MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Marvel’s The Avengers’ (No Spoilers)

Marvel’s The Avengers

Walt Disney Pictures / Paramount Pictures / Marvel Studios

Written & Directed by Joss Whedon
Story by Zak Penn and Joss Whedon

Starring Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America), Robert Downey Jr. (Tony Stark/Iron Man), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Mark Ruffalo (Dr. Bruce Banner/The Hulk), Scarlett Johansson (Natasha Romanov/Black Widow), Jeremy Renner (Clint Barton/Hawkeye), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury), Clark Gregg (Agent Phil Coulson), Cobie Smulders (Agent Maria Hill), Stellan Skarsgard (Dr. Erik Selvig), & Gwyneth Paltrow (Pepper Potts)

 

“I’m here to talk to you about the Avenger Initiative.”

Four years ago that line of dialogue, uttered by Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, ended the bonus scene at the end of the credits for Iron Man, the first of the films produced by Marvel Studios. It was a fun line, one that hinted at possible things to come, but also shocking in its audaciousness. Sure it was fun to think about what it would be like to see The Avengers on the big screen, but surely such a thing would never come to pass, right? But then Marvel Studios brought us The Incredible Hulk and then Thor and then Captain America: The First Avenger. (Not to mention Iron Man 2. Then again, it might be best not to mention it.) They were all films which, to varying degrees, were of high quality and did well at the box office. And each film laid the ground work that got us closer and closer to the previously unfathomable.

And now with Marvel’s The Avengers, the promise of that line of dialogue has been fulfilled.

Marvel Studios’ latest film is, without a doubt, their most anticipated. It is also their best. The most amazing thing about Marvel’s The Avengers isn’t that it’s such a great film, it’s that it’s such a great film in spite of, well, everything. This is a movie with so much stacked against it. The weight of expectations. The weight of a large cast full of leading actors. The weight of a director whose previous directing effort was less than satisfactory.

So many things could have gone wrong with Marvel’s The Avengers and yet just about everything went right.

The praise for this film isn’t just about the joy of seeing one’s favorite Marvel characters together on-screen—though the first time you see Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor all together I said, “Holy shit” to myself. This is about a big time summer action film of the highest quality and all the credit in the world goes to writer/director Joss Whedon.

What Whedon has done with Marvel’s The Avengers is put together an action adventure film that is perfectly paced and structured. The action unfolds at an unrelentingly breakneck speed but it never feels overwhelming because the audience is having such a great time. The pace and structure of a film might seem like an unusual thing to focus on but here it’s really striking just how well Whedon crafted this film. We’re talking about a film who principal cast includes Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Nick Fury, Agent Maria Hill, Agent Phil Colson, and Loki. And that’s just the principals. That’s a lot of major characters being played by major actors and yet no one overwhelms and no one gets shortchanged. You don’t walk out of the movie thinking that [insert character] got the shaft in screen time. Everyone gets the spotlight. Everyone gets a character arc. Everyone gets at least one badass moment. The film is so incredibly well balanced, it’s kind of astounding.

As one might expect from Joss Whedon, Marvel’s The Avengers is really funny. In fact, it’s the funniest of the Marvel Studios films to-date and that really helps a film that’s so briskly paced and action packed. But it’s not all fun and games. Marvel’s The Avengers is also a film with a lot of heart (and maybe a little heartbreak). With a run time of almost two and a half hours not only does it never feel long, but once I realized that it was wrapping up I genuinely got upset. I was having so much fun that I never wanted it to end. This is a major leap forward for Joss Whedon, who has to be considered a big time film director now.

While Marvel’s The Avengers might be Whedon’s coming out party as a film director, anyone who has seen his work in the past knows that he’s a terrific writer and that continues here. Whedon weaves together a tale that incorporates the current continuity from the Marvel Studios films while also paying tribute to first Avengers stories from the regular Marvel Universe and the Ultimate Universe. If you’ve seen any of the trailers, you know the deal. As in 1963 when they first appeared, here the disparate and bickering heroes must come together to fight Loki, who has returned from the cosmic exile he was sent to at the end of Thor. He is not alone, however. In his quest to rule Earth as he briefly did Asgard, he needs the Tesseract (or as we know it, and as the press materials refer to it, the Cosmic Cube) so that he can bring an army to Earth to wreck havoc and subjugate the populace. Nick Fury knows that the only way to save the day is to bring Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, and The Hulk together with his S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives Black Widow and Hawkeye to form The Avengers.

