Warning: this review contains spoilers, so if you haven’t yet seen The Avengers, you might want to hold off on reading this.
When I got the invitation to an advanced screening of The Avengers, I didn’t hesitate in responding that I would like like to attend. Not because I am a fangirl of comic books, superheroes, or Joss Whedon but because I wanted the opportunity to see if I could enjoy the film as someone almost completely unfamiliar with the world it inhabits. I say almost completely unfamiliar because I have seen the two Iron Man films (because of Robert Downey, Jr.) and I used to watch The Incredible Hulk TV series, which starred Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno, when I was a kid.
I hadn’t really followed much of the hype surrounding this movie, other than the occasional casting update. I knew that Whedon fans were salivating over his involvement in the project and that pretty much everyone was expecting it to be the kickoff of the summer blockbuster season. And, to be honest, I didn’t have plans to see it — I typically hate going to see blockbusters at the theater because, well, I’m not much of a fan of the audiences at blockbuster movies. But that’s a conversation for another day.
Despite my lack of knowledge of the world of The Avengers, I did enjoy the film. I do wish I had watched Thor and Captain America prior to seeing this, just so I would’ve had a better understanding of those characters and their backstory. But I didn’t, so I just had to deal with missing out on understanding some references and callbacks to those films. That didn’t really hinder my enjoyment of the film — I just think more background would’ve helped me enjoy it more.
While I didn’t love this movie, I did think it was a lot of fun and would probably see it again — but not in 3D. Yes, I am one of those people who does not, for the most part, enjoy 3D. It gives me a headache and I really do not like wearing two pairs of glasses on my face. And I think that in most cases, 3D is unnecessary — this is one of those cases. The action scenes moved too quickly for 3D and made it difficult for me to keep my eyes on the screen. And 3D does nothing to enhance scenes where people are just talking, which there are an abundance of in this movie. But, whatever — if you like 3D, you’ll be fine with this. If you don’t, just find a 2D screening.
Two things I really loved about The Avengers: Whedon’s dialogue and every scene in which Mark Ruffalo and Robert Downey, Jr. interacted. I appreciate snappy, witty dialogue and Whedon’s script provides plenty of that, although I think the one-liners got to be a bit too plentiful and could’ve been scaled back a bit. He is deft at balancing tense action scenes with lighthearted humor and I think that was definitely needed here. Downey, Jr. and Ruffalo have such an amazing on-screen chemistry — their scenes together were, by far, the most satisfying for me. I hope the two of them make another, non-superhero, movie together soon.
Besides Downey, Jr. and Ruffalo, I also really enjoyed the performances of Clark Gregg, Colbie Smulders, and Tom Hiddleston. Gregg is such a fantastic character actor who does a great job at playing the understated cop, FBI agent, Secret Service Agent, etc. and he was wonderful here as S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Coulson. And it was nice to see Smulders, as Agent Hill, playing such a badass; I hope this film helps her get more parts that are a major departure from Robin Sherbatsky, her role on How I Met Your Mother. Hiddleston does a superb job as the villain, Loki. He is the perfect combination of charming and evil, yet still lets a little vulnerability sneak through. I do admit that I spent most of the film trying to figure out where I’d seen him previously before realizing he played F. Scott Fitzgerald in Midnight in Paris. He reminded me so much of a prettier Richard E. Grant that in my notes, I referred to him as “Withnail.”
And now for the part of the review in which I tell you that I thought the final New York City battle scene reminded me of the end of Ghostbusters. Before you dismiss me as insane, hear me out. The portal created above Stark Tower when the Tesseract is activated is reminiscent of Gozer’s portal above Dana and Louis’s building; Loki is Gozer; the Avengers are the Ghostbusters — with Tony Stark as the Peter Venkman; the giant alien monsters are like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. You see it, right? A little bit? I know I’m not crazy on this one because when I brought it up to a couple of friends who also saw the movie, they said that it didn’t occur to them as they were watching it, but they could see the similarities once I brought them up. I don’t know if this was intentional on Whedon’s part, but if it was, bravo to him because it was brilliant.
A few other random observations I wrote down in my notes:
- No one told me Skeletor is in this. Between him and Thor, all I want now is a new He-Man movie.
- Greasy hair must run in Thor and Loki’s family.
- HARRY DEAN STANTON!
Overall, I think this is a fun film that can be enjoyed by comic book lovers and non-comic book lovers alike (and based on the screening I attended, babies, too).