Movie Review (sort of): THE AVENGERS (2012)
Culminating in a 5 year long creation of a shared Film Universe, where the same world is developed through multiple movies, setting an unprecedented event in movies, Marvel Studios’ THE AVENGERS come along and smash all precedents for super hero filmmaking.
There is nothing new I can say about this movie that hasn’t been covered by thousands of better writers than I since the release. So I’m just going to reflect upon how THE AVENGERS resonated for me personally, instead of a ‘Review’ of the movie.
Leading up to it, I loved the idea of a shared Universe in multiple movies. “If the comics can do it, why not movies?” It was a risky plan by Marvel Studios, because if one movie sucked, then it kind of loses traction for the once coming up. I loved THE INCREDIBLE HULK, I thought it was a better Hulk story than the Ang Lee version. It was cerebral and dark, without resorting to extreme lengths
IRON MAN was a blockbuster entertainer. Definitely not as intellectual as THE INCREDIBLE HULK was, given they both released the same year. However, it was a wham, bam, and thank you ma’am action flick. Casting Robert Downey Jr. is probably the best thing that Marvel did that made this entire Movieverse possible.
Despite how better THE INCREDIBLE HULK was in terms of story telling, RDJ & Jon Favreau crated a mainstream and commercially viable movie with IRON MAN. Downey’s natural charisma and his own checkered past as an actor, gave that much more credibility to the womanizing, self absorbed genius that is Tony Stark.
Moving on to the next release, THOR, I thought was the weakest of the Solo Hero movies that this plan hinged on. THOR was going to be difficult from day one, and despite Director Kenneth Branaugh’s attempts, it didn’t work for me. I expand on this in my Review, but the progression of events and character motivations didn’t work in my opinion.
I was then hesitant about CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER. Director Joe Johnson’s THE WOLFMAN didn’t inspire any confidence in his abilities prior to. However, I was blown away by how amazingly refreshing and well told CAPTAIN AMERICA was. It wasn’t anything special or groundbreaking, but it followed a time tested formula of telling an origin story and making it interesting. The stand out had to have been the Effects used to make brawny and bulky Chris Evans seem like a scrawny and small kid from Brooklyn. It never seemed out of place or fake. I believed that Evans was a scrappy kid. Even though THOR was supposed to do this, I thought CAPTAIN AMERICA better introduced the blending of reality-based action and otherworldly magic and disintegrating rays, paving the way for the fantastical in THE AVENGERS.
After IRON MAN 2, the stage was now set for THE AVENGERS. The news hit that Joss Whedon was given the helm of this, the most ambitious movie for any director, and for the history of cinema in general, considering this would be the 1st time this is being tried (as far as I know). I was overjoyed! I’ve been a fan of Joss since TOY STORY, since BUFFY and so on. However, after the initial excitement wore down, I was concerned.
Joss Whedon has made his fame writing amazing stories with strong female characters in the lead. THE AVENGERS cast was lining up with only 1 woman, Scarlett Johansen’s Black Widow, who by no means was the headliner. There was uncertainty about how much both Gweneth Paltrow & Natalie Portman’s roles would extend over to the group movie from their Solo ventures. That seemed out of place that Joss would be directing a movie with all men.
Then you have the experience issue. Despite being an amazing writer and Director, Whedon had only TV projects under his belt. BUFFY, ANGEL, DOLLHOUSE. His only big screen directorial in SERENITY, was an adaptation of his own TV Show FIREFLY, so it doesn’t really count. So for him to be handed the biggest project ever in Filmdom, seemed incomprehensible.
Then you add the mix of the actors not being able to pull off the character interactions as per the comics. Captain America is the leader of The Avengers, not Iron Man. However, Downey has established himself as the dominant character and veteran actor out of all of the stars of THE AVENGERS, this is further punctuated by the fact that he’s the only one who got a sequel to his Solo movie.
So how is this guy gonna follow orders from the mild, somber and serious Captain America whose actor, Chris Evans seems like a kid to Downey in both looks and experience, as both an actor and character. Then you’ve got the bad news that Edward Norton would not be returning as Hulk. Instead they cast Mark Ruffalo to fill in. Despite the fact that I liked Ruffalo, I was hesitant about his portrayal of Bruce Banner, considering I thought Norton knocked it outta the park.
All this concerned me about the fate of THE AVENGERS years before its release. However, what it turned out to be… is history. I don’t need to point out how each of my above concerns were addressed in the movie, and disintegrated right away.