But knowing the media machine, I also knew that for me to truly enjoy these films I would have to SEVERELY limit my access to all the "hype" behind ALL the films. And so, I stayed away. But, I watched Iron Man 1 & 2, both Hulk films (Norton was my favorite.), Captain America, and Thor. I watched and enjoyed, for the most part, all of them. And yet, with all the groundwork laid down, with all the evidence in front of me, I was still hesitant about The Avengers, and there was reason for it. But all my doubts were washed away within about a minute of the film starting. Within that minute, I knew that the movie was going to be nothing short of awesome. But you get all up in arms, my dear readers, I'm not going to spoil anything of the movie. I'm too much of a comic nerd to do that to you. However, that doesn't mean I can't discuss the film and I'm going to start with the director.
Joss Whedon is one of my favorite directors. I've seen almost everything he's done. But he was one of my hesitations in this movie because he has a track record of being overridden by the studio execs above him. (Anyone remember Firefly?) Few directors have the clout to retain creative control of the properties they handle. While I had no doubt that he would produce quality work, I was worried that his gem would get carved into a bland mess of quips, one-liners, and cheesy action. And I'm happy to say, I was DEAD WRONG on that. Whedon cut his teeth in television, which from what I hear, is MUCH harder to do than movies. And in most of the shows he's dealt with (Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse) , he built a world class ensemble cast. And that's what Avengers is at its core: an ENSEMBLE.
Watching the Avengers, I was treated to seeing genuine moments between people who are used to being the only "larger than life" person coming into contact with others at the same level and having to accommodate them in their life. Each one of the Avengers had their moment to shine, dealt with personal issues and evolution, and grew into their place on the team. Think about how difficult that is. To have no less than SIX DIFFERENT MAJOR CHARACTER STORY LINES woven together in a fashion that showcases each and every single one of them without detracting from the others. There are exceedingly few directors I can think of that pull that off while also working moments of genuine humor, pain, romance, and of course, action. And that's just the directing (and the writing. Joss Whedon wrote the film, too!)
Now, about the casting. Given the layout of the Marvel strategy, Whedon was stuck with some no name actors for the Avengers. Especially that Robert Downey Jr., whose ever heard of THAT guy?? But, they managed to pull it together. :-)
Seriously, though, the new idea of having quality actors in comic based movies really paid off with the Avengers. This cast was seriously top notch! At this point, RDJ just needs to stop messing around and legally change his name to Tony Stark. Chris Evans more than made up for his participation in the Fantastic 4 films with Captain America, Chris Hemsworth was believably god-like as Thor. At long last, Jeremy Renner is being given roles that fit his talent, and he showed it off as Hawkeye. Scarlett Johansson was simply DELICIOUS as Black Widow; slick, sexy, calculating. Everything that a sexy soviet spy should be! But the two roles that truly stuck out for me were Tom Hiddleston as Loki and Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner. Yeah that's right, I said it. I LOVED Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner.
Tom Hiddleston is completely different story. While I didn't like Thor as much as the other Marvel films (it felt too emotionally hollow for me), one of the parts I did like was Hiddleston's portrayal of Loki. He didn't really get much screen time in Thor, but more than made up for it in Avengers. There are very few actors that can portray a character with the complexity of Loki and be able to hold their own against EVERY SINGLE OTHER CAST MEMBER IN THE FILM. He was nothing short of astounding. Watching him on film, especially in the one-on-one scenes between Loki & Tony Stark and Loki & Black Widow, you could really tell Hiddleston was relishing the role. And it was so much fun to watch. I am definitely looking forward to seeing him expand the character in Thor 2.
Now, I'm not going to tell you that the Avengers is a complex, mindbending film, because it's not. That was never the point of the Avengers. What I can tell you is that the movie is a two and half hour thrill ride, full of humor, fighting, intensity, and emotion. If you're looking for a action-packed good time, then I wholeheartedly recommend The Avengers. This is a movie that I would actually PAY to see again. Have you seen the movie, my dear readers? If so, sound off in the comments below!