The PacingClocking in at nearly two and a half hours, making it the Marvel film with the longest run time so far, The Avengers could have felt like an extremely long film. Although the movie had a lot of characters to focus on and a lot of story to tell, its running time might have seemed excessive if the film's pacing hadn't been so well-defined. Without bogging itself down in exposition or clogging itself with an overuse of special effects, this film had a solid structure that kept the story going. It's to the credit of writer/director Joss Whedon that this epic film never seemed as long as it actually was.
The Visual EffectsIn a movie about superheroes trying to save the planet from a sociopath and his alien army, it was inevitable that The Avengers would use tons of special effects. But unlike lesser films, these special effects work to complement the story rather than detract from it. From Bruce Banner transforming into the Incredible Hulk, to the climactic battle sequence that finds the Avengers fighting against an alien armada, the special effects were imaginative and highly-effective. Director Joss Whedon is known for his supernatural stories (see Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Cabin in the Woods), but this new movie was in another league entirely, and Whedon lived up to the challenge.
The SurprisesWhat The Avengers offers - and other superhero movies often fail to - are surprises that keep the audience enthralled with the story. This new film offers up plenty of fun surprises that both fans and non-fans of the comic books can enjoy. Two of the best surprises in this film occurred after the credits started to roll. The first post-credits scene hinted at a future battle with Thanos, while the latter one - a secret scene filmed a few weeks ago - showed how tired the team was at the end of their adventure. Not all of the surprises were fun, though. Some of them were far more serious and even tragic (R.I.P. Agent Coulson). But these surprises helped keep audiences on the edge of their seats, wanting to know what happened next. (Thanos Artwork by Quintero ART)
The CharactersThe Avengers was always going to be a difficult movie to write. The screenwriter needed to please the fanboys and girls who have read the comic books, while also exciting non-fans who might not be interested in seeing a superhero movie. But it turns out that the geeky Joss Whedon was the perfect choice to write this film, along with the help of Zak Penn (X2). As Kofi Outlaw noted in his review, "Whedon is in tune with every single one of the superheroes (and villains) in Marvel’s stables, and knows how to arrange those personalities into a well-balanced ensemble like a perfectly assembled puzzle." Whedon's love for both the characters and the story was evident in The Avengers, and that affection helped bring these characters to life on the big screen.
The Convergence of the Plot ThreadsA capitalist egomaniac from contemporary America. A patriotic soldier from World War II. A demigod from another planet. Those are simply a few of the characters that come together to form the Avengers. It was never going to be easy to craft a story that brings such disparate personalities together to fight a common threat. Although this alliance was foreshadowed in many of the earlier Marvel movies, Whedon - like Agent Coulson in the film - had to bring them together. But Whedon's script did more than that. It tied the story together nicely and addressed some loose ends - and missing characters - from the previous films.
New Appreciation for Certain CharactersAlthough many of the Marvel superheroes were introduced in their own respective films, The Black Widow was only given a small introduction in Iron Man 2. But in The Avengers, her self-reliant character takes on a larger role, and actress Scarlett Johansson is up to the task as a butt-kicking and ferocious female super-spy. Whedon, who previously created another strong female character in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, has now showcased another powerful female who is as tough and agile as her male counterparts.
The Main CastYes, The Avengers is a group of six, but four of them have previously been introduced in their own films. While their roles are all limited in this group effort, each of them has a chance to build on their previously-established characters here. From Robert Downey's performance as the ever-lovable Tony Stark, to Chris Hemworth's performance as the ill-tempered Thor, The Avengers allows us the opportunity to catch up with these beloved characters and see them develop into greater heroes than they were before. The witty banter between these main characters allows the actors a chance to earn a few laughs, too, leading us to...
The HumorConsidering that the film is about a team of superheroes fighting an alien army, The Avengers is a surprisingly funny film. Although Tony Stark was always amusing, the other Marvel heroes are given a chance to shine, with a witty script that includes great one-liners and numerous references to the characters' odd backgrounds. From Captain America recognizing a Wizard of Oz reference, to Black Widow's comments about the climactic battle, the smart script uses levity and humor to keep the story humming even when the action has slowed down. A far cry from the more serious (too serious?) tone of Chris Nolan's Batman movies.
The Iconic MomentsAlthough I don't consider myself a comic book fan, it was nearly chill-inducing to see The Avengers standing together as one unit preparing for battle. These characters each have their own unique traits and powers - but as one unit, they came together to take on the biggest threat to our planet. And the film takes pleasure in showing them assembled as a team. Years from now, one of the things that will stand out about The Avengers is its iconic moments featuring all of these superheroes together. This is a movie that celebrates its purpose and gladly gives the fans what they want: a team of Marvel comic heroes battling together.
The ActionThe last thirty minutes of The Avengers is mostly one big action sequence with aliens invading, Avengers fighting, and New York being ravaged. But this sequence is so well directed and exciting that audiences will enjoy nearly every second of it. It is in this section of the film that Joss Whedon's direction truly stands out. His camera follows the action from one Avenger to the next, showing this battle sequence in all of its glory. It's truly a thrilling conclusion to a strong film and has kicked off the summer 2012 movie season with a bang.
The 10 Best Things about 'The Avengers'If you haven't seen The Avengers, it's definitely worth checking out on the big screen. Although I'm still more pumped about The Dark Knight Rises than I ever was about The Avengers, the latter proves to be a strong and film. Here, again, are the 10 best things about The Avengers:
- The Pace
- The Visual Effects
- The Surprises
- The Affection for the Characters
- The Ties that Bring the Story Together
- The Stand-Out
- The Main Cast
- The Comedy
- The Iconic Moments
- The Action