The Avengers, Marvel Entertainment’s blockbuster epic, premiered at Oakland’s Grand Lake Theater at midnight, Thursday, and it did not disappoint. Marvel has spent a good six years developing the concept for The Avengers, as well as teasing it at the end of (or in the case of Captain America, during) other movies around its characters.
The magic question of how the director was going to weave all of these heros into one movie was answered, first, by the fact that Joss Whedon, the person selected to helm The Avengers, was already a fan of the property, and had “read all of the books” as he told The Hollywood Reporter early on.
Whedon, already a big name in sci-fi circles and a Comic Con God, has a slew of hits under his belt, paced by Buffy The Vampire Slayer. His only failure was the un-developed Wonder Woman project, for which I still hold out hope can be done.
But that aside, let’s get this out of the way: The Avengers is Whedon’s masterpiece. It’s a great work of filmmaking in that the scenes are well-shot blends of music, character, and special effects. One of my favorite scenes features the aircraft Loki uses to fly into an event in Germany, and as he does, and makes his damaging appearance, the classical music of the event is the music for the entire scene. Another example is when Iron Man / Tony Stark is working with Captain America to make repairs to the giant Helicarrier’s front right rotor. You get an idea of the enormity of the task, and that it’s done with the chaos of flying bullets from Loki’s controlled agents, and that Iron Man could be crushed under the weight of the device – which almost happens.
But what really makes The Avengers is the character interplay and dialog. I loved the way Stark playfully teased Bruce Banner, not caring that this walking time bomb could turn into The Hulk at any moment because, as Banner later said “I’m always angry.” And hats off to Mark Ruffalo for playing the best movie Bruce Banner to date: a depiction of a complex man who’s obviously tormented by that “other guy” inside him, looking to get out.
Scarlett Johanssen as Black Widow helped tie all of the other characters together by, well, bringing some of them in, most notably The Hulk, to work with her boss, Nick Fury, well-represented by Samuel L. Jackson. Jackson does well as a man who presents the aura of someone who always seems to know what the next move is going to be before others do. For example, when it looks like The Hulk is going to rip apart much of a section of the Helicarrier, Fury calls in an F-22 Raptor to “distract” the monster, knowing that if the aircraft fired at him, his incredible stupidity would lead him to jump after the plane, and in the process take himself off the ship, and out of the way.
I also liked the interplay of Stark and Banner, both scientists, and Stark’s fun-loving look at the World is the perfect antidote for what spiritually ailes Banner. Clark Gregg and Cobie Smulders are Fury’s efficient agents, and hopefully future takes of The Avengers allow us to see more of Cobie Smulders, and perhaps the return of Clark Gregg – the man who, going back to Iron Man, has been the thread that ties almost all of the movies to The Avengers, in some way.
I could go on and on about this film. The Avengers, even in its title design and timing and music, is not afraid to be epic, and it excels at that. If The Artist can be considered, and get, Oscar Best Picture just for being a recall to silent movies, then The Avengers should be considered for being the one film that shows how comic book movies can and should be done.