero blockbuster to date. Having seen this I can die a happy man.
The Avengers is effectively a culmination of many of the Marvel films to date, starting with Iron Man and finishing with Captain America but not including the X-Men or Ghostrider films. Having been years in the making it was well worth the wait and in terms of enjoyment, quality and action it completely destroys Battleship without any effort.
The story is actually very simple for a film of this magnitude. Having been last seen falling into a void at the end of Thor, the asgardian Loki arrives on earth without warning and manages to single handily destroy S.H.I.E.L.D.’s headquarters. Displaying new powers and having forged a pact with an unknown force, Loki steals the cosmic cube tesseract device from the Captain America film, planning to use it to bring a powerful army through to conquer earth. Remove its superhero aspects and this film is effectively an alien invasion plot, but what makes it stand out is its build-up and development.
In every prior connecting film we’ve had growing hints to what is going to happen here from small scale things such as Nick Fury turning up at the end of Iron Man to Avengers’ MacGuffin being plot device in Captain America. Whoever planned out these films clearly took their time with throwing out occasional hints of a much bigger picture making it clear to audiences something important was to soon happen, and in many respects that is what happens in Avengers itself.
Rather than just having Loki’s army arrive during the first act, there is clear escalation throughout the film with the battle scenes getting bigger and the stakes getting higher to build tension. The best example of this is actually not the villain but one of the heroes, Bruce Banner. From his very first scene the film builds up this tension about what will happen if the Hulk is let loose and people carefully tip-toeing around him, with the performance of Mark Ruffalo giving undertones of having to constantly try and remain in control. This makes the Hulk’s first appearance at the half-way point have much more gravity and generates far more interest.
Speaking of the characters, the film manages to get each of them spot on. With each instalment having been helmed under a different director using very different styles of presentation there was a big risk Avengers wouldn’t be able to properly characterise them. Instead each hero acts exactly as they did in their previous film, in no one scene doing something which makes you think “no, they’d never do that.” In the few cases a character does behave differently it’s due to having not seen their true character until now or a significant change in setting, the keymost examples being Loki and Fury.
In Loki’s case he spent most of Thor acting under a façade of being a very different person, so what we see now is effectively his true self. Furthermore actor tom Hiddleston noted that he has experienced things since Thor which brought about changes within him - "I think the Loki we see in The Avengers is further advanced. You have to ask yourself the question: how pleasant an experience is it disappearing into a wormhole that has been created by some kind of super nuclear explosion of his own making? So I think by the time Loki shows up in The Avengers he's seen a few things."
In the case of Nick Fury, we’ve only seen him briefly in the past usually trying to recruit the superheroes to his cause. In Avengers we see him in command for the first time, having to deal with the politics of S.H.I.E.L.D. and displaying a much darker, manipulative streak than before, especially when facing desperate odds.
What really helps the characterisation, even when egos are clashing and skyscraper destroying battles are taking place, is the humour. It’s never out of place and even when it turns up in the middle of tense scenes it only enhances the viewing experience rather than ruining it in some way. You can have Thor and the Hulk fighting atop the bastard child of a Lord of Winter, completely trouncing every foe around them – then something genuinely funny will happen to keep it from turning into a grim faced, overly serious bore of a film.
Even though the Avengers lacks some of the depth seen in other popular superhero productions, namely Christopher Nolan’s Batman films, there’s only one criticism worth giving – this film is for the fans. To truly enjoy it to its fullest extent it is intended for you to have watched the majority of the Marvel films, Iron Man 2, Thor and Captain America, to truly get what is going on. Even then that is part of Avengers’ appeal and helps to emphasise upon the scale of its events, showing how comic continuity can translate to the big screen.
So, Great characters? Check.
Every person gets a chance to shine? Check.
Brilliant action pieces? Check.
A well written script? Check.
Excellent pacing? Check.
Lives up to the hype? Absolutely.
Sets the standard for the summer blockbusters, is one of the best superhero films of the decade and is a must see while it’s on the big screen? Without a single doubt.
Go watch it while you still can.


The Avengers and all related characters and media are owned by Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Studios and Motion Pictures.


  1. So is the final movie title "The Avengers" or "Avengers Assemble"? I hope for their sake not the second one ..

    1. It depends which country you're living in. The film itself is advertised as The Avengers in most places but in others it keeps being called Avengers Assemble for some reason.

      It seems to be a running problem with Marvel's films, as Captain America was just called "The First Avenger" in a few places.