When The Avengers, issue #1, was first published in September 1963, a creation of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, it had a somewhat different cast then the movie version released on May 4, 2012. After the group’s classic battle cry, “Avengers Assemble,” an odd blend of Marvel’s most popular characters put aside their personal differences, but not without difficulty, to save Earth from global peril. In the comic book version they included Iron Man, Ant Man, Wasp, Thor, The Hulk and later, Captain America. Over time other members joined as some of the original members left.
Many of Marvels heroes had imperfections that tended to make them social outcasts, competitive and antagonistic towards each other and unable to combine their powers to unite as a group. Much of the 2012 film adaptation is spent on this same struggle, overcoming their ego’s to find common ground and save the planet. Picking Joss Whedon to write and direct the film was a brilliant choice as it brings him back to his creative roots.
Whedon is best known for his highly successful creation of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, another super hero trying to fit in and have a normal life as the chosen one with a destiny to rid the Hellmouth of demons. Buffy ran for seven seasons and became a cult classic. So Whedon brought a unique understanding of the misunderstood hero with a dark side trying to find a place in the world while carrying a burden. This is also one of the main themes of The Avengers movie, and it is reflected in a witty script with the right amount of humor and drama that is just as endearing as it was in the Buffy universe.
The Avengers movie is by far the most energetic of the Marvel films with outstanding special effects, but what makes it stand apart is that it is a fast moving action film with numerous character conflicts that make it more than just another summer blockbuster and proves that you can have both a high budget action film, ($220 million dollars), while bringing something new to the development of each character.
The ensemble cast includes some of the actors who already played their characters in a starring role in other films. Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man, Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Chris Evans as Captain America. Mark Ruffalo takes over as The Hulk, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, director of S.H.I.E.L.D and finally Scarlett Johansson who plays Black Widow with Kung Fu moves that resonates with some of the moves that Buffy used.
As he did as the villain of The Avengers, issue #1, Loki, the north god of illusion and mischief, tries to reign supreme on Earth by causing mayhem between the heroes and stealing The Tesserat ( a fouth dimension analog of a cube with unlimited power), using it as a bargaining chip to bring an alien race from outer space to conquer Earth. Loki, portrayed by Tom Hiddleston plays the role with relish and a devilish grin that brings to mind Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker in The Dark Knight. If he cant rule Asgard, then Earth will be his domain and humans will bow to him as the god he claims he is.
Once the ego’s of the Marvel heroes are put aside and saving the planet becomes the common goal, the action and special effects intensify with the alien attack directly over Stark Enterprises in Manhattan. The film is well acted as the ensemble cast first struggles to take the threat seriously. Iron Man plays it rogue up until the final battle begins. Dr. Banner is calm and tempered as he tries to control his transformation into The Hulk. Thor doesn’t seem particularly interested in working with mortals to defeat his half – brother, and Captain America is still trying to figure out his life in the twenty-first century after being frozen in suspended animation for sixty years.
What is so unusual is that rarely do we have a film with a complex combination of personality conflicts played out in the main characters with blockbuster action and special effects. This is largely due to Whedon who deserves much of the credit for the film’s success, as his ability to combine all of the elements in a solid script filled with just the right amount of humor makes it all work. The Avengers is highly recommended in 2D, 3D, or perhaps 4D when the technology becomes available.
For a complete list of characters and credits for choreography, score and special effects, click on the IMDb link. It has a running time of 2 hours and 22 minutes and is rated PG-13.