Note: Spoilers assemble…
A Shakespearean God from the realm of Asgard blasts his way through a top-secret facility, using an oddly shaped sceptre to brain-warp those he decides will be of some use in his scheming plans, and steals a bright blue cube of immense energy and power. This bright blue cube of immense energy and power will destroy our entire world if utilised in the incorrect fashion, and that’s all you really need to know in order to enjoy this film, which, for a movie with a running time of over two hours, is remarkably fresh and breezy.
The god in question is Loki (Tom Hiddleston), primary antagonist from last year’s comic-caper Thor, one of several antecedents for the combined delight that is The Avengers (or if you’ll humour me, Marvel’s Avengers Assemble). It all began in 2008 when Robert Downey Jr’s revitalised career mirrored the start of something new, something exciting. The result is a well-tuned, well-acted, exceptionally-scripted blockbuster that has issued a strong, robust, and loud message, not just to its flocking audiences, but to a certain Chris Nolan: “Your move, Mr. Wayne…”
The task of bringing the outlandish egos of Iron Man (Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), and The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) together to form one cohesive narrative has fallen kindly at the feet of cult-hero (and god) Joss Whedon. You’ll have to forgive me at this point; I grew up on a healthy diet of American pop culture, of which Whedon’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer was a strong contributor, and to this day, I would gladly give up my first born child for this man. I try to avoid inane bias in my reviews, but sometimes there is too great a force, and this is one such occasion. I shall reliably inform you that the man is a genius. An underrated, relentless, wit-tastic genius.
That being said, this movie should not work. It just shouldn’t. There is so much going on at any one moment in time that it’s very hard to comprehend what one character just said before you’re whisked away on another matter. Take the scene aboard the heli-boat-copter for instance; they’re trying to figure Loki out, what he wants, what he plans to do etc, then all of a sudden, we’re thrust into a brand new world where S.H.I.E.L.D, led by the one-eyed Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), are suddenly the enemies, planning on utilising that bright blue cube of immense energy and power in their favour by constructing weapons of mass destruction. However, Fury isn’t exactly up to date on this plan. I know – confusing, right? It’s a comic book film in every sense, and it’s superior to every other comic book film that has taken to our screens (I don’t include The Dark Knight in this instance as it transcends the genre) and if you don’t walk into the screening with your disbelief well and truly suspended…then what’s the point, may I ask?
Don’t compare this film to The Dark Knight Rises – it’ll be like comparing American Beauty to Pan’s Labyrinth – because these are two differently dexterous directors who have engaged in two differently dexterous styles of film. With The Avengers, you will have fun; sublime fun. There are a lot of explosions, but the on-screen action is directed with aplomb and swiftness – Whedon never forgets his constraints on time and space, and is able to move our attention to where it truly matters, delivering one hell of a final act that is brash, loud, and utterly brilliant.
I could talk forever about the script, which is full to the brim with witty one-liners and dripping with banterous dialogue. Fans of Whedon will know how strong a writer he is, and his style has not been diluted by the money-starved executives behind the scenes. The film is really quite hilarious, and one of the only negatives I could come up with for the film is that you may occasionally struggle to hear the dialogue through the raucous laughter sounding out around you.
Take a film like Inception – I know I said not to compare to Nolan, but I’m not comparing styles – it doesn’t utilise all its characters, it fits them into the story well enough, but we never get a true sense of who they are. Why on earth is Ariadne helping out Cobb? What does she stand to gain? Eames? Is he in it for the money? The Avengers’ main strength is its character moments, even the smallest nuance of a smile or gesture – it gets it absolutely spot on, and is what makes the film so enjoyable. A film about characters that will never exist in our world suddenly become so relatable, so easy to connect with, that we root for them to the very end, part with our well-earned money, and eagerly anticipate the inevitable sequel.
I can’t stress enough how good this movie is; for fans of Joss Whedon’s existing works, I’d be stunned if you hadn’t already seen it, and for those who have little idea of who he is, get ready to have your minds completely, whole-heartedly, unequivocally…blown.