“Hulk Smash…” What Comic Book Movies Used to Be [The Avengers Movie Review]

 The Avengers Movie Review

What began as a surprise in a post credits scene at the end of the first Iron Man movie in 2008, rolled into one of the most ambitious projects in Hollywood history – The Avengers Movie.  Now, it’s time for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to finally assemble to stop Loki and an army of alien invaders!

The Avengers Movie Review

Let me preface my review of Marvel’s The Avengers by stating three undeniable facts about myself.  First, I am a lifelong Avengers fan.  Second, I also enjoy anything that is or related to comic books.  Third, I am in no way a film critic (in fact, some might argue that I am in no way a comic book critic or reviewer, but I digress).  Those things being on the table right now, I have to review this movie based on my love of comic books and their movies, being a gigantoid Avengers fan, and how much I enjoy being entertained when I purchase a movie ticket.  If you are like me with any one of the three previously mentioned things, The Avengers will certainly pull through in spades.

I will be reviewing this movie in two sections.  First, a full spoiler-free review, and a second spoiler-tastic section.  Don’t worry, I will give you plenty of chance to turn away before we get to those spoilers.  But let’s get started on what the plot of this movie is…

Loki (Hiddleston) comes to Earth to get his evil on.

Loki, the “brother” of the Norse god of thunder, Thor, is a man on a mission.  After being cast out of Asgard, he has met up with the Chitauri, a race of aliens looking for conquest.  The deal is simple – Loki takes out Earth and he will be allowed to rule it and the Chitauri get their precious Tesseract back (it’s what we know as the Cosmic Cube).  After Loki is dispatched to our planet, he sets out on his quest to prepare Earth for the coming Chitauri invasion.  In the god of mischief’s way are the heroes that were originally gathered to be a part of Nick Fury’s Avengers Initiative.  Stop Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, and Loki gets to reap the rewards.

That is honestly as simplistic as I can make it without rolling into more detailed plot points that will lead to spoilers, but I can say that the plot, based on a story by Zak Penn and Joss Whedon, works quite well.  It’s not without some calculated risks.  Considering this is technically the sixth installment in a franchise, Marvel Studio banks the characterization and the general flow and pacing of the entire film on a simple idea – the five films that came prior to The Avengers performed well and, with that, a vast majority of the audience will have seen these movies before coming to this one.  It’s a good wager and it greatly helps this movie.  The majority didn’t need anymore exposition.  We were ready for this thing to happen.  Those making this their only first or second sitting for the six movies aren’t going to be too terribly lost.  The script keeps things base simple.  It’s like back when Star Wars movies were good.  You could come into Return of the Jedi without seeing either of the previous movies.  They stand as well on their own as they do together and that’s exactly what Marvel set out to do and that’s exactly what they pulled off.

More than just a pretty face, or a few badass poses, Black Widow (Johansson) kicks all kinds of butt in The Avengers.

Knowing Joss Whedon was going to be heavily involved with the story as well as directing the movie itself, I knew we’d get some snazzy wit that we’ve come to expect from him.  It’s part of what made Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly so charming which then turned them into cult phenomenons.  He definitely brings that with him and infuses it into a cast that seemed ripe for this sort of comedy.  What I didn’t expect was how absolutely funny this whole movie was.    If you watch the movie in a crowded theater as I did, you will find it hard to catch certain lines following a comedic moment because the crowd is laughing so hard.  It’s not just once or twice that you get a good belly laugh in the movie.  I counted at least eight times I was full on laughing at something that happened on screen.  Let’s just say that it’s a good thing that I’ve got two more showings to catch those lines I missed.

Another big surprise was the use of two of the supporting characters, Black Widow and Hawkeye.  It can be certainly be said that the incredibly lovely Scarlett Johansson gets more screen time than anyone could have guessed.  It was actually really cool how much she got to show off exactly why she’s such a big deal in the comics to begin with.  The character in and of herself, is extremely resourceful and, while you got to see that in a scene during Iron Man 2, you get a hell of a lot more of that in The Avengers.  Any female moviegoer worried she would be pushed to the side so the boys can have their fun should be quite proud and to see Whedon bring his signature strong female characterization with him to this project.  On the flip side of that, whatever you might have expected from Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye in this movie will change in the first five minutes.