It’s hard to pick standout characters in the film because as I said before everyone stands out. Instead it might be more prudent to focus on the most improved and the new characters. Quite simply, this is the best representation of The Hulk in any film to date. If you are a Hulk fan who has not been happy with the previous Hulk films, it’s hard to imagine you won’t be thrilled after seeing him here. Going into Marvel’s The Avengers, Hawkeye was probably the biggest question mark because outside of a brief cameo in Thor, there wasn’t much to go on. He is fleshed out nicely, and while he may not be the Clint Barton from the comic books, he’s a Clint Barton that is a lot of fun on screen. A bit of a cypher in her small supporting role in Iron Man 2, here Black Widow thrives, which is  probably no surprise considering that one of Joss Whedon’s strengths is strong and interesting female characters. In some ways, the cold and distant super spy is the emotional core of The Avengers.

It’s quite easy to slather on the praise for this film. It’s much harder to find its faults. The previous Marvel Studios films have all been fun and entertaining, and some have even been great, but they have not been without fault. Marvel’s The Avengers is pretty much a big time summer action film without fault. If I had to stretch to find anything wrong with the film it would be that we don’t know a lot about the army invading Earth. But then we don’t need to know anything more than that they are invading Earth. We just know that they need to be stopped.

Marvel’s The Avengers is just so much fun. It’s exciting and funny and action-packed and blows just about every other superhero action movie out of the water. If you think you’ve seen great action sequences in superhero films, you ‘ain’t seen nothing yet. The climax of the film is a giant battle sequence in the heart of New York City and it must last at least a half an hour and it is breathtaking. There’s a point in the battle when the team finally comes together as one and they truly become The Avengers, and when you realize that four years and five films were all leading up to this one specific moment that is when Marvel’s The Avengers becomes truly spectacular.

(Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that yes, there is a bonus scene. But it’s not a post-credits scene, it’s a mid-credits scene, occurring between the fancy end credits sequence and the standard rolling credits. And it’s awesome, though not entirely surprising if you’ve been paying attention. Still, it’s awesome. And it leaves no doubt as to who The Avengers will have to go up against in the, hopefully, inevitable sequel. There was no scene at the end of the credits at the screening I attended, but rumors persist that one was added right before release.)

5 Stars

(Out of 5)

(This review is spoiler-free and keep the comments that way too. Any comments with spoilers will be deleted. For a full-on spoiler filled review of Marvel’s The Avengers, stay tuned for a Special Edition Podcast when the movie officially comes out in North America.)

Comments

  1. I’m gonna hold my comments until the podcast, but I completely agreed with this review.

  2. It’s the Avengers movie I wanted. Absolutely tremendous. Huge props to Joss for pulling this off. A truly epic blockbuster action film.

  3. This review has made me want to see the movie again, And I’ve seen it twice already. Without a doubt, its the best SUPERHERO movie to date, not just the best Marvel release. The Dark Knight comes close, but based on sheer fun, Avengers tops the action/adventure genre for me where films are concerned. Personally, I think Downey stole the show, but I agree that the Hulk was fantastic as well. Perfect blend of humor, tragedy, action, and brilliant acting from the main cast, coupled with unbelievable special effects…

  4. @ Conor. “The weight of a director whose previous directing effort was less than satisfactory.” …to you. You are hilarious. Consensus from critics: good.
    Consensus from viewers: good.
    apparently that = less than satisfactory.

    You didn’t like it. Great. But why are you acting like it’s universally accepted that Serenity is rated as “terrible” and “less than satisfactory”?

    Avengers. 5 stars. Hell yeah.

    • I think he was just stating his own personal opinion, not a sweeping generalization.

    • Serenity also wasn’t a huge financial success. That may have been what he is referring to

    • I’ve really enjoyed almost everything that Whedon has done in comics, tv and film. If this movie had been a bomb I would have blamed it all on meddling execs. If successful I will give most of the credit to Whedon. It sounds to me like they had the climatic ending ready to go and brought Whedon in to give us satisfying character development, interactions and dialogue. Since we already know who’s going to win, it makes sense to bring somebody in who can give us a connection to the characters in the fight.

  5. What a triumph this movie is. I still can’t shake the fun I had watching it. Only bad thing about it is that now I feel even more testy about Amazing Spider-man, even DKR to an extent. 4 years of waiting & speculating & faith rewarding with each effort that Marvel provided on the way to Avengers & now we have our crowning achievement. This didn’t beat The Dark Knight for me in terms of best superhero film ever made, but dammit if it wasn’t close by a hair at most! All I can say is In Whedon We Trust & In Whedon Our Trust Is Rewarded! : )

  6. Yeah, 5 stars. Absolutely

  7. I’m extremely glad to see that you gave it 5 stars. The trailers had me worried.

  8. im so excited

  9. Worth the wait. While it might–might– not be the best movie I have ever seen staring super heroes it is by far the BEST super hero movie I have ever seen! My inner 10 year old is going crazy! Oh, who am I kidding? My inner 36 year old is going crazy too! And put the rumors to rest. There is a scene at the very end of the credits too. Nothing like the mid-credits one, but a bit of fun.

