The existence of a major “kick-ass” theatrical movie based on Marvel Comics “Avengers” is almost as fantastical as the Avengers characters themselves, because for decades no one thought it was possible. Once upon a time people use to say that there are things you can do in a comic book, or cartoon, that just can’t be done in a live-action movie. The Avengers prove that statement is no longer valid. This movie is a dream come true for life long comic book fans such as myself, and it raises the bar and expectations of all future super hero films.
Another amazing aspect of The Avengers, is that it is the culmination of five previous movies that were intended to stand alone, as well as the lay the foundations for this movie. The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Iron Man II, Thor, and Captain America:The First Avenger which were all great comic book movies in their own right, add many layers of depth to The Avengers. That’s not to say that in order to enjoy The Avengers you need to have seen the films leading up to it, but if you did see them all then The Avengers experience is enriched ten-fold.
Although technically I suppose you could call it a sequel to each of the films that preceded it, I had been concerned that this movie might come across as a sequel to one particular hero; the movie might be considered “Iron Man 3″ or “Thor 2″ Fortunately The Avengers stands as its own first installment, and not a follow-up to a specific solo franchise. Each character receives time in the spotlight, and the diverse ensemble cast is well balanced. Not only does director Joss Whedon successfully juggle the many characters, but he skillfully blends action, comedy and drama into a popcorn muncher with heart and soul.
Each Avenger gets his or her moment to shine, however if any one character steals the show, it is unquestionably the Hulk. This is the third big screen appearance of Marvel’s not so jolly green giant, and Mark Ruffalo is the third actor to play the role of Dr. Bruce Banner. Initially I was upset that Edward Norton who starred in The Incredible Hulk, was not reprising his role for The Avengers. That being said, I really liked Mark Ruffalo as Dr. Banner and for the very first time the special effects team achieved the perfect look for the Hulk. Ruffalo’s performance and the “incredible” presence of his monstrous alter-ego combined to make this the definitive Hulk. In fact according to various entertainment sources, Ruffalo’s Hulk has been such a hit and highlight of The Avengers , that talks are back in the works for another solo Hulk adventure to possibly smash into theaters in 2015.
Now of course no movie is “perfect”, and I’m sure that fan boys especially will find some faults within the two plus hours of The Avengers. For me, my biggest gripe is with the obligatory” Hitchcock” style cameo of Marvel legend Stan Lee. The Godfather of comics pops up in nearly every Marvel adventure, and his few second cameos range from silly to brilliant. The Avengers is quintessentially the ultimate Marvel movie, but sadly Stan’s cameo seems like a lackluster afterthought. I would have rather preferred no cameo, instead of the disappointing appearance they squeezed in.
My other complaint might be the lack of any supporting characters from The Incredible Hulk, since he was such a scene stealer. It would have been nice to see William Hurt reprise his role as General Ross, and have some arguments with S.H.E.I.L.D. director Nick Fury played by Samuel Jackson. Maybe they are saving that for The Avengers 2.
On a final note, there is not one, but two after credit scenes so be sure to stay until the house lights come on. The first reveals whom the true mastermind was behind the story’s villainy. For diehard Marvel fans it will be a treat, but many may be left scratching their heads. The second scene is a classic example of Joss Whedon’s sense of humor. Nuff said!