The Avengers (2012)

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Ben
This is the best comic book movie ever made. It’s as simple as that. Christopher Nolan’s Batman films were good, but this reaches heights those films never did. It’s somewhat surprising because this film had just as much chance that it would be a complete debacle. There were so many characters in this film, it would’ve been very easy for it to focus too much on one and not enough on others. It helped a lot that the majority of these characters had been introduced in their own solo films. Captain America (Chris Evans), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) all had their own films before The Avengers and Iron Man (Robert Downey jr) had two outings before this great team-up.

Joss Whedon is the perfect director for a story like this. He has written for Marvel comics in the past and also has lots of experience working with large ensemble casts in TV shows like Buffy and Firefly. He ensures that every member of The Avengers has a chance to shine. Even the characters that don’t have superpowers have their moment in the sun. Black Widow and Hawkeye could easily have been put in the backseat when up against their much stronger teammates, but Whedon finds room for everyone really well. There are also some very Whedonesque jokes and dialogue throughout the film. There are some laugh out loud moments, especially from the Hulk.

Any praise I give this film will not do it justice. The film has great directing, great effects, awesome dialogue and strong acting from everyone involved. The fact Marvel hired relative unknowns in their main roles helps you believe they’re really heroes. Downey Jr. especially seems to embody Tony Stark/Iron Man. He’s very charismatic as the eccentric billionaire and has great chemistry with the entire cast, especially Mark Ruffalo and Chris Evans.

This film is a game changer for comic book films. Marvel have showed that a shared universe of interconnecting films can work, and be very successful if done right. They’ve raised the bar with The Avengers and now it’s up to other comic book films to step up to this level.

Rating: A+


Sally
We have watched The AvengersĀ more times in the past year and a half than we’ve watched Star Wars. And if you know Ben at all you know this is a big statement.

This was a movie that I was completely skeptical about when I walked into the theater. The primary super heros– Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, and Captain America– were the subjects of solo films that, with the exception of the Hulk’s outings, were all great. These characters worked well as stars, but it didn’t seem possible that they would make a successful ensemble. Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man seemed like too big of an ego to share the screen. The Hulk didn’t seem interesting enough to hold his own against the others. Captain America is such a quaint, old-fashioned guy that he couldn’t possibly mesh with the contemporary personalities. And Thor… well, as ridiculous as a weaponized metal suit, a super soldier, and a green giant may seem, their stories are still somewhat rooted in reality. Thor’s isn’t. He’s an alien, who ancient Norsemen mistook for a god. It’s pure fantasy, and seems out of place next to the others.

But, damn is this movie great. Joss Whedon somehow took all these disparate characters and weaved them together into one of the best ensemble casts ever. It helped that Marvel already had a strong run of excellent movies all leading up to The Avengers, but this still so easily could have gone wrong. It’s hard enough to structure a film around four leads while introducing new characters to the universe, but to successfully do this and perfectly balance action, comedy, and drama is a real feat.

One of my favorite aspects of The Avengers isn’t even the large action scenes (which are incredibly well done), but instead the smaller more nuanced details. For example, I love the scene where Agent Coulson first converses with Captain America on board a plane. At one point The Cap stands up, and Coulson, trying to act cool around his hero, mirrors Captain America’s body language. It’s such a small detail that most people probably wouldn’t notice, but it says so much. Coulson’s body language is literally saying, “Hey, you and me are so in sync. I love you; let’s be friends!”, which is definitely what he would want to say out loud if it weren’t so weird.

If you can catch me with little details like that, and keep me engaged throughout all the explosions, smashing, and thrashing, then you’ve struck gold.

Rating: A

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