    • Aw maaaaan, there wasn’t a post credits scene when I saw it on Thursday (I saw it again last night but didn’t stick around until the very end.)

      I looked up what it was though, sounds pretty fun. Maybe I’ll catch it on the blu-ray.

  10. Music to my ears Friday cant get here fast enough.

  11. Total five stars. The last half hour has as much spectacle as a Transformers movie but you’re able to follow where they are, what they’re doing, and why.
    Saw it a second time yesterday and after the dazzle of first seeing it fades, you realize just how important Scarlett Johansen’s Black Widow is to the film. Along with how shoehorning in Wasp and Hank Pym on the team would have worked against this film,

  12. A deserved 5 star review. I’m sure we’ve all had wild dreams about an Avengers movie, especially after it was officially announced, but the realization that what you imagined in your head could actually be surpassed in reality is mind-boggling to me. That’s exactly what this movie did to me, it surpassed what I as a fanboy could possibly have imagined. And when I looked around the theater I saw all sorts of people very different from me and at multiple points in the movie they exclaimed aloud or laughed or even cheered at what they were marvelling at on the screen.

  13. I had an incredible time with this movie. It’s kind of a gold standard for action blockbusters. The only faults I can manage to come up with are mere nitpicks.

  14. I loved it. 4.5/5 for me. I disliked the villians in the movie and some of the superhero cliches. I thought that the while the plot may not have been the film’s strong suit, the dialog totally made up for it. You could definitly tell that this film had a Whedon influence, but it was unlike anything else he’s ever done. His voice really came through Tony Stark. If only he could write Iron Man 3…….

  15. I saw the film at a preview in Boston last night and there was a scene after the credits. Hang around, it’s well worth it.

    Totally agree with Conor’s review. The movie exceeded my expectations. Kudos to Joss and all involved.

  16. I am so rooting for this movie to be the big one for the summer, as much as I like christopher nolan’s batman I really want a solid win for a superhero movie that doesn’t need to be dark and gritty.

  17. this is not a spoiler but it sucks in a way john carter couldnt make avengers money from what im reading avengers is making a lot of money, ill wait until friday for the podcast

  18. I’ve only seen Captain America and Iron Man. Do i need to see the incredible hulk and thor to be able to enjoy the movie or what? Because my icy disinterest has finally thawed and starting to boil a little bit. So what do you say?

    • Nope. Do you know who Thor, Loki, and The Hulk are in the general sense? If so, you’ll be fine. You’ll probably be fine anyway, even if you didn’t.

    • While you don’t need to have seen Hulk, I would see Thor. You don’t have to but since the main bad guy is directly from that movie it isn’t a bad idea.

    • You don’t need to have seen either, but seeing Thor might help your appreciation of Avengers. Definitely not essential though.

    • OH MY GOD ONE OF THE IFANBOY TRIO HAS GIVEN ME A COMMENT!!! Sorry i couldn’t help but geek out a little. Yeah i know who the characters are and stuff i have read some thor in the past so i know the characters and stuff. Actually i know em all by heart. I was just worried that this movie was going to have some complex continuity or something to it. Thanks guys.

  19. Saw this movie last night and loved it. So much so that I plan on going again next week. Does anyone have an opinion on the 3D? I saw it in 3D but not IMax and I’m not sure what I want to do for the 2nd viewing. Should I see it in IMAX and 3d? Or should I just see it in normal 2d?

    I thought it looked pretty good in 3D normal size screen. Although my eyes did get a little tired near the end. I’m thinking that IMAX 3D could be cool though. Don’t know. Thoughts?

    • I saw it in IMAX 3D and thought it was terrific, the 3D was good and not really distracting as it has been in some other films. If I see it again I may try 2D though just to see if that made a huge difference or not.
      And it’ll be cheaper.

    • Gonna see it a second time on Sunday. I swore off 3D after Thor, but maybe I’ll check it out.

    • I saw it in 3-D and I did not like it. The separations made it look cartoony.The Spider-man trailer looked really good in 3-D. I think the cameras they use makes a difference. Amazing Spider-man is using RED cameras and the way Spider-man swings in the backgrounds looks seamless. My recommendation is watch it in 2-D first.