The Hulk (CGI Ruffalo) finally gets to do all the smashing he should be allowed to – and steals the show.

The entire show is completely stolen by the Hulk.  Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner gets that job done well enough, even if most would still prefer Ed Norton to be there.  In fact, after a while I found myself accepting Ruffalo as Banner.  However, when the Hulk comes, all we’ve seen before in two previous Hulk movies is completely trashed.  This is a completely unbridled monster and most of the moments I let out an audible “Awesome” was thanks to ol’ Green Genes.

This doesn’t keep Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, or Chris Hemsworth on the sidelines, but instead enhances them.  They are the guys we’ve seen featured in four previous movies and they bring what we expect from them as well, but Johansson, Hulk, and Renner are surprisingly well used, if not totally expected from each of the characters.  Hell, even Tom Hiddleston ups his game as a much more evil Loki.  In Thor, he played the villain as a schemer, while here, he’s letting loose and just putting his evil in our faces.

In the end, as a comic fan and, even more so, an Avengers fan, this long wait from that surprise moment at the end of 2008′s Iron Man has paid off in ways I couldn’t have expected it.  As a fan of going to the theater and watching movies of all kinds, there’s hardly been one I’ve anticipated more or had more fun watching than The Avengers.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a DC or a Marvel, you will absolutely love this movie for how unabashed it is at being a big time action movie with laughs and utterly cool moments that you experience.

As far as I’m concerned, Marvel has proved that, beyond a doubt, it is the king of movie marketing and planning.  While I dare DC to try to do the same thing, I already know they won’t be able to match what Marvel Studios has done.  They have no hope of bringing Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and the rest of the Justice League together.  They can barely produce anything beyond Batman movies.  The ball is in their court, but try as they probably should, Marvel is going to win this battle every time.

And now for the spoiler-tastic section of the review.  Turn back now if you don’t want to read the next few paragraphs.  To give you chance to change your mind, here’s a picture of “The Catvengers”:

Spoilers ahead!

 

 

 

I’m not kidding…

 

 

 

Okay, you’re on your own now, bub…

 

 

 

If there was one thing I was waiting for the entire movie and didn’t get was the signature call for “Avengers Assemble!”  I kept waiting for it to come when the team “needed it the most”, but was surprised it never came.  I can’t tell you how many times the movie’s music swelled to what seemed to be the inevitable call to arms or that the action seemed to be pointing to that moment, but surprisingly enough, it didn’t happen.  But the more I thought about it, the less I was honestly upset that it didn’t happen.  It did take 2 years after the Avengers debuted in comics for Thor to finally say it and it just simply stuck.  Maybe the moment will come in the eventual sequel.

For a while you might wonder what the heck Hawkeye (Renner) is truly doing in this movie, but worry not, he plays a bigger part than you think.

This movie is absolutely a solid mix of the regular “616″ universe of the regular Marvel Comics and the Ultimate line that debuted ten years ago.  As amazing and larger than life these characters are, the movie still roots itself in as realistic a world as it can.  It’s not like Nolan’s Batman series as far as realism, but the idea that the Avengers wouldn’t just naturally assemble on their own or the idea that SHIELD would have a major part in pulling these characters together as more of a “militaristic” (term used as lightly as possible) first response team for tragedies makes sense.  Yeah, this isn’t truly the original team of Avengers, but it works.  That being said, having Loki pull the team together and manipulating them into a potential defeat is as classic as it can get (see Avengers vol. 1 #1 for proof), but the team up he has with the Chitauri is exactly who originally menaced the Ultimates when that version of the Avengers came along.  Don’t expect a Skrull like Chitauri though.  They are just the race of beings, but their race definitely has connections to the “Ultimate Skrulls” used in the original Ultimates storyline.

At first, I found myself a little frustrated with how Hawkeye was being used.  I found myself a few times thinking “boy they really swung for the fences to get Renner so is this really all they are going to do with him?”  However, as the story progressed it all came together.  I said earlier that Black Widow’s role is increased a great deal and how Hawkeye is used in Loki’s grand schemes helps get her story rolling and ultimately leads to her becoming a surprisingly major character which was pleasant opposite to my real expectations.

