Review: 'Avengers' absolutely marvelous

Iconic superheroes come together and deliver

Author: Michelle Solomon, Contributing writer
Published On: May 04 2012 12:01:59 PM EDT
Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr

"Marvel's The Avengers" is a summer blockbuster of gigantic proportions, masterfully created and a big-screen realization of the ultimate dream team. It all comes together in such perfect order that it seems like its fate was sealed in pre-destiny.

Alas, it was. The seed of bringing six of Marvel Comics' most iconic characters together in one movie was planted four years ago in 2008's "Iron Man" when Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) told Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) that he was part of a "bigger universe." "You just don't know it yet," says Fury. Fans saw another hint dropped two months later in "The Incredible Hulk." Then it continued in the films "Thor" and "Captain America: The First Avenger," both in 2011.
Now those Avengers, plus two more, Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), both of whom we met in "Iron Man 2, are brought together to form the Avengers Initiative.
In the story, co-written by director Joss Whedon and Zak Penn, the Avengers Initiative would be summoned as Earth's last defense against total destruction. The time has come. They've been called up for active duty by the international peacekeeping agency S.H.I.E.L.D. to deal with Asgardian god Loki (Tom Hiddleston) who has stolen the uranium-based brick, the Tesseract. He plans to use its power to lead an alien invasion of Earth, creating chaos, war and catastrophe. (You may remember the Tesseract as the cube Captain America pried away from the Nazis.) But it isn't Earth and its people Loki wants to exact revenge on; it's his brother, Thor (Chris Hemsworth).

So what could possibly be so difficult in creating a team of superheroes to set Loki straight? As Iron Man says, "I don't play well with others."
In Whedon's world, this sets up all kinds of challenges as his other superheroes don't play well with others, either. A nasty fight pits Iron Man's high tech prowess again Thor's lightning rod and magic sledgehammer. Captain America (Chris Evans) doesn't take too kindly to strange characters in odd outfits being referred to as soldiers, plus Iron Man's cynicism clashes with the Captain's do-good-unto-others philosophy. And for Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), who has been wiling away the hours in India tending to the sick, he has been keeping his stress level at a minimum so as not to wake up his mean, green alter ego. This duty call may bring out the worst in him, he fears.

Whedon mixes in male (and female) ego with modern day office politics as the script is ripe with tension between characters. If they all got along, what fun would that be?
For fanboys and fangirls of the individual superhero stories, Whedon has also done a superb job of weaving all the stories together so that each piece of the puzzle fits, and that's quite a feat within itself.

Yet his mastery of the genre comes from the non-stop action, the larger than life fight sequences, and the eye-popping culmination of "Marvel's The Avengers," with the introduction of strange slithering metal aliens that converge on New York City from a hole in the sky. This you must see for yourself. In 3-D, it's simply mind-altering.

The two hour and twenty minute film breezes by, and left me wishing there had been more. But there's no reason to fret. While this film's build up was years in the making, the short-term goals are laid out for all to see in "Marvel's The Avengers." There are plenty of hints peppered throughout to get moviegoers motivated for plenty more superhero smack down action. Expect that not only will the superheroes be back to battle bad guys together again, but will do some of that bidding on their own, too. If you're looking for some hard-and-fast facts to support that, how about this? Mark Ruffalo, by far the best movie Hulk (previously Eric Bana and Edward Norton played the role), and a stand out in "Marvel's The Avengers," is already in gear for upcoming smash time. Even before the film hit theaters, he had signed a deal for six flicks to appear as the Hulk.