    • most of the movie the 3d didn’t really help anything, but i thought it was cool during the final battle. the best part of the 3d was the 3d trailer for spider-man which looked awesome.

  20. Mexico loves The Avengers. Thank you Joss Whedon.

  21. According to Comicbookmovie.com, there’s second post credit scene included in the movie that wasn’t shown before.

  22. i’ve never been so jealous of australia as i have been the last couple of weeks. i took friday off of work just so i can stay out late watching the first screening of the avengers at our local theater. I CANNOT WAIT!!!

  23. Saw it last night in a Pittsburgh advance screening. I couldn’t agree more with the review! It was amazing! It was the best Superhero action I’ve ever seen on screen. Whedon brings the comicbook to life, its really great!

  24. The thing I like most about this movie (even though I haven’t seen it yet) is how it seems to be bringing the comic community together in near-universal praise for this movie. Scott Snyder recently tweeted that people ask him if he’s avoiding Avengers because it’s Marvel, and he pretty much said no way, that it’s great for comics as a whole. Between this, The Dark Knight Rises, and Amazing Spider-Man, this summer should prove to be stellar. I only started reading comics 2 years ago, but members of this site and the comics community have so much love for the medium, and it’s brilliantly infectious. Great review, Conor.

  25. Man. This was an awesome movie. 5 stars indeed.

  26. Great movie review Conor. Thanks to this review I’m going to see the movie a 3rd time on Friday. Then a 4th time in IMAX on Sunday. 5 stars all the way. My new #1 Comic book movie.

    Avengers Assemble!

  27. It’s a good film but 5 star good? nope

    • good analysis

    • So yeah, I liked it (opened in Mexico last Friday, I was in the Midnight screening). It’s a great movie up there with X2 and Spiderman 2 (to place it in Marvel Films), i’ts THAT good.

      Best Part for me: Maria Hill, I so want a S.H.I.E.L.D. movie. Without NIck Fury (worst part for me).

  28. This review has simply made me more anxious to see the midnight premier at my local theater. As the build up for this movie has been long and coming, now the dawn of the official premier is around the corner.
    I remember getting chills down my back when me and my friends saw the first Iron Man movie, at the exact moment when Nick Fury presented himself after the credits. All my friends had bombarded me with questions about who was that character that Samuel Jackson was playing, and what his appearance entailed.
    It’s kind of hard to image that it was four years ago since then. The wait may have been long, but i’m sure it is gonna be well worth it.

  29. Ok. Now I’m pumped.

  30. Just saw it. Liked it but would go more 4 out of 5 stars. A few slow moments and Ruffalo is no Ed Norton. Otherwise, a lot of fun.

    • I felt Ruffalo was better then Ed Norton but i do agree it’s a 4. It’s silly fun but that’s most of it. It doesn’t really do much more then what it promised unlike superior superhero movies like X-Men: First Class, the Nolan-Batman movies and Spider-Man 2.

      I might also say that i feel that we were a bit cheated out of Hank Pym and Wasp. I still feel they could’ve easily been put in movie instead of Hawkeye and Black Window (who i also felt didn’t get to do most other then being the badass). What i mean is, i was hoping their roles would be bigger or at least as big as the main 4.

      Also the plot was kinda stupid, in a Transfomers kinda of way. I hope the second movie does a better job (and judging by the mid-credit it probably will be). But still, i will admit that this was the most fun I’ve had in the movies in awhile but no 5 for me. I’m gonna reserve it for the second movie.

  31. Oh, and Connor’s right, the bonus scene is awesome.

  32. I was hoping red skull would show up in this movie but it still sounds like a sweet movie and can not wait too see it fri…..then sat too! ha 🙂

  33. 4 out of 5 stars.

    Criticisms: the heroes at odds stuff in the first half was tired, the plan of Loki is rather simple but is the subject of so much exposition it becomes mind numbing, and I think some of the leads were shorted in screen time/plot significance… I hear there’s a lot of deleted scenes? I love Whedon’s stuff, but until that final act in NYC, the film does play like it’s on sound stages, lacking scope.

    Love: the character moments that are in here are great, with some memorable one liners. I agree that Black Widow gets quite a bit more to work with compared to her thankless role in Iron Man 2. The interactions between Avengers in that third act are a pure joy to watch, and makes me forgive a lot of the problems in the first act.

    Popcorn action spectacle of the best kind, but not a perfect film by any means. I still think IRON MAN and maybe even CAPTAIN AMERICA are better films, though I won’t argue- AVENGERS is fun.

    • I’d say the heroes at odds stuff was tired for comic books, but new for the movies (a couple of the fights, I won’t spoil what they are for people, are so great.) I do agree a couple of the main people were a little short-changed, although they got the odd cool moment. I hear a lot of the deleted stuff it to do with Cap adjusting to the world around him, which I’m very interested in seeing.

    • Not sure if we can mention spoilers in here yet, so let me tread carefully. The reason for the hereoes at odds, even knowing what’s happening the second time viewing it, still seems akwardly staged/communicated to the audience. Maybe it’s supposed to be a big reveal that all their bravado/clashing is happening… for a specific reason…

      I did like the initial meeting of the Big Three… classic misunderstanding/punch now talk later clash, very fun to watch… but something just seems off about the later conference room/lab meetings/arguments…

  34. I’m really glad the US iFanbase is finally getting to see this – it’s worth the wait folks, you’ll see!

  35. It is utterly brilliant! As I said on Twitter, epic doesn’t do it justice!

    I say thee YAY!

  36. saw it last night. Awesome! Puny God haha

  37. Does anybody think this would be inappropriate for a 4 year old to watch? I know it’s PG-13, and I’ve seen it, but I honestly can’t think of any scene that would be terribly inappropriate for a young child watching this with his parents.

    • That’s actually one of the smart things about the movie. It wasn’t until it was over that I realized there was no gratuitous sex scenes or sweating (that I recall). And that means more parents might bring their kids…which means more money.

      Great move from a marketing standpoint.

    • I do not see any issue with a four year old seeing this movie. Think there was one or two swear words, nothing sexual that is obviious, jsut a lot of fighting.

  38. Well I can’t believe there are that many glowing reviews for this film! I have not seen it yet and it will be out at midnight tonite in some areas, unfortunatly I have to work in the morning and I can’t do the sleep early get up go and then straight to work routine. I am just no good at that and then Friday I have band practice and some other crazy things to do before my bands big show opening up for Saliva, 12 Stones and Royal Bliss in a venue in the Chicagoland area. I have to wait till Sunday morning and I have already reserved the day to see it at least twice back to back if it is really this good!! My main worry was the CGI of Hulk and ho bad it has been in the last two Hulk movies however; sounds like there has bee some improvements. That sounds sweet!! I must say I have been waiting for this and a JLA movie since I was old enough to understand so, one out of two ain’t bad so far!! I am so excited and now so even more after all of these comments!!

    K

  39. OK..So I saw the movie last night….I reckon I could probably go on about it for hours and hours…but I wont. I’m only gonna say 2 words….NAILED IT…..!!!!!!! All comic fans are gonna have a nerdgasm after seeing this movie. As they say in Spinal Tap…. This one goes to eleven…!!!! AWESOME…!!

  40. Paul Montgomery Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    I finally get to read Conor’s review! And…I totally agree with every point. Especially the experience of realizing the movie is wrapping up and getting frustrated that it had to end!

    I’m head over heels for the movie, still basking in its afterglow. For now I’ll say it was pound for pound the most entertaining of the Marvel Studios films to date. Thin on plot? Totally fine with me. The focus was on character and relationships. It’s delivered the best interpretation of Bruce Banner/The Hulk I’ve yet to see. The whole cast had great moments, and pretty much every combination of characters had a wonderful interaction. The action was smart too, with not a single movement wasted. This was the fullness of the superhero team concept in all its joy and gravitas. Just a big ol’ bundle of treats.

  41. Go see this movie. Seriously, just go. You will not regret it. And stay all the way through the credits, there’s a fun second bonus scene.

  42. I felt like a kid watching this movie and I mean that in the best possible way. I was completely enthralled in it from beginning to end and think it’s exactly what comic book movies should be; supremely entertaining. 5 stars, the best superhero movie, period.

  43. Definitely the best superhero film ever.

  44. I think the Avengers did what NO other superhero movie has been able to do to date: show the true awesomeness of each hero’s power. I felt like I was finally seeing a true superhero movie. Not that the other movies were not great (I think the Marvel studio movies are great), but it felt to me like I was finally seeing superheroes being super. Hulk stole the show, in my opinion.

  45. Just seen the movie today, all I can say is WOW!

    Best Super Hero Movie Ever! and I think X-Men First Class was the best one done to date until today.

    I laughed, I cheered, and do a few Oh Yehs!

    Two favorite scenes in the movie both come from the Hulk, so doing spoiler free, all I can say is “One Punch” and “Ragdoll”, if you scene the movie, you most likely know what I’m talking about.

    Two snippette scenes, one half way through the Credits, and one at the end of the Credits.

  46. I agree 100%. Fantastic film. And as was said, there are two post movie scenes. Both are great…in their own ways.