You will want to stick it out for all the credits as we’re given two Easter eggs.  The first comes directly after the graphic credits finish and before the scrolling ones begin.  The leader of the Chitauri that has been dealing with Loki is speaking to the thing that is revealed to be orchestrating everything.  Let’s just say this “Titan” of the Marvel Universe is two things – 1) the clear forerunner to be the big bad for a sequel and 2) is likely going on the search for a particular glove that should, at the very least, keep his right hand warm in the depths of space.  This might be the spoiler section of my review, but I’m not going to give that puppet master’s identity away.  I’ll let Wikipedia do it for you.  The second scene was actually recently filmed and puts a nice bow on these first round of movies with the same lighthearted tone as Whedon provided the rest of the movie.

A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING

Pros Cons
Incredibly fun and terrifically awesome. It’s honestly the movie I was hoping for and will likely change the face of comic book movies to come. None. Loved every second of this movie.
Rating
100%

The Avengers Movie


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5 Comments

  1. Without a doubt this was a crazy good movie. Pitch-perfect in every way. From the “Who can beat up who” hero fan-battles, to the way they used every piece of goodness from the other movies and built on it.

    As a DC guy, I have to say, Marvel is pretty much god of the movies at the moment. How badly must Warner be smarting for A) not doing a JLA movie when they had the chance and B) dropping Whedon from Wonder Woman?

    It’s funny how similar this story was to the opening JL arc of the new 52. Alien soldiers invade, heroes assemble but don’t get along, save the day. But this movie makes JL look so weak and anemic by comparison.

    What else can I say? Funniest, wildest, most eye-popping movie ever. Totally pays off the years of anticipation.

  2. Grizzleybruin says:

    I know i’m a little late to the party, but having been waiting for the student discount at my local AMC, i usually wait a couple a days for the crowds to die down so i can actually follow the plot and listen to what’s being said in the theaters.
    As much as i enjoyed the characters and their banter, i have to admit it left me a tad bit disappointed. . . . . maybe its because i went and saw it AFTER it was clear just how much of an opening it had, but i really got bored with the seemingly endless whack-a-mole strategy they used with the villains for that whole 30min long action scene . . .. .But most importantly, (SPOILERS) i didn’t like the way the end just came out of nowhere when the US govt launched a nuke on NY, which then Iron Man was able to take up INTO the portal, then destroy an armada which then just HAPPEN to bring every single Chithauri soldier / weapon down.

    Now, this might be the DC fanboy in me bitching, but last time a similar device was used, WIll smith’s Independence Day, we knew from the very beginning that all the alien ships were connected, and that by a) infecting the mother ship with a virus and b) launching a nuke at the defenseless mother ship everyone was going to fall like dominoes. But seeing as all that came up out of nowhere at the end of Avengers, i just remember thinking “oh, so i guess the fight’s over”.

    But as fun and awesome as all this was, i still think Iron Man 1 is my fav Marvel movie, while Serenity is my favorite Joss Whedon film. idk, maybe i’ll like it more on repeat viewings. But either way, great review Geoff.

  3. jamie insalaco says:

    Hi Geoff,

    I finally got around to Avengers and got my own review up today.

    I certainly wasn’t disappointed, but I think the 93 it got on Rotten Tomatoes might have put my expectations a little too high. Still, I thought it was great, I just didn’t think it was excellent. Also, from a movie standpoint, I don’t feel they’ve given us much about Hawkeye – at least Black Widow was in Iron Man 2, but ‘The Hawk’ was in Thor for about 5 minutes. At least they’ve given us hints about who Black Widow is, but I don’t feel we know anything about Hawkeye. This doesn’t ruin the movie for me, but if the movie started and people were thinking “Who’s that guy?” and “Where are my THOR and CAPTAIN AMERICA cliff notes?” I don’t blame them.

  4. Aaron says:

    Hey Geoff do you think that that “titan” might go looking for his hand-warming apparatus in Odin’s armory?

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I'm a lifelong geek. I don't hide it. I don't deny it. My true geek love is comics. I love reading them and discussing them. I am definitely much more a Marvel guy than DC, especially when it comes to my favorite, The Avengers. Questions? Comments? Email me at geoff@acomicbookblog.com