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Marvel’s The Avengers! A Fanboy Review

May 1, 2012

Will The Avengers  satisfy your summer entertainment need for action, drama, superheroes, mythology, aliens, science fiction, tragedy, futurist technology, and comedy?  Yes.

It is a difficult thing, to sit down and review the AvengersDirector Joss Whedon is like my surrogate father who wrote really good chick lit-style TV, and I’ve collected the Avengers comic ever since the mansion was overrun by The Masters of Evil in 1986, so it’s hard to distance my self from fanboy worship.  But, I’ll try.

Looking at the Avengers critically, I can say that if this a reflection of what to expect at theaters this summer, then this is going to be a really fun summer!  This film was full of larger than life characters taking on extinction level events with their bare knuckle violence.

From a directorial standpoint Whedon provided all the thrills requisite of a summer blockbuster, and of a grouping of characters such as these.  At some point in the film every character ends up punching  every other character in the face, which is traditional when super heroes meet each other for the first time.  The windscreen violence was truly an edge of your seat experience.  Whedon has a tendency in a fight sequence to really put the audience right in the midst of it all.  It feels like you are on a flight simulator, the way that a subject will go right, but the camera will go left and grab hold of a new subject who will then tow the audience along for another bout of excitement.  You can see how the space cowboy antics of Firefly and Serenity helped prepare Whedon for the aerial acrobatics of the Avengers in the streets of New York.

The nervous comedy-in-the-face-of-pending-apocalypse, which Whedon perfected over the course of seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is wonderfully present in the Avengers. For example this moment below rang true as Joss Whedon Comedy.  (Anything in red is spoiler-ish.  It’s already pretty public, but I don’t want to ruin anyone’s movie experience.)

Thor angrily defends his brother Loki to Natasha Romanoff, “He’s my brother!”

“He killed 80 people in 2 days” states Natasha.

“He’s adopted…”

The script had a few holes that needed filling by the other films that came before: Thor, Captain America, The Hulk, and Iron Man 1 and 2.  The Avengers is good as a stand-alone film, but the other films definitely enhance the grand film experience.

I present exhibits A, B, and C - established alien races for the Avengers to kick the crap out of.

LOKI!

The villains, an alien race known as the Chitauri, want to use the tesseract from the Captain America film to open a doorway to Earth and for unexplained reasons destroy and subjugate mankind.  Their advance emissary is Thor’s brother Loki.  Loki provides continuity in the films, but the alien race was a little too random for my taste.  They have appeared in the primary source material, the Ultimates Vol. 1, but I would have enjoyed an alien race more established from the Marvel universe, such as the shape shifting Skrulls, the militant Kree, or the bird like Shi’ar to name a few.  I understand the choice as a writer to want to work with a new villain, to distance the story from too many expectations…  but when working with a property like the Avengers, which has nearly 50 years of back-story OF COURSE THERE ARE EXPECTATIONS.  In the comic, the Chitauri were shape shifters like the Skrulls and had been subtly manipulating Earth governments since World War II.  The film Chitauri are simply portrayed as an other-dimensional/ alien warrior race with no real purpose other than to destroy.  I think the idea of infiltration over the course of 60 years is more terrifying.  There were more interesting possibilities here than what the film offered.

This was a terrific summer blockbuster.  It had me cheering, laughing, and gasping.  It was a super film, but with the success of The Avengers, and yes it is already a success, I wonder what other super group movies we can expect on the horizon?  The Justice League?  The Defenders?  SpiderMan and his Amazing Friends?

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