|By Dave Chapman|
Marvel Studios have had this knack of finding the perfect directors. Want the classical machinations that would make Shakespeare proud? Kenneth Branagh is obviously the first choice on the list. Want a cool, WWII action movie with kid-friendly wartime battles with its tongue firmly in cheek? Go for Joe Johnston, director of the awesome The Rocketeer.
The Avengers is no exception. Knowing that the movie would feature a lot of characters who would each need to play to their strengths and work as a team, you hire the perfect writer/director for an ensemble piece – Joss Whedon. After all, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Firefly are all about large groups of heroes, and Whedon is the master of giving them all witty dialog and a chance for each to shine.
With a screenplay by Joss Whedon, based on a story by Whedon and Zack Penn, The Avengers gives each of these strong characters a chance to develop, show off their strengths and progress their stories just a little while never forgetting the plot.
But, just what is the plot of the movie?
Okay, here’s where it may get a little spoilery, but I’ll try to keep it fairly simple and not give away too much.
At the end of Thor, Loki (Thor’s evil and manipulative brother) was seen tumbling off into space, while the end of Captain America: The First Avenger we’d witnessed the Red Skull using the Cosmic Cube, also known as the Tesseract, to fuel powerful weaponry, though the Cube was lost only to be recovered by Howard Stark. As seen at the end of Captain America in the “monk’s reward”, SHIELD has the Tesseract and had recruited Professor Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) to unlock its secrets.
Obviously, Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) has most of the best lines and some of the coolest action, but he doesn’t dominate. After a slightly clunky opening sequence that initially had me worried, the moment Stark makes an appearance, and his quick dialog with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) you really see Whedon’s strong-point start to shine through.
Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) may be a little short-changed with the witty one-liners, but he manages to hold his own in the action, and the seeds have been sown for some developments in the inevitable Cap sequel.
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is as cool as ever, and his sequences with The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo being motion-captured while being the big green rage machine) are awesome. Though it does make you wonder if these characters are too powerful? That said, Ruffalo does an excellent job as the newcomer to the group. While it would have been fantastic if the ever brilliant Edward Norton could have reprised his role, Mark Ruffalo’s portrayal of Banner’s inner turmoil and sadness will win you over very quickly.
It’s not a perfect film. You really cannot come into this film without some knowledge of the characters from the previous films at least.