Movie Review: Marvel’s The Avengers- Probably the Strongest and Best in the Marvel Series Due to Joss Whedon’s Unprecedented Ability to Balance Action, Humor, and Drama

Most of the time when the typical Hollywood blockbusters make their way into the theaters to entertain the droves of drooling masses the films are relatively untouchable for criticism. This means that they usually do well despite negative or even positive reviews so there usually isn’t a point to wasting the time to complain about the details or get too loquacious on how the storyline could have been more insightful. However, to say that a blockbuster film is unreviewable is usually an undercutting criticism in itself as to how mind numbingly predictable the overall experience actually was. This very criticism applied to many of the Marvel adaptations including last year’s Thor and Captain America, which both had relatively entertaining moments but failed to meet the standard of say the first Iron Man (which, by the way, also had some pacing and plot problems). All of those recognized and feared problems were all on people’s minds when approaching the expected release of The Avengers, which brings all of those former heroes together in an epic, yet reluctant, superhero adventure. And yet, those problems, whether they are in poor exposition, lack of development for characters, or uninteresting action sequences, don’t exist in Joss Whedon’s faithful and humorous adaptation of the comic series. While remaining true to the tone and characters given to him from the previous film Whedon is still able to insert his own strengths for humor, character motivation, and capturing action sequences in unique ways. There is an obvious talent for balance in Whedon’s work, especially in The Avengers, where intense choreographed action is often complimented or changed with a dash of humor that is both natural and unexpected. So while it still remains true that The Avengers is unreviewable in regards to its success it also defies that usual undercutting criticism by becoming the best and strongest film than any of the others in the Marvel Avenger’s franchise.

What sets The Avengers apart from the others could be attributed to the fact that it isn’t weighted down by long exposition since that was the whole point of the other films. Each of the characters we (hopefully) are already aware of and their personalities have already been introduced to us. But Whedon is quick to catch you up in the most subtle of ways through either dialogue or to be more accurate an incredibly succinct set up for the villain and threat to earth in the beginning of the film, which is also complimented by an intense action pursuit and grand explosion. As we know from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and especially “Firefly,” Whedon is a unique storyteller who knows how to get you engaged and keep you engaged. And despite that all of his characters were previously written for him from the previous installments there is no doubt he knew how to tap into those personalities and bring out the best in each of them, either in Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey Jr.) sarcastic bombast or Captain America’s (Chris Evans) devout sincerity. And it should be noted that even though there have been two previous Hulk films Whedon doesn’t even try to link his Hulk to the previous two and makes his own, with the help of a reliable Mark Ruffalo, that is far more accurate to the comics and makes you wish you had seen a full film with this Hulk on the screen. Loyal Marvel movie watchers already care for these characters but Whedon gives them all their fine moments, either heroic or humorous, through The Avengers highlighting his unique ability to balance all elements of a film from action to drama to character involvement.

When you are dealing with four or more protagonists, especially superheroes, it is always a subconscious concern that each of them might not get enough screen time for either importance to the plot or even for the action. Set your concerns aside because Whedon does a fantastic job at integrating each of the main heroes into the fray, even combining their powers in unexpected ways. Of course, not everything about the team is copasetic in the beginning and that is what makes the drama about organizing such a team of type “A” personalities so interesting to watch. Egos flare, insults fly off the walls, and even hammers come crashing down on shields as each of the men (and one woman) battle for standing in the group. In the end the dynamic of the comics stays the same as Captain America tames his group and focuses even the more rebellious and uncontrollable on the task at hand with his old-fashioned ways. And give Whedon a round of applause for not succumbing to relativist nonsense for his interpretation of Captain America, who is given an even better presence this time round by Chris Evans, especially in the face of a villain that is not misunderstood but full on definable evil. As the villain Loki (Tom Hiddleston, this time less overdramatic) proclaims to a crowd of people on earth that freedom isn’t a normalcy and that subjugation is their natural state you can’t help but notice that history does support that notion. Freedom, especially in the old-fashioned Captain America understanding of it, is a rare human experiment that is always dwindling and it’s nice to see a film show just how fragile and worthwhile that endeavor is worth fighting for. The true compliment here is that Whedon stayed true to the dynamic of the team and their individual personalities, which is all you could really ask for in an Avengers film.

To still say that this film is unreviewable is partially true only because it will do well despite any positive or negative words. But that is a disservice to the actual quality of this film, which balances humor, action, drama, and character with a practically perfect mixture. All the heavy lifting for the introduction of all the characters had been done by other directors and writers but it’s safe to say that Whedon completes most of their arcs in The Avengers as he showcases their already established personalities and exposes in them some doubt but ultimately they rise to the challenge expected of them. The Avengers could be the end all be all of superhero movies because it’s difficult to imagine any film surpassing its level of entertainment. Some people might have nitpicky criticisms of accuracy to the comic or characters but that would be a waste of breath. In the end Whedon delivers an incredibly tight, well directed, and well balanced summer blockbuster that hits all cerebral cylinders from the emotional, to the humorous, to the suspenseful. This entire review might be a waste of breath in itself because by the time it is written most of you will have seen it so really the point of this review is saying it’s well worth seeing again, and that is an extremely rare quality for any film let alone a summer blockbuster.

Grade: